This story was written by Christy Hooley. Christy wrote it for her college comp class. Her assignment was to write about something that changed her as a person. She is a teenager who has shared what she has learned from working with senior citizens at Golden Oaks Retirement Village. What Christy has gained from the seniors she serves, has made her a more patient young women, who has learned respect for what the seniors have done in their lives to make her life better. She has learned what it feels like to go to work and be loved by the people she is serving. She has gained a family and she has gained lessons that will help her grow into a young woman with wisdom and understanding that takes most people a lifetime to learn.
Here is Christy’s story:
I have never had much patience or understanding of the older generation. I would always get aggravated when the elderly would take forever checking out at Walmart or taking forever ordering at restaurants. I just recently graduated high school, and I wanted to find a “big girl” job. So I began looking. I’ve always wanted to be a nurse and I wanted something to help prepare me for nursing. So I applied at Golden Oaks Retirement Village. I wasn’t hopeful of getting the job, but to my surprise I got it.
On my first day I walked in, and the smell of bleach and air freshener filled my lungs. I was so nervous, I was shaking. I was taken to the kitchen where I would be working as a waitress. It wasn’t the big girl job I wanted, but I told myself it could always be worse. I met the lady who was in charge of training me. She told me, “It’s a simple job, and the residents are sweet.”
So I put on the crisp white shirt and followed her into the dining room. I followed her around watching and also learning how to dodge walkers and run from high powered scooters.
I soon realized that I was going to need a lot of patience because when a resident wants something they want it now. The residents sit in the same place for every meal, and if there is a disturbance with seating order, the whole dining room is thrown off. The social dynamics of the dining room reminds me a lot of high school. Each table has its own set of personalities. One of the ladies’ tables is quiet and no one asks for much. Then there is the “it” couple. Even in the retirement village there is the, ‘popular’ group. This group would be the cool kids, but they are also the biggest pain in my butt. If one wants something to eat, they all want it.
I quickly picked up the routine and memorized what they drank, and what they typically would like to eat. It seemed that the foods I have always thought of as common are a strange alien food to the residents. I found myself explaining things like burritos. I honestly thought everyone knew what a burrito was, and it was shocking. I had never really thought about the advancements made from their generation to mine. Every time I have my phone out someone asks if that is a “smart” cell phone. They are amazed that I can talk, take pictures, and play games all on one little device. One man loved to take pictures with me on my phone because he had never had the opportunity to take pictures when he was my age. I always hear stories about how life was way back when, and it amazes me that these little wrinkly people are the ones who helped shape our country into what it is today. I could sit with all the residents and get a personalized history lesson and never here the same thing twice.
When I took this job I just wanted it for the money, but over the past three months I’ve gained a family. A family that forgets, gripes, takes forever, and can sometimes be rude, but I love every minute of it. Some people never experience this much joy at their job, and I feel sorry for those people. I didn’t always have the best attitude about work, but someone once told me it’s ninety-nine percent attitude and one percent circumstance. So now I walk in with a good attitude and it rubs off on to the people around me.
When I started working at Golden Oaks, it was what I thought was a strategic career move, but God had this planned for me. I now look at things through different eyes. I am now a little more patient when it comes to the elderly because things haven’t been handed to them like things are given to us now. I can’t say I’m a changed person because I’m not totally, but I am slowly working towards it.