I’m about to blow your mind. Did you know there is actually a designated side of the cutting board one is supposed to use? They are not, in fact, reversible?
The first dinner hour spent at a friend’s house created a learning moment. She carefully demonstrated how to tell which side of the cutting board is meant to be used and which side is “just for show.” #iloveyoucrazywoman
That wasn’t the only lesson I learned thanks to said friend. The next morning at 0600 I found myself walking the florescent corridors of her workplace – a Christian hospital with morning prayers played over the loudspeaker. A few hours and dozens of tasks later, a young, blonde physician’s assistant snapped her fingers at me as I waited for my friend to sign off paperwork at a nurse’s station.
“You! You speak Spanish? Here. Come with me.” The P.A.’s attack-the-world countenance left no room for argument. Seconds later I was trying to explain that a tiny Mexican grandmother’s too-tight bandage was causing her pain.
The day continued in hodge-podge fashion. In the aftermath of the job-shadowing, I decided against ever entering the medical field.
Hospitals are Crazy
If you haven’t been in a hospital in the last ten years, the number of people that come and go in a patient’s day would probably shock you. Processes and treatments have been broken down into incremental parts, each addressed by specialized experts for maximum efficiency.
Gone are the days when you just laid in bed with a nurse showing up every once in a while and the doctor visiting once a day. Now, in the course of a morning, you might be visited by a physician’s assistant, a nurse, a physical therapist, a social worker, an educator, a coordinator, and even a doctor or two of varying specialties.
Having “expert care” delivered by twenty different faces working rotating shifts in ten different departments is both a boon and a curse. It seems an inverse relationship exists between humanity and efficiency. The thicker the red tape becomes, the less connected care providers are to their charges, it seems.
I can say, definitively, that I hope I don’t end up in a hospital bed. Although, solving the puzzle of who’s who and what’s what would keep me entertained for the duration, I’m sure. To be clear, my appreciation for those who make this complicated world of acronyms and systems their life’s work is immeasureable. Especially since I doubt I could commit in the way they have!
Fish & House Guests?
Job shadowing was just a single day of a glorious, ever-extending visit to a woman with whom I’ve swapped laughter and tears for half my lifetime. I helped her move to the middle of the U.S. ten years ago, and I failed to visit a single time since. Instead, we’ve caught up in our shared hometown, traveled together, and spent hours on the phone. (Honestly – if talking were running, we’d be marathon champions by now.) However, a visit to her home was long overdue.
A visit of a few days turned into a few weeks, thanks to the unanticipated intensity of the Australian Partner Visa process.
Boyfriend and I thought everything would come together after two or three rounds of 9 to 5. Eight times we said, “We’re sure we’ll be finished tomorrow.” We spent the majority of each “tomorrow” grinding through old bank statements, obtaining fingerprints for the FBI, tracking down proof of our relationship and identities, and trying very hard not to kill each other.
My wonderful friend repeatedly insisted the longer we stayed, the happier she’d be. Thanks to the arduous visa process, I think we made her very, very, verrrrrrrrry happy!
The Fun Stuff
In the moments between visa-ing, we made steak and sushi dinners, got introduced to Dairy Chef, and went on daily dog walks in her neighborhood and surrounding parks. We watched movies (The Beach!) and comedy routines (Jim Gaffigan), ate pizza, barbecued, and drank plenty of scotch.
My favorite part of visiting friends for longer than just a weekend is getting to be part of their regular, everyday lives. We paid bills, fixed the fridge, and mowed the lawn. Friend and I spent several hours hunched over our computers working on her resume for a desired job change. I even got to enjoy her Sunday church service (and satisfied some lifelong curiosities).
Our failure to depart led to a cultural opportunity. We were still around for the season-opening football game in a state that only has one team. You have never seen a fan base so unanimously dedicated. The morning of the game, I went for a run. Everyone was decked out in red and white. Not “a lot of people” – everyone. The dad and son duo walking their dog? Team spirit. The woman out jogging? Team spirit. Yard mowers, car drivers, coffee drinkers… all spirited! Boyfriend got introduced to the American, living-room football party scene and saw the nation’s most dedicated fan base cheer its team on to its first season victory.
We had yet to claim victory over our visa, but decided it was time to stop letting it rule our lives. Plus, we could make it to my sister’s (30th!) birthday dinner if we pulled up stakes. Before we left, friend helped me acquire warm things for the unanticipated autumn we’d be spending in America. Her fancy-pants neighborhood makes local thrift shops into absolute treasure troves. Somehow I scored an entire winter wardrobe for $80. I wear your granddad’s clothes. With pleasure. ♣