Saturday, April 12, 2008

What I have learned from... odd jobs

This month's 'what I have learned from' writing project from Middle Zone Musings is about learning from doing odd jobs. Odd jobs is also the theme on The high calling of our daily work.

This story I am about to tell isn't so much about an odd job, but an interesting one that made me realize the power of jealousy and envy. And what makes people plot to do away with elderly relations for their fortune!

Being an agency nurse
Many moons ago, to augment my wages, I would work occasionally as an agency nurse. This was when I lived in Salisbury in the UK. I would put myself on call and do whatever job the agency had that could utilize my skills, which as a new graduate nurse was basic nursing care.

One night I had to go and spend the night with an old lady who was elderly and frail. I had to get her ready for bed, watch over her to make sure she didn't fall out of bed and help her to the toilet in the night. And in the morning, I had to give her her breakfast.

How the other half live
She lived in a lovely old cottage in the same area where Madonna and Sting live, in Wiltshire. When I put her to bed, she told me that the bed used to belong to Josephine, ex-wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. She was quite a grumpy old lady. She got very cross with me because I was rocking the chair I was sitting on - she didn't want me to damage a very valuable antique chair, thank you very much!

When I went to the kitchen to make her breakfast, I found a file of clothing on the table including a crown. They initially looked like dressing-up clothes but they turned out to be the ceremonial regalia worn by a member of the House of Lords, in the British Parliament. Apparently, her uncle had been a peer of the realm.

Making dastardly plans
When the day nurse turned up, she confirmed that the old lady was extremely wealthy and had no one to leave her money to, apart from a nephew who was a monk, of all things. So I started to plot and scheme - after all, what would a monk want with all that money? If I made myself indispensable to her, she might leave me a few thousand pounds, or I could flog off one of her precious antique chairs! One chair would probably pay off my whole mortgage!

It just didn't seem fair that one grumpy old lady had so much whilst I, who had my whole life ahead of me, was working all the hours under the sun just to keep a roof over my head.

Needless to say, I must have upset her so much by my hooligan chair-rocking behavior that I was never asked to go back again.

If I had my time again?
If I had my time again, I would have talked to her properly to find out about her past and her family, to learn how she had Josephine's bed in her possession and ask her about her memories. I bet she must have had some amazing stories to tell.

Image: 'Stonehenge' (which is in Wiltshire)


Bob said...

Howdy, Sarah! Hmmm... maybe it's a good thing you never went back...? :-D

Seriously, I think you got it, though - sometimes elderly people just want to know someone is interested in what they have to say. And they are usually chock full of fascinating stories, if you can get them to share.

Sarah Stewart said...

I think you're right Bob. Now I look back at this, I sound really freaky! It was supposed to be a funny story but now I think it is scary!! Honestly, I am not like that! You can trust me to look after your grandma! Well, actually you probably cannot, because I haven't been a nurse for many years.

The point of the story is that I regret not making the most of my opportunity to find out about someone who probably was most fascinating. I can see that now as a 'mature' person - as a young 20ish 'girl', I could not.