In Which a Ladder Strikes Terror Into My Heart

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.

If this doesn't freak you out, you've seen too many horror movies.  Or not enough.

If this doesn’t freak you out, you’ve seen too many horror movies. Or not enough.

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.

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4 thoughts on “In Which a Ladder Strikes Terror Into My Heart

  1. Of course “heavy wind” is just the secular term for “you nearly got eaten by a demon that can’t access a roof without a ladder.”

    How scary! I don’t know how you can stand to be alone there all night. However I don’t think you need to worry about a snarling junky with “hideous strength”. Those kind of pain meds are not doing anyone any favors in that department.

    • In my dream he wasn’t a junkie, just a scary man.

      I will be thrilled the day I can finally quit this place, but I’m still a few hundred thousand dollars short of being in that position.

  2. Okay, two things. Number one, even though I for sure got a confirmation e-mail, I have not been getting e-mail updates when you post. So…back to checking your blog manually. Technology can’t be trusted and I was a fool to believe I could.

    Number two, happy birthday. Unless technology is lying to me again and it’s not actually your birthday. In which case, I apologize for wishing you happy birthday and adding another year to your age that you will have to lug around for the rest of your life. Birthday wishes are secretly a curse like that.

    My job also went through the whole mandatory 1-hour lunch thing. Their reward is that they can often find me passed out asleep in the break room with a book in one hand and a half-eaten sandwich in the other.

    Was crossing my fingers for “alien ladder invasion”. I don’t know if I meant aliens invading with ladders poking out of the bottom of their spaceships, or ladder-shaped aliens.

    (I’m going to click the “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” button, but I have my doubts over whether it will work.)

    • I’m sorry technology has disappointed you, Jaime. We’re supposed to have personal jet packs by now, and instead we can barely manage email notifications. So unfair.

      It is indeed my birthday, and thank you 🙂 (also, I get an extra year to lug around whether you point it out or not, unfortunately)

      It’s just that an hour lunch makes sense for the day shift (although they hate it too), who would have to battle traffic and wait in lines if they wanted to go somewhere to eat. At 2 a.m. this isn’t really an issue. The girl I “communicated” with said that in protest, they’ve decided to sit in the breakroom and ignore their coworkers, no matter how slammed and harried they get, because they’re on their sacred lunch hour. This is why Tery never instituted one, because there’s no way to predict the work flow up front.

      It’s just another mid-level boss making changes just for the sake of making changes. Fixing what ain’t broke. And you’d better believe there’s going to be some sleeping going on during my hour.

      Ladder-shaped aliens sound like a new Doctor Who villain, straddling the line between creepy and silly.

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