Daisy Fae’s aside yesterday about her favorite office mate brought to mind my own favorite. Kay (not her real name) and I shared an office at the nursing home where I worked. She did medical records and I was the care plan coordinator. We were confined out of sight and mind (thank heaven) way in the back of the building, across from the kitchen and right next door to the laundry room. The dryers were just on the other side of a thin wall and we only had one small window, way up high that you needed a ladder to open and close. I will leave to your imagination the average daily temperature in that room. Thankfully, I hadn’t hit menopause yet.
In addition, in this approximately 15′ X20′ room there was a computer, a dot matrix printer, (it was a long time ago), file cabinets for all the medical records of the last several years, and our desks. It was cozy, to say the least.
Kay and I were both a couple of New-Agey, Paganish types, so we got along well. I think we spent as much time talking as we did working. It’s probably a good thing we only had one computer, and the Internet as we know it was still just a gleam in Al Gore’s eye.
We got up to some mischief any time we got the chance. One of out favorite things was seeing how much we could shock a couple of the fundamentalist Christian nurses we had to work with. For instance, one year we had a door decorating contest for Christmas, and one of the fundy nurses was the judge. So we decorated our door for Solstice. It was the prettiest door, what with blue, and gold and silver foil, but for some reason it didn’t win. I can’t figure out why.
We used to get up to tricks with the Irish Mafia, too. There would be impromptu pot lucks at our place after hours, and other goings on. During this time, too, we had an administrator who had absolutely no sense of humor and an exaggerated sense of the own importance. The whole place began to feel oppressing, and so humorous cartoons began to appear on the bulletin board in the staff lounge. One was especially evocative. It said, “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” But nobody would confess to putting it up. Soon we were forbidden to post anything on the bulletin board that hadn’t gone through administration.
I, however, had a bulletin board right next to my desk. And thanks to the Irish Mafia, a sign appeared on it that read “Póg mo thóin.” Which is “Kiss my ass” in Gaelic. My own little piece of rebellion. This worked well quite well to quiet my need for placing firecrackers under chairs in certain offices, until they hired an Irish nurse from the Gaeltach. We bribed her not to translate it for the nabobs, however.
The Irish Mafia, I should explain, was five of us of Irish ancestry that used to work closely together. And got up to stuff. One of whom had a particular penchant for telling the administrator and Director of Nursing to kiss his ass in Gaelic whenever they made some unreasonable demand. Which was frequently. They would often drop by on their way out to break and drag us out of that room to get some fresh air. And play pranks on us, too.
Kay and I went through a lot together. We both got our tubes tied during the three years we worked together. There were love affairs and divorces. Often we would bring each other “potlatch”, unexpected gifts. I think I still have some amber perfume she gave me. And sometimes in the winter, I would bring Reggie, my dog at the time, to work with me. Reggie and I would go and visit the residents, he was especially popular in the dementia unit.
I kind of miss that time. I had a job where I could set my own hours and schedule, and about every six weeks or so, I would take off for a long weekend. It was that or go nuts. It was probably the best job I ever had, but it would have been unbearable without Kay and the Irish Mafia.