Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Nervousness

On Service Learning

College is always somewhere, taking the form of nervous thoughts, of ever graduating, of coming and going, but today nervousness hinges on the idea of service learning. Sometimes the nervousness makes a little announcement about my forty-three years (as if there were some time limit on learning), then goes quietly away. There are times when it attaches itself in the form of extra credit work, my college psychology class project at the state mental rehabilitation hospital, the place I now go quietly. On this particular day, the nervousness travels the whole trip with me, actually, with me and my classmate. We go for three hours every Thursday to assist women patients who are up for being discharged; we do their makeup, hair styling--whatever-- to raise their self-esteem to a state of noticeability (yes, maybe even nobility). This is the state where my nervousness normally subsides; we do our three hours--hugs all around--and leave.
     I see the look on the security guard's face on my way out. He signals.
     I get on the phone and squeeze tight. It's Raeanne, the hospital activities coordinator. She says,“I’m sorry to ask you, but can you do a special favor for me?" 
  “Sure, I’d be happy to.” I'm feeling extra relaxed having spent time with the ladies.
     "Pat, we’re shorthanded here, and a male patient is asking to be taken to the store to buy some jeans. He’s insistent. Would you be able to take him to the Penney’s store in Sedro Woolley this afternoon?”
"Sure you won’t mind?”   
"Mind? Reanne, should I?”
     “Well, we haven't had him outside the hospital, ever. I'd rather give him to you than trust him with our security."
     "Penny's store in Sedro Woolley would mean undercover officers, they would have security," I think.
"The trip into town only takes about ten minutes. Don't you 
believe we should let him do some things on his own?"
"Oh, I'm sure there are many things he can do on his own. It's 
only, well it's a little late in the day, and my home in Oak Harbor 
drifts further as the sun sinks. My husband will be home by four, 
yes, I think he said four."
  “Well, we want our patients here to do things on their own, and it'll only take ten minutes, and, well I can't thank you enough.”
     “Yes, the ten minutes that will take an hour," I think. This taxi cab will get him to town and plunk him safely back in the hospital in a matter of minutes, another satisfied customer from J.C. Penny. He won’t even know what hit him. Am I missing something here? Yes, I will come to my senses and do this for her.
     “Great, I knew I had the right person,” Reanne says, "I'm so relieved."

copyright 11.04.11
smokey road publishing
all rights reserved

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