Apr. 21st, 2010

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It was my first week at the job and I was hyperventilating, palpitating and if there's a fancy medical word that means about to soil my knickers, I was that too. In mere minutes, I was going to drown the only person entrusted to my care and the entire neighborhood would be underwater like a floodplain, levees snapping like saltine crackers in a horrible, dingy gazpacho of kitchen water.

Life-jackets. I needed life-jackets and a rowboat. Maybe I could construct a raft out of the cupboard doors. Wood floats, right? Unless they're simulated woodgrain plastic like my grandma had in her house...oh crap oh crap oh crap. I should've checked for improvisational flotation devices my first day on the job, in between reading the fire drill floor plans, finding out where to go in the event of tornadoes (the basement pantry) or zombie rhinoceros attacks (also the basement pantry).

My client, Linda B (or, as her intake folder read in earnest alliteration, Belinda Beatrice Burroughs), was a doe-eyed intellectually disabled woman in her late 40s, far too young and full of life to die. Even if she wasn't, as my supervisor promised, a 'huge help around the house'. In fact, Linda B seemed bound and determined to provide nothing but endless, painstakingly memorized (and often uncomfortably bawdy and lewd) Rodney Dangerfield routines. That, and practicing her uncanny ability to sneak up on you ninja-style and suddenly, LOUDLY announce her presence with her ubiquitous, "I GET NO RESPECT!" Sure, having only one client in the house was easier for my first weekend, but I still found myself unprepared, panicky and startling halfway to the ceiling at every sneeze.

Why did I ever think I could do this? I wasn't leadership material in the least. I've never been good at handling crises, always the last one picked for the team, always the underdog, ever the runner-up and now I was about three minutes away from drowning my only client and making the front page of every major Midwestern newspaper. Maybe I'd end up in prison, maybe they'd reinstate the pillory just for me, throwing rotten tomatoes as I squirmed--

"Uh oh, that's not how the dishwasher works."

I spun around, stunned. I almost didn't recognize Linda B's real voice. Unlike her Batman-rasp Rodneyfield impersonation, she sounded decidedly feminine and a bit squeaky. She stepped around me, house slippers sloshing a little in the dishwater puddle. With a quick click of a lever, and gurgling leak stopped. The mighty Mississippi was dammed. I blinked at her, not sure if I was more shocked by the break in her Rodneyfield character or the sudden, miraculous shift of fates. Rays of glorious, golden sun all but emanated from her broad grin as I looked on, eyes wide and ankles soaked.

"You want me to get the mop?"

This spasm of workplace terror brought to you by the good folks at [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol!


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