15-year-old Zoe Carlin gets stuck in what she thinks is the "worst summer job ever", working in the family's nursing home.
Dad decided that I was going to work in the nursing home the day after school ended, when I came home late from a Dead Kennedy concert. It wasn't even my choice. My parents had already decided that I needed a summer job, but I hadn't realized it was a serious threat until that night when I came home at one in the morning, two hours after curfew and smelling like weed. My Mom flipped. I tried everything from, "Trisha's car broke down," to "You're just imagining the smell." But nope. Mom just cried and said, "Why, Zoe?" over and over and Dad looked at his watch, stared at me, and said, "I'll tell the nurses you'll be starting on Monday, Zo. Welcome to the staff." And that was it.
Ugh. I mean, who actually wants to spend the summer before their sophomore year taking care of old people? It's a real job, too. I work 9-5 every day except Sundays, with an hour for lunch at noon. They might as well have stuck me in an office somewhere. Since I'm not allowed to nurse the patients, my job is just to help out where I'm needed. Sometimes I clean the kitchen or answer the phone, but mostly I just hang out with old people. I'm supposed to keep them comfortable, tell the nurses when they're hungry or need help going to the bathroom or something, and make sure they don't get lonely. "And let them talk, Zoe," Mariella, Dad's favorite nurse and my technically-boss, had said. "A lot of them miss their kids and grandkids. We try to spend as much time with them as we can, but we have to take care of everyone. Your work schedule is much more flexible. I'm sure you'll make friends fast."
Well, she was at least half right. I never knew how much old people like to talk about their families. I guess if I had grandparents around I might be used to it, but Mom's parents live in Nebraska and Dad's died when I was a baby, which is why he decided to open a Nursing Home. Carlin Community Nursing Home, it's called. It's not even a regular retirement community. According to Mariella, my boss, the patients at CCNH can't live by themselves, and don't have family around able or willing to take care of them. In addition to quality nursing care, our staff takes pride in the personal attention each patient recieves, and the warm community environment that makes Carlin unique, says the brochure that Dad gave me on my first day. I took it home and threw it in the trash. This is going to be a long summer.