The other day, I was chatting with a new resident at my mother’s retirement community. When I told her (solicited) that I was a writer and editor, her response was nearly explosive—about how ill-suited she would be to such a line of work, due to an auditory learning challenge she shares with her son. I maintain a running, mental list of jobs I would be terrible at myself. Here is a sampling, accompanied by the reason(s) for my inadequacy:
- Taxi driver. I get nervous with people in my car, have a terrible sense of direction, and would probably decline to “step on it” if asked. I do, however, drive my husband to and from the airport frequently. His name for this service begins with B and rhymes with Uber.
- Roofer. I would look down, get dizzy, and fall off—the first day. Years ago, the twin boys across the street, about six at the time, would play on top of their house—as I watched in horror, wondering if I should call Child Protective Services. Incredibly, they are still alive.
- Alaskan king crab fisherperson. I have an intense aversion to drowning, hypothermia, and crippling injuries. The hours are long, cold, wet, and dangerous, whereas I prefer short, mild, dry, and safe.
- Restaurant server. I lack the upper-body strength to carry a bunch of plates at once. When I was a girl, I saw a waitress pour a tureen of scalding soup down a patron’s neck. I went on to enjoy my own (delicious split pea) soup, but the incident stayed with me.
This month, I have considered adding a profession to the list: nurse. With my mother in the hospital for four days and in a skilled nursing facility for sixteen (and counting), I have witnessed the dedication of nurses, certified nursing assistants, and nurse’s aides up close. These men and women possess all sorts of demeanors—friendly, businesslike, sweet, funny, comforting, cheerful, encouraging, serious. But universally, they are patient. And hard-working. And flexible, moving ceaselessly from patient to patient, wherever and whenever they are needed.
Thank you to Adam, Alex, Daisy, Feybe, Franklin, Marion, Nicole, Sandra, and Vic, who represent many others.