Betty, the Night Shift Nurse
We had a nurse that was an aggravating woman. At 64 years old, Betty thought she knew it all. She only worked part time and since she was elderly to us spring chickens, I was always patient with her even when she talked smack about me behind my back (she did that to everyone, though. I wasn’t a special case).
She was always quick to tell us that her son worked at the police station as a detective. Having cleared that up for any listener, she was always happy to come in and regale us with her own rendition of intimate details of a crime or ongoing case he was working.
She would tell everyone, “He called me tonight and told me all about...(Insert whatever news story was current at the time). He couldn’t wait to call and tell me what is going on.”
We ignored her. I don’t think any of us really believed he was busting a gut to call his mother and tell her personal details of a case he was working. We just let her have her say. It made her feel important so we let her be.
Whenever Betty needed a G-Tube (gastric) or NGT (nasogastric) inserted, I would go down and do it for her. The same with IV’s. Her hands were not steady enough to start the IV’s herself. I think she worked only to give herself something to do.
One particular night, I was having a rough go and I really didn’t want to be bothered. Like always, I knew she would come down to my floor to gossip and tell me all about the different staff members she knew something about. Since I didn’t feel like hearing it that night, I psyched her out.
When we heard the unmistakable sound of the doors down the back hall open, my CNA, Anne, said to me, “Here comes Betty.”
I quickly sat in a big wing back chair in the lobby in front of the nurse’s station and pretended to be asleep.
Betty came on the floor but didn’t speak. I knew she left when I heard the back hall doors open again. I peered through my eyelashes and saw my CNA’s, both of them, standing next to me, and staring at me.
“What are you doing?” Lavada asked as she laughed at me.
“Shh,” I answered, “I don’t want to listen to her complaints and gossip tonight. I have a headache.”
The doors opened again. “She’s coming back,” Anne stated in whispers and then they walked away.
I closed my eyes again and remained still until I heard Evelyn and Mae, the CNAs from the other wing, say, “I don’t believe it, Michelle is asleep!”
“Oh damn! I thought you were Betty coming back,” I exclaimed as I stood up. “What are you two doing down here?”
Mae answered while Evelyn laughed. “Betty came back and said you were asleep and we had to come see it for ourselves.”
“In the five years we’ve worked with you, we have never seen you fall asleep,” Evelyn explained, “So we came to see if it were true.”
Needless to say, Betty had made it a point to tell everyone she spoke to about it. Thankfully, no one believed it and figured out on their own that I was probably only pretending to sleep in order to avoid a conversation with her.