108. The Hospital Orderly (1)

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Jake was tired of his job. He'd been doing it for 10 years, and it wasn't getting any easier. He was a hospital orderly. That's a vague title that covers many specific duties—some of which are quite unpleasant. Whenever a patient threw up, for example, it was Jake's responsibility to clean the patient's body and face, remove all the soiled clothing and bed linens, put fresh bed linens on the bed, and put clean hospital clothing on the patient. After hundreds of such incidents, Jake still had not gotten used to the odor and sight of fresh vomit. It was disgusting. Every time he cleaned up vomit, he thought to himself that he wasn't getting paid nearly enough.

Jake was also responsible for checking a patient's blood pressure, taking his pulse and temperature (usually orally, but sometimes rectally), and doing electrocardiograms to monitor his heart condition. These chores used to be done by nurses or technicians. Now they were done by Jake. He fed patients who couldn't feed themselves. He helped move patients from their beds to gurneys, or from their beds to wheelchairs, and vice versa. Whenever a patient died in his hospital bed, it was Jake's job to zip the body into a plastic bag, put the bag on a gurney, and roll the gurney into the elevator and downstairs into the basement morgue. Sometimes he stayed in the morgue, just thinking.


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