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The first job I ever had was working as the “nurse” on-duty in the snack bar for the Big Sky drive-in theater.  I know what you’re thinking . . . okay I don’t know exactly what you’re thinking, but skepticism would not be unreasonable at this point.  I’ve scoured the internet and can’t find a single reference to this lauded profession.  If I hadn’t lived it, I wouldn’t believe it myself.  So stay with me and I’ll try to explain.

Teenagers in Ancient Times often hung out at the local drive-in theater.  It provided the perfect venue to get away with all manner of mischief . . . drinking, smoking, hooking up, brawling and general mayhem.  Theaters frequently catered to the demographic by playing horror flicks . . . always popular fair with the youth of America.  When I was about sixteen it became fashionable for these masterpieces of fright to be advertised as so terrifying that – to assure the safety of the general public – a “nurse” would be on duty in the snack bar during the showing.  Yeah I know, these days there would be a huge legal liability associated with such a claim, but remember we are talking about the Stone Age here . . . a nostalgic era prior to torts and class-action law suits.

Of course, it wasn’t a real nurse, rather some unfortunate, young girl in need of making a couple of bucks and I do mean a couple.  A friend of mine had the job before me.  She was given an opportunity to advance to a position behind the counter provided she could find someone to take over as the “nurse” on-duty.  Enter moi’.  The only requirement for the job was the ability to fit into a “uniform” consisting of a very short, plaited, white skirt and matching halter top that was closer to a bikini top than any kind of shirt I’ve ever seen.  Ownership of a pair of white boots was preferred.

My interview for this lofty occupation was donning the costume and doing a couple of twirls for the manager.  I started that same night.  I had to lie about my age, but you could do that in the Olden Days.  Nobody asked you to prove who you were or whether you were a citizen or held a valid green card.  I don’t even know if there were green cards back then.  I was issued a nurse’s cap and my life saving tools . . . a stethoscope and sphygmomanometer (Say that six times fast).  Thus equipped, I was literally thrown to the wolves.

There wasn’t normally much to do while the movie ran.  Once intermission commenced, it was a different story.  A horde of pimple-faced boys and middle-age perverts would descend on the snack bar.  These male miscreants had inevitably been so scared, they felt the need to be attended by a nurse.  This basically amounted to applying and pumping up the blood pressure cuff while protecting your womanly virtue.  Not once, in my time plying this trade, was it necessary to care for a female victim of the gruesomeness on the silver screen.  Go figure.

Needless to say, I survived the rigors of this employment experience with little more than a few bruises and blisters from the boots.  I can’t remember just how long it took to follow in my predecessor’s footsteps eventually landing the much sought after rank of ticket booth cashier, but I will always be able to say I was a teenage drive-in theater snack bar nurse.  How many people do you know that can lay claim to that?  Do you think I should add it to my resume?

Work . . .

Communication
Most insincere

Trying to guess what
They want to hear

Need a job so
The game I play

Trying to guess what
I’m suppose to say

Grin and bear it
Smile through it all

No job too much or
Compensation small

Really don’t want them
These jobs I pursue

My God how I hate
The interview

Love . . .

Communication
Not quite sincere

Try to be all that
Will keep you near

Need to be loved so
The words I say

Wait in fear seeing
If you will stay

Hiding my tears
Sweet through it all

No abuse too much or
Recognition small

Want you to love me
The one I pursue

But this feels like
A job interview

Life . . .

Communication
Heart felt, sincere

Trying to do right
Try to see clear

Pray for redemption
Every new day

Look to tomorrow
How it will play

Put weakness aside
Enduring it all

No trial too much or
Temptation small

More worthy a life
All I pursue

Just to be ready for
St. Pete’s interview

The room was filled with the souvenirs gathered throughout a life of adventure.  The bullroarer collected in the Outback lay on the shelf next to the Tumi knife picked up in Cuzco.  The Tibetan Thangka hung near the window opposite a Baule mask from the Ivory Coast.  The Xianpgi set bartered for in the Pangiayan Market and bone china tea set acquired in Edinburgh graced the top of the Kotatsu table radiating warmth from the corner.  Numerous bits and pieces amassed wandering the world vied with one another for attention in the small hospice room dominated by the hospital bed which had only recently dwarfed its fragile occupant.

A man well-traveled had just died here . . . alone.  For all his exploits, he had never had the time to make the human connection.  Never did he experience the greatest of all adventures.    Never did he wait with baited breath for the birth of a child.  Never did he work a job he hated to provide for a family he loved more than himself.  Never did he return to the loving arms of a woman graying and past her prime.   Never did he stand proud at the graduation of a son or the wedding of a daughter.  Never did he cry silent in the night not knowing how he would be everything needed by those in his charge.   Never did he hear the words “I love you” from one he had given up his dreams for.

The young orderly stood surveying the mess he was packing up for disposal.  He searched for a picture, or a letter, or indication of any kind there was someone that would want to know a lost and lonely soul had left this world . . . anyone that would want something here to remember the sad, miserable man that had spent the last days of his life in this forlorn place.  The youth closed and taped each box of the now worthless hoard of memories unshared, feeling a sorrow for the adventurer once envied. 

The cell phone in his pocket rang.  It was his wife.  The baby was colicky.  His son’s soccer team had lost.  The electric bill was past due. She was frustrated and exhausted.  She waited for him to respond, but he was only now understanding the treasures of his own adventures.   All he could say as he choked back tears was “I love you.”

I feel the calming
Meant to quiet me
But I cannot be tame

I know the intent
Is for my own good
I’m just not the same

I see their fingers
Pointed straight at me
Still I reject their blame

I hear those whispering
Hushed behind my back
And hand them back their shame

Sweet, soft whispers
Screaming through my quiet
I don’t want to hear it
I refuse to believe it
Go away

Gentle, warm sunrise
Shattering my darkness
I don’t want to see it
I refuse to accept it
Go away

Your impression on my flesh
Another promise soon broken
Your convergence with my soul
Another heartache to hurt me

I’ve felt all this before
I know it can’t last
Just a matter of time till
You go away

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