Sunday, March 27, 2011

Movie day

Every Sunday afternoon the residents have a Movie Day. This is a major social event. It is also one of the few times that anyone ever uses the Royale's lounge room, as it's the biggest of the four lounges. The residents congregate there and they show a DVD on the big screen tv. The movies are usually golden oldies, but occasionally they show popular mild modern movies, say, The Bridges of Madison County or whatever. Then they have tea and coffee and something exciting, like chocolate biscuits or scones, etc. It's an action-packed afternoon.

This anecdote I wasn't actually present for. It was related to me by Carlotta, who is a Tongan lady who works with me in the kitchen. Carlotta is reliability personified. She's worked there for fifteen years and all the residents love her. She knows what she's doing and nothing bothers her. She is also built like a professional weightlifter.

Apparently this Sunday, Marjorie took it upon herself to attend the movie. I'm not sure that she usually does, considering she'd have been just as happy alone in the other lounge, but I'm guessing one of the carers encouraged her to go. Marjorie has a walking frame (Zimmer) that I refer to as her car. She has told me emphatically several times that she can't walk without it. Indeed, she is a large heavy-set lady who is usually quite unsteady on her feet. A couple of times she's forgotten to bring it to dinner and I've had to rescue her as she's hung onto the doorway of the dining room. She's heavy, all right. It feels rather bizarre holding the arm of someone that you know you can never possibly stop from falling if they actually stumble.

The Royale building has a huge wrap-around verandah at the front, and about 15 stairs leading to its grand threshhold. Yes, you guessed it, Marjorie tried to take her walker up those stairs. The upshot of it is she got all the way to the top with the walker, but then tripped up the last couple of stairs, and fell forwards scraping her shins badly and ending in a heap on the verandah. Arabella and Caroline, two of the personal carers, found her there as they were bringing some of the other residents to the movie.

Arabella and Caroline are both of Chinese background and are studying here on student visas. That's common to almost every single carer: they are all from overseas, all under 21, and all students. Putting it into more accurate terms, Australians are lazy snobs and do not want to work in a service job. Cry foul all you like, it's the truth. There are 3 kitchen staff who are Australian (I'm the first) and the other two are semi-retired women in their 50s. Every time Celia has advertised for staff she has Chinese, Korean, and Indian people apply, and nobody else. Anyway, Arabella and Caroline are both tiny diminutive scraps of humanity. Truly lovely girls with hearts of gold, but a fresh breeze would blow them over. So they heaved and tugged and pulled, but there was no way on earth the two of them could get poor Marjorie to her feet, even when Marjorie was trying to help.

(I wish I'd been there just to see those two girls attempt to get her off the floor. It would have been hilarious.)

So as Marjorie sat there marooned on the verandah, one of them ran to get Carlotta to help. Even with Carlotta and her strong arms it was proving a difficult task. Carlotta said, "Why don't we swing her legs around and onto the second step, so that we can help her up that way?"

So they did that, but as they tried to help Marjorie up she started yelling. "I'm not going down there!" she screamed. "I want to go and see the movie! You can't make me go back down there! My walker is up here! I'm going this way!" and the woman who could not get herself off the floor used surprising strength to stop them spinning her around towards the stairs.

Ever tried reasoning with a 2 year old having a tantrum? I don't think this would have been far off. Marjorie told me it took them another fifteen minutes to calm her down and get her to cooperate. The movie was delayed. I've no idea whether Marjorie even knew what it was about, let alone enjoyed her day.

Marjorie's now showing everyone her battle scars. "I had a heavy fall yesterday!" she exclaims to anyone who'll listen, lifting her pants leg to reveal an assortment of bandages and sticking plasters. I made the mistake of replying, "Oh, you poor thing," when she told me... I was greeted with a furious, "I'M NOT POOR! I'M MRS SANDERS!!"

...Uh... yes. Of course.


  1. I've been appreciating your stories, Elisa! Love that you find the humor in the situation and also approach people's stories with kindness.

    It's also interesting to hear Australians are similar to Americans when it comes to service jobs - I thought it was only our culture that was like that! Oh well.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks so much for your message, Jean. You made my day :)

    I'm glad you're enjoying the stories.