my daily tasks as a receptionist for a retirement community include: helping Roy from room 221 open his mailbox because he can't reach it, typing various random notes for blind Dee in 712, bringing the CEO his Wall Street Journal by 8:00 am, telling Bernie in 624 that "yes, i am aware that the weather 'is taking a turn for the worse,'" handing 101-year-old Mrs. Tuggle her mail from the day before, agreeing with Will that "yes, his wife Foxy looks beautiful today," updating the report on who is out of town, answering phones (particularly waiting for that daily call from Leonard that "yes, he is ok today"), telling Charlotte (who has Dimentia) in 47 "wonderful" when she tells me she pooped. calling maintenance to let them know that Hannah in room 504 locked herself out again....and the list goes on. my job keeps me wonderfully busy, but also provides me with ample facebook time. however, the one task that i really do NOT like is the VISIONLINK EMERGENCY CALL SYSTEM check.
every resident has 2 buttons in their apartment. one is a button to call a nurse if they've had an emergency. the other is one they have to push every morning before 10:30 am to let me know they are OK (or....in other words...alive). if they don't push their button before 10:30 am, it registers in my computer and then i print out "The List." "The List" gives me a full report on who did NOT check in that morning. it is my job to call everyone on the list and see if they're OK...sometimes they forget to push their button...sometimes they're out shopping...or...sometimes....they're dead. my heart sort of starts to beat faster when i have to call the ones on "The List" because i just really really really want them to answer. but if they don't, i have to call the nurse so she can go check on the person.
now there are the regular List People. they forget every single day. for instance, Bill in 328 claims he doesn't check in on purpose because he just wants to hear my voice every morning, Margie May in 432 is always down here playing the piano, Mrs. Piper in 435 just lost her husband who was the one that always pushed the button, Del in 501 who says EVERYDAY, "did i forget to check in again?" to which i say, "yes honey, but i'm just glad you're ok." he yells, "how CARELESS of me, i will correct my ways!!" Mrs. Iunker in 502 doesn't know a call button from a banana, and Dr. Brink in 515, the tiniest woman you'll ever see in life, always tells me, "i was just getting in the shower! but thank you dear, i am fine."
so you see, when i call these List People, i am never worried. i just assume it's their daily forgetfulness and actually look forward to chatting with them on the phone. it's the ones like Mildred in 442, who is extremely stern and anal and very much routine about everything, who scare me. she was on my list this morning and i didn't want to call. because she ALWAYS checks in. because i don't want to find out she's left us. thank goodness she just answered the phone like this, "dammit i was sleeping, what do you want?" to which i smiled and breathed a sigh of relief and responded, "hello Mildred this is L from the front desk, i was just calling to check in on you this morning." and she hung up.
i have not yet called a dead person's apartment to see if they're "OK." but it's inevitable. the average age of the people who live here is 86. i love these people. even grumpy ol Mildred. i don't want them to pass away. when they do, it is just so sad. i do not want to be the person on the phone who is ringing and ringing while they are lying peacefully and dead in their beds. i just don't think it's right. until that day comes, my hands will continue to sweat and my heart will beat faster everytime i have to call the non-regulars who appear on "The List"