Mar. 22, 2017

The Centerfold

When I was a young nurse I worked in a nursing facility that housed 190 beds. I was considered a "float nurse” because I worked all five stations on any given day. Each desk had their regular charge nurse that worked steady on the floor. I was one of the floats that filled in on their off days or worked along with them in order to have two nurses per floor.

Marcy worked 1st station, 7-3 shift, as the regular charge nurse for days. Hazel worked the graveyard shift, or 11-7 shift, as the regular charge nurse for nights. I noticed a routine between these two nurses that transpired during the changing of shift: Hazel signing off to Marcy. Every morning Marcy would come in and throw open the curtains with gusto and say, “Hazel, why do you have these drapes closed? It’s going to be such a beautiful day today!”

And every morning, as if she didn’t just go through this yesterday, Hazel would answer, “Well, Marcy, you know with the light on, people can see in but we can’t see out so, at night, I close the drapes so no one can creep up on me and stare at me through the winder (Hazel's pronounciation of the word window)."

I asked Marcy once, “Why do you do that to Hazel? She is such a sweet person. You know why she closes those drapes.”

“I know,” she answered. “I'm just messing with her.”

I decided to prank Marcy. I stopped by the 7-11 on the way to work the next morning and picked up one of “those” magazines. I think it was a Playgirl - it used to be we could just get them off the shelf like a National Enquirer. Now, you have to show picture ID, pictures of your firstborn child, the boy you went to prom with and bring three witnesses to verify you are, in fact, old enough to be looking at a winky.

I got to work ten minutes before Marcy was due to arrive and while Hazel was down the hall doing a final check on her residents, I taped the centerfold (who, mind you, had a very big winky) to the window and just stepped back and waited for “it” to happen as “it” did every morning.

The first thing that went wrong and didn’t usually happen was, Marcy was late. I was terrified Hazel would take the initiative and open the drapes for Marcy, thus totally throwing the prank off-key.

The second thing that went wrong was Hazel had a bad night. She was usually so perky and jovial. I think that day is the only day in six years of knowing her that I had ever seen her frown. Hazel was cranky.

The third thing that went terribly wrong was, for the first time ever, Marcy brought her eight-year-old daughter to work with her. Her daughter was dragging her feet that morning and missed her bus. Therefore, it threw Marcy out of sync with her routine and, in turn, making her late for work. Marcy was cranky too.

All I could do was stand in the background and watch. Everything had already been set in motion. What should I have done? I was truly conflicted when the big moment came (and if you saw the winky, you’d know pun was intended). Should I stop Marcy from pulling back the drapes and ruin my awesome practical joke or should I let it continue on its course of hilarity? After all, those two needed a smile and that man’s winky sure made me smile.

As if being cued, Marcy reached over the desk and grabbed the drapes. As she’s reaching, she starts her spiel. Hazel, being cranky, didn’t wait for the question to end before she began answering. I slipped in closer to the child and tapped her on the shoulder, drawing her attention away from what her mother was doing. I asked her some meaningless question about school. After all, my sole intention was to distract the child and let things go on in their natural order of “it’s way too funny to stop it now,” path it was heading.

Marcy, trying to be cheery starts, “Hazel, why do you keep these drapes closed? It’s such a beautiful …”

Hazel’s retort, “Well, Marcy, you know when the lights are on people can see …”

The drapes get snapped shut and Marcy turns around and calls MY NAME! Not Hazel, who could have just as likely perpetrated this dastardly deed, seeing how she had been there all night and I had only just arrived several minutes before Marcy. No! She said my name!

“Just for that, you’re taking my daughter to school this morning while I start meds,” she demanded as she ushers her daughter out of the nursing station.

"Now, Marcy, how do you know I did that?" I insisted. I was just a little put out that without even considering the possibility Hazel was the one responsible; she pointed her fingers at me.

"It smells like you," she answered laughing.

Hazel, not caring if I was pointing a finger at her or not says, “Wait a minute, let me have another look at that picture,” and puts her glasses on as she peers between the closed drapes (she didn’t need glasses, trust me).

When I returned from taking said child to school, all of the morning shift nurses were down there, or had been down there, gawking at that man’s winky! It was shameful! If that man only knew, I'm sure he'd be embarrassed.