Crankiness was rampant at Covenant Woods last week. Tuesday, when I rolled up to the table in the dining room, Jim and Al had already ordered. After Cici, our server, took my order, she turned and made her way across the room. As she did, Jim put his hand up and said, "What about my coffee?" Cici couldn't see the hand, she was walking away from us, and probably couldn't hear him. It's doubtful the folks at the next table heard him, and Cici was halfway across the room.
A few minutes later, Jim watched Cici put a glass of water in front of me and didn't say a word about his coffee until she was well on her way to another table. And when he did speak, only Al and I heard him. Correction: I was the only one who heard him; Al isn't hearing much of anything these days. When Cici came back with the soup, she asked each of us if we wanted some before setting a bowl at each place. Again, Jim never asked about his coffee until Cici was on her way to another table.
"Where do they get these people?" Jim said. "That girl is terrible. I've asked for coffee four times, and I still haven't got it."
Cici soon returned with our salads. This time Jim asked about the coffee while Cici was standing by our table, prefacing his request with a few words about Cici's incompetence. She apologized for not hearing him ask for the coffee and went off to get his cup of joe.
When it came time for dessert, Jim asked Cici about the sugar-free dessert. She told him there was sugar-free ice cream but no sugar-free pie or cake to go with it. "Well, just give me some sugar-free chocolate ice cream," he said. Whether in an attempt to make up for not getting the coffee sooner, or in an attempt to replace the sugar-free pastry that wasn't there, Cici brought Jim two cups of chocolate ice cream. When she was safely out of earshot, Jim said, "Well, she redeemed herself."
Myka had coffee trouble with Coach, Thursday evening. As soon as he sat down, Coach asked for a cup of coffee, and Myka promptly got him one. When Coach emptied the cup, he wanted it refilled immediately. That was just about the time all the dinners came up, and Myka was busy delivering meals to the twenty-five or so residents in her section. Coach did not appreciate having to wait and told Myka as much when she got his coffee. "You're a sorry excuse for a server," he told her. Before he went back to his apartment, Coach told Orwin, who supervises the dining room staff, that Myka was the worst server in the place. "We were shorthanded tonight, and Myka did a very good job," Orwin told him. Coach turned and left.
Friday afternoon, Al called and asked me to come to his room. The man was upset. Al wanted to talk to Donelle, the Covenant Woods' fiscal person. She had been helping him with a packet he needs to get together and send to some people in Savannah. Earlier in the day, Al had called the desk a few times and asked to speak to Donelle. Each time, the woman told him Donelle wasn't available. Normally, the person on the desk during the week is Shirley, but she was off Friday. The woman who replaced her, according to Al, "is the dumbest thing on this earth." His verbal assault went on for ten minutes before I was able to convince him that maybe the woman wasn't dumb; maybe Donelle really wasn't available.
Fortune smiled on me Saturday evening when I took a much needed trip to the laundry room. When I got there, two of the four washers were in use, as was one of the three dryers. Once I put my laundry in the two available washers and heard the water rushing into them, I took a closer look at the dryer situation. It wasn't good.
The available dryer was No. 2. The last time I used No. 2, my clothes would have dried faster if I'd hung them on a line outside. No. 3's cord and plug were draped over the the control panel like a beaten fighter hanging on the ropes. I was going to be the odd man out with the dryers, I was sure of it. Women are strange creatures in the laundry room. They heed the washing instructions on the little tag inside of every piece of clothing. This has to be in the dryer for fifteen minutes on high, this seven minutes on medium, and this twenty minutes on low. I was going to spend the evening in the laundry room waiting for a dryer to become available. I'd be there until dawn.
As my clothes were going through the wash cycle, the two washers with some other person's clothes completed their spin cycles and fell silent. The mystery launderer would walk in momentarily, and my long night would begin. It wasn't until my two washers started the spin cycle that someone came in. I was reading and unaware of the intrusion until she said, "Hey, Tom." Being more than a little spastic, I nearly jumped out of the wheelchair.
I don't know the woman's name and could say nothing more than, "Hi, how are you?" She took the clothes out of No. 1 dryer - the good dryer - and left. Moments later, my washers stopped. There was still no sign of the person whose clothes were in the other two washers. I had to work quickly and get my clothes in dryer No. 1 before the other person showed up.
The faster I try to move, the more clumsy and uncoordinated I become. It must have taken ten minutes for me to get the clothes out of the washers and into my basket, and another three or four to get them over to the dryer. Just as I dropped the first item into the dryer, Mary walked in. "I fell asleep," she said, as she took her clothes out of the washers and put them into dryer No. 2.
An hour later, I took my clothes out of the dryer, carted them to my apartment, dumped them on the bed, folded them, put them away and crawled into bed after the three of the more productive hours I've had in a month.
In talking to some people Sunday afternoon, I found out dryer No. 2 has been repaired and is now the best dryer in the place. No wonder Mary didn't look disappointed when she had to use it.
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