More On the Old Folks Home
One of the things about caregivers that gets my goat is the pretty common experience of getting one who wants to finish your every utterance for you.
As I’ve gotten older this has become an increasing problem. I’ve gotten softer spoken and have slowed down in presentation a great deal. Still, the fill-in virtually never comes close to the intent. My intent, that is.
A classic example occurred recently when Jenelle, one of my least favorite caregivers, asked me whether there was anything else I needed help with before she left. Now, one of the traits which Jenelle displays, and one of those which most annoys me, is that she wants to exit the room the instant she enters it. Her request was really aimed at exiting, not soliciting more work. She has often left the room without my having responded to such comments. Jump now, or it will be too late.
Anyway, my response became, in time, a tactic in which I essentially try to stall until I can come up with the right words to give her more to do until I really can ask for what I need. In this case, she asked me if there was anything she could do for me. My response was that she could help me with the belt I place around my knees to prevent the right one from being injured from being jammed into walls by my power chair. Somehow this evolved to my saying something like “watch me try to put my belt on my knees.” This was meant to be the start of a sentence which ended with “so you can judge for yourself whether I need help doing it.” She jumped in before I could finish: “You mean that by watching you do it I have helped you?”`
Now I don’t know why Jenelle expects me to be a slacker, but she apparently does. That bugs me a lot.
When I was a carpenter–no. When I was a laborer, before I became a carpenter briefly back in the 1970’s, I encountered several slackers, a subclass of the laborer society. Laborers tend to do their best to avoid work. Numerous times I recall thinking these people often worked twice as hard to avoid work as they would have done if they had simply done the job in the first place. I only spent about two months total as a laborer before being promoted to the status of carpenter’s apprentice. This was, of course, in a non-union environment. In addition, I was not frightened by fractions.
Anyway, I don’t like being perceived as a slacker. And that is exactly how I think Jenelle perceives me. Perhaps she has experience in her own life which prejudices her toward that expectation. The laborers I knew back in the day probably had children of their own. Maybe Jenelle was one of these. If my father was a slacker, perhaps I would finish the sentence for the speaker the way she did. I gave her permission to leave, which she promptly did.
She is, as I said, not one of my favorite caregivers. Fortunately, I have only seen her once since this incident. In fairness, I should specify that her heritage is totally unknown to me and whether she has anyone in her family in the slacker community. It’s completely my fantasy.