Home > Rayne > Slave vs. Employee

Slave vs. Employee

December 8th, 2007

There are times when being the type of slave Master wants me to be and working where I work just don’t mesh well together. Sometimes I have to choose between following Master’s rules and following the company’s rules. And it isn’t always clear if following the company’s rules is under the umbrella of following Master’s rules.

I don’t know how much I’ve told you about my job. I cook at a lower-end assisted living facility. No big deal, right? It shouldn’t be. It usually is. There are a vast amount of responsibilities T never told me about when she offered me the job. I’ve since come to the conclusion that she really couldn’t comprehend the amount of responsibility that falls on the kitchen staff’s shoulders. I don’t think she does still after almost a year of being Food Service Manager.

As uncertified dietitians we are required to keep track of everyone’s diets, likes and dislikes, food allergies, weight loss/gain, food-related illnesses (e.g. diabetes), etc. When they’re in our dining room, they are to adhere to the rules of their diets and the rules of our kitchen. We’re charged with keeping the peace during meal times (an interesting feat in and of itself), making sure they’re eating right, just plain making sure they’re eating, and watching to make sure no one chokes or anything, among other things.

This puts me in control of twelve men eight hours a day five days a week.

Generally speaking, it doesn’t even weigh in my mind. I see it more as aiding them in taking care of themselves. Most of them know the rules and adhere to them. But when I have to enforce the rules for some of the more difficult ones…

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been having trouble with one of the male residents. He sees women almost the same way Master sees them and has a difficult time (mostly because of his pride) following rules that, from his vantage point, women have put in place (though they’re actually put in place by the male-owned company and the state) and enforce. I used to just let it roll off my shoulders. Who cares if he’s mean to me? I mean, I am a slave after all. But I’m finding myself having an increasingly difficult time allowing it to just slide off like it’s nothing.

Something I used to deny and have since learned is true in working here is that everyone has favorites when dealing with a group of people, be they your children, your coworkers, your residents, etc. Having favorites isn’t exactly a bad thing. What’s bad is when you give your favorites special treatment. I don’t, and go out of my way to make it clear that I don’t, but it’s become pretty obvious that this man believes I do.

He’s a stroke victim and the stroke has left half of his body mostly useless. Part of that, however, is his refusal to try to relearn how to use his limbs. He can speak well, which puts him ahead of some of the other stroke victims we’ve had living there, but he refuses to do anything for himself. I’d almost rather he be reduced to the small vocabulary one of our other residents was left with. Being told to go fuck myself is a lot less hurtful than some of the things this man says to me.

Recently, his doctor and his family asked us to stop coddling him. Force him to stop feeling sorry for himself and get off his ass and do something about his situation. Make him do the things we know he can do for himself. And I made a personal decision to adhere to that. It is, after all, what’s best for him. And it’s the only way he’s going to regain any sort of motor functions on that side of his body.

This is unacceptable in his eyes. He views making him do things for himself as some sort of personal attack.

A few weeks ago, I made him do something for himself. Suddenly I can’t remember what it was. But I’ve never seen someone so angry about something so little. “How come you always spread eagle for everyone else but you won’t do shit for me?” And that was one of the nicer things he said. I reminded him that he was in my “territory”, asked him nicely not to behave that way and told him I’d rather not have to ask him to leave. He went back to his table and settled down until it was time for dessert.

Dessert was ice cream. We get the ice cream in the little Styrofoam (gods I hate Styrofoam) cups with the cardboard lids. As I was passing it out, he said to me, “ I only want it if you’re going to open it and microwave it for me so it thaws enough for me to eat it.”

I faltered. I had let my guard down. And I waffled between serving him, as I’m supposed to serve men, and following his doctor’s orders to make him do things for himself. I’ve seen him take the lid off of his own ice cream. I’ve seen him wheel the ice cream to the microwave and heat it himself. I know he can do it. But I’m a slave, aren’t I?

Finally, I pushed the urge to just do as I was told to the back of my mind and handed him the cup of ice cream. “I’ve seen you do all of that yourself. You can do it.” and I spun away to give someone else their dessert. “Fine. You can have it.” and he slammed it on the cart and left the dining room after another brief outburst about how I help everyone else but I never help him.

I wanted to scream back. I wanted to respond with all sorts of hurtful things.

Quite frankly, no one else asks me to do things for them. We have two other severely affected stroke victims (for a while we had three) and they never ask me to do anything for them aside from hand them their dish, pour them their coffee and have a conversation with them on occasion. Both of them are proud and stubborn. But instead of letting their pride keep them in a wheel chair and their stubbornness keep them from living, they are doing everything in their power to get their lives back. Both of them have trouble threading words together… they know what they want to say but they can’t form the words. Yet they try their damnedest to get their points across.

This man has just given up. And he’s never going to get it through his thick skull that he has to get off his ass and help himself at this point, that we, the medical staff involved in his recovery, have done everything we can to help him and the ball is now in his court, if we continue to coddle him and do everything for him.

I want to tell him that the reason I never help him is because I never help anyone else. Because everyone else is almost completely self-sufficient. Because everyone else wants to get better. They want to be able to take care of themselves. And he should to.

I want to tell him that I know he’s given up. That I know he holds the world accountable for what happened to him. That I know he thinks we all owe him something. I want to tell him that I know how he feels. That I’ve felt it.

But that’s where the slave in me draws the line. It’s not my place to point out a man’s flaws to him. Is it bad that I wish one of the male aides would?

Categories: Rayne Tags:
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: