Dad decided that I was going to work in the nursing home the week before school ended for the summer, 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 was just hoping to scrape up a few hours a to work in a clothing store or babysitting the Brandt kids next door or something. But Zoe and her boyfriend, Austin, had wanted to smoke a joint in the car after the concert, so I showed up at one in the morning, two hours after curfew and smelling like weed. My Mom flipped. "I'm sorry I forgot to check the time, and I didn't smoke," I tried to say. But nope. Mom just cried and said, "Why, Samantha?" 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, Sam. 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 technically allowed to do medical stuff on 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 talk to the old people. I'm supposed to keep them comfortable, tell the nurses when they want food or need help going to the bathroom or something, and make sure they don't get lonely. "And let them talk, Samantha," Mariella 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. You're 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. Canyon Creek Community Nursing Home, it's called. It's not even a regular retirement community. According to Mariella, the patients at CCCNH can't live by themselves, and don't have family around able or willing to take care of them. There are some people there like Lulu, who always wants to talk. And there are a couple like Ebenezer, this guy who can't talk at all. Sometimes he wheezes and grunts and waves him arms, and I can't understand what he wants. If he seems upset, Dad says, I can always call a nurse. But I still have to treat him normal.