My overnight weekend shift has been increased an hour, adding a mandatory lunch. This does not please me. When I pointed out it wasn’t like I could go somewhere to eat or run errands at 2 a.m., I was told “this is what’s fair for everyone.” If this is socialism, I don’t care for it.
So now I arrive at 8 rather than 9, when there are still people and lights on and phones ringing and far too much activity for my liking. I “communicated” with the evening tech (ostensibly the reason for the overlapping shifts, as if notes haven’t sufficed for years), and she pointed at the dog’s treatment schedule and read it to me, as if I couldn’t read myself and had just been winging it for years, with extraordinary luck. We both thought this was stupid and unnecessary. Our boss, who implemented these critical changes, was naturally long gone for the day.
When you work third shift in a slightly dodgy neighborhood, in a hospital which has been broken into before (some dog drugs are just as good as human), you tend to pay attention to the position of things: whether that door was ajar before, or why a bandage roll is suddenly in the middle of the floor that wasn’t there earlier (which happened once; “Well of course the place is haunted,” they say matter-of-factly).
So you can imagine how my heart stopped when I took a dog out to the yard at midnight and saw this ladder on the ground, a large, heavy ladder tall enough to reach the roof, that had most emphatically been leaning against the building a couple of hours previously. And for that matter, I had personally latched that gate closed.
The dog with me was a dusty, bony chocolate lab. Would he defend me from an intruder? We had only just met. I was skeptical. He didn’t seem bothered (and if dogs are good for anything, it’s letting you know when they’re bothered), and a quick pass with a flashlight revealed nothing.
That morning after my shift, I dreamed of wrestling the hospital door shut against a snarling, determined man with hideous strength, and I woke up gasping.
It turned out the truth was much less exciting (it almost always is): the whole metro area had been beset with 45 mph wind, and it had probably knocked over the ladder. I say “probably” because it’s a very heavy ladder, in a sheltered corner with a large fence buffer. That man at the door seemed more real.