The Administrative Assistant professionally ignored Paul as he squirmed in the outer office plastic chair. This was the third time he had been called in to see Mrs. Anderson. He cursed inwardly, not really wanting to know what had happened this time and wondering if “I’ll talk to her” would cut it anymore. He crossed his legs, uncrossed them, scuffed his right shoe with his left, and was just plain feeling hellish.
A buzz sounded, some muffled talk. Then: “Mrs. Anderson will see you now.”
Paul creaked getting up, thanked the AA, and opened the door to-he assumed-get talked down to.
“Have a seat, Mr. Daniels.” Mrs. Anderson pointed to a chair that sat diagonally to her desk. She, squat and broad shouldered, had her arms on the desk top, her hands resting on a blue folder. Paul sat, glanced at the folder, tried to read the note (upside down) that was on top, as Mrs. Anderson pulled the paperwork towards her.
“Mr. Daniels, we have a problem with Ethel. I am not even sure what to do with her.
Sighing, Paul asked: “What did she do this time?”
“It’s continuous. Disruptions during programs. Bothering others. Stealing. Throwing tantrums and food at lunch time. Now she is bullying the others to do what she wants, all the time. They are afraid of her. I’ve had reports of not just vicious gossiping but pinching and other underhanded methods. The last straw was today: she pulled the chair out just as Sydney was going to sit down. He fell, hurt himself, and had to be taken away by an ambulance.
I saw her do it, Mr. Daniels. I saw her eyes light up, a huge smile cross her face, and before I could do anything she pulled the chair out from under him.”
Paul wanted to crawl in a hole. He tried “I’ll talk to her,” but the look Mrs. Anderson gave him stopped the words in mid utterance.
“You will DO something, Mr. Daniels, or I will be forced to ask you to find another place for her.”
There was the word DISMISSED hanging around the room, and Paul read it loud and clear. He got up, apologized, and left. As he walked away from the office, he wiped the sweat that had formed on his brow. The Administrative Assistant watched Paul leave with a smile on her face.
Ethel was sitting alone in the hallway, arms crossed over her chest, head back against the wall, feet just slightly dangling over the floor. Paul sat down next to her with a very heavy sigh.
She turned her head and glared at him. “What!?” she asked.
“Really? Pulling the chair out from under someone?”
“He had it coming. He’s been trying to hold my hand. He even tried to kiss me.”
“You can just tell him to stop, or report him.”
Ethel grumbled something under her breath, put her head back on the wall and stared up at the ceiling.
“Mother…you can’t keep doing these things. She’s ready to kick you out of the nursing home. Please, mom, this would be the third place. You have to behave.”
Ethel blew a raspberry. Paul put his head in his hands.