Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Entertain the Stranger

I'd much rather write this anonymously.

I don't want it to look like I'm tooting my own horn.

"If I could toot my own horn, I'd never leave the house"

Honestly, it's a reinforcement of a lesson that I kinda already knew. A review never hurts, though.

This week I turned down a job. A per diem job, to be sure. Not a major career change. I just thought that once I graduate I'll have soooo much free time I might as well take on a second job. Don't judge. So I applied for a job in Executive Health. If you don't know, Executive Health is for people who have money, or who work for companies that have money, who pay above and beyond in order to have "concierge health." That's a nice way of saying that with enough moolah, you get a sweet suite and all the doctors you possible need come to you: cardiologist, gynecologist, GI, whathaveyou. They examine you, take your blood, perform your stress test, check under the hood, all in one day. With lunch thrown in. Because VIP's are very, very, busy people who don't have time to schedule multiple doctors appointments, tests, etc. Unlike the rest of us who work two jobs, clean our own toilets, raise our own kids and still need to fit in healthcare. It goes without saying that these VIPs need their own nurse for the day. 

I'm not sure what I was thinking. I guess I thought it'd be a break away from the sweaty masses in the ER for a few hours. My husband said it might lead to networking and new possibilities. And I am, if I say so myself, gracious and pleasant and customer friendly. In the ER, they usually give me the VIPs. At which point I steal myself and do my very bestest to please, even though I rather take care of a dozen pregnant meth-heads than one rich person. 

God, I'm going to die poor, aren't I?

but rich in spirits. I mean spirit. 

In other news,  this week I offered to help my church welcome a woman and her daughter from Afghanistan. They are refugees and I didn't know anything about them except (maybe) the woman is a doctor in her own country and her daughter is 7.  My pastor gave me a hundred bucks and asked if I could buy some groceries so that when they arrived in their new housing it wasn't completely void of sustenance. Yes! I love grocery shopping. A little too much, because I wanted to buy them everything. In the interest of time and money, however, I did ask some Muslim friends what people from that part of the world might want and/or need. And then proceeded to buy twice as much stuff and probably could have bought three times more. Because really, how do you start with nothing? I mean, you need salt and oil and baking soda and I don't know, look at all the stuff that's in your pantry and imagine having to replace it all. I settled for salt and pepper, garlic and onions, some veggies and fresh fruit. Granola, cereal and two kids of yoghurt. Canned soup, carnation milk and fresh milk. Coffee and tea. Sugar. Potatoes, lentils and rice. I forget, some other stuff. Gerber daisies, because they're bright and cheerful and strawberries because they're in season. And Oreos! Because I asked the daughter, "If you were coming to America for the first time, what cookie would you want to try first?" And Oreos was the answer.

I got to the apartment which had already been furnished by churchy people and someone had dropped off toiletries, bed sheets, towels, and other basics. Being in a transitional housing apartment really brought back some PTSD  memories. The place was perfunctory and clean, dingy, but at least it didn't smell of cabbage, urine, or mildew. The furniture was pretty mish-mash, as my daughter would say. I put the groceries away but I didn't like the layout of the furniture. So I moved the kitchen table, set the chairs around it and rearranged the chairs in the teeny-tiny living room until the person on the first floor asked me to stop. I laid out the toiletries in the bathroom. Then, I looked at the bedroom and thought, no one wants to travel 16 hours from Afghanistan, move into a strange, dingy apartment and have to make their own bed. So I made the bed. Hospital corners, that's how I roll. Now, instead of feeling like you're in some strange apartment, you'll feel a little like it's a hotel. Maybe. Someone had gotten new clothes and a jacket for the girl, so I laid them out on the bed, like I was a Ladies Maid. Someone else had purchased a little girl's pink backpack, notebook and some play-do, which I put out on the kitchen table with the daisies and called it a night. At least now the apartment looked a little homey.

Then I thought about the other families living in this place and wondered how many of them had gotten this kind of welcome when they moved in? Probably zero. When I lived in transitional housing, you were shown to your bare room or apartment carrying whatever you could on your person. It wasn't prison, but it was pretty grim. God knows, you weren't there because good things were happening in your life. Wouldn't it have been nice if someone had put in a just a little pot of Gerber daisies and a welcome sign? This is my type of concierge service. If I could, I'd go around to every apartment with a loaf of bread, some coffee, flowers and maybe a nice picture or throw rug to brighten the place up. And I'd make the bed, with new sheets, because used sheets and pillows are gross. I'd leave a mint on the pillow and have a directory on the bedside table: the nearest bus route, grocery, library. People need nice things. Not expensive,  just nice. I don't know the bible verse, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't say, "give the poor the crap you don't want". It says, "entertain the stranger." Entertain. Be their host. Make it nice.

whaddya mean you're not hungry?

The pay is crap, but I feel better at the end of the day. Almost like a human being, or something.