A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-43

Staff Shortage

On Sunday morning, when I came to pick up our breakfast, it was not ready. “You have to do it yourself today,” said the dining room manager, who was scurrying around with bags and papers. “Only two people showed up this morning, Eric and me, so we put everything on the table over there and drinks and yoghurts are in the cooler.” It was no problem for me, so I selected my breakfast items and went home, but I noticed that the dining room was full and Eric was carrying a tray from the kitchen to one of the tables. I felt so sorry for them that I went back to the club after breakfast. Eric and Mary were cleaning up in the Café. I said, “Mary, if you run out of kitchen crew again, please let me help. I am up very early, so I can come in before breakfast to help in the kitchen. I am able bodied, sure footed, sound of mind, and I can follow orders. I can work in the kitchen and nobody needs to know about it. The only thing I need is an apron.”

“Oh, thank you so much, Ronny. We have plenty of aprons. I will ask the Chef’s permission and I will let you know. This is my last day.”

“Are you going on vacation?”

“I am going on a leave of absence. My dad had open heart surgery on Friday.”

“Was the surgery successful? Is he going to rehab?”

“I will be his rehab and I’m going to take care of Mom as well.”

“Goodness! Please let them call me if the Chef approves, and best of everything with your family.”

People often complain; people have left and people have died. There are over twenty vacant apartments. But you never know what goes on behind the scenes. Mary will have her hands full at her parents’ house, and I know that she has three school-age children who are taking virtual classes at home; she never mentioned a husband.

I am glad I volunteered. They did not call me on Monday, but I will be on standby. And I will go to the Manager to discuss what can be done about this ten year old, once beautiful facility that now lacks luster compared to other senior communities that have recently opened up. They were planning a total makeover of the common areas in February. Then Covid struck and nothing happened. But that does not mean that a dead cockroach can be lying in the downstairs exit for ten days without the cleaning crew removing it; and it does not mean that the coat closet that I showed to new cottage residents on Monday is full of chairs, a wheelchair and a walker. And, walking around the building multiple times a day, I notice more such things that can be easily fixed and cleaned by the maintenance crew. So I am going to talk to the Manager. Because I care about this beautiful campus and the nice cottages. No other community has cottages surrounded by nature. That’s why we will stay put. We can not yet envision living in an apartment in a four story building.

I did go to the Manager yesterday. He could not see me until 4:30 p.m., so I had time to write down everything on a list for him. I know that when we have a conversation he starts scribbling notes on a small notepad, but I wanted him to pay full attention. When he was ready, I sat down in his office and said, “I would like you to listen to me for a few minutes, and then I will take you on a tour. And you don’t have to write down anything, because I did that for you”, waving my list. He sat back in wonder. Two blue eyes above a white mask. First I told him that yesterday I had proudly shown two cottage newcomers the coat closet: and I opened the door. He looked like he had never known there even was a coat closet, and was aghast at what he saw:  there was no room to hang any coats. “Yes, these chairs have to go. I wonder where they came from.”

“Everything has to go, but not now.”

Then I took him outside, turned around and looked at the front door, the first image clients get of Waltonwood. “Oh no, this is not an antiqued door. I will tell Chris to get some stain and then Peter can stain it.”

“And this floor needs a good scrub.”

Next, we walked to the “meeting patio”, where for months family from the outside could talk to their loved ones for ten minutes through the glass door of one of the vacant apartments.

“The corner of the fourth floor gutter leaks. Look, it has not rained in three days, yet you can still see the drops come down, one…two…see? And the wall is stained and rusty, the border is a mud pool and the patio is filthy. The guests have to tiptoe on two tiles to “get across” to the patio.” I showed him another patio and more.

Do you know what I felt like on this tour? A combination of The Ghost of Christmas Past and the Ghost of Christmas-yet-to-come. I had fun with it. Lastly, I handed him my list. He was very appreciative, thanked me twice, and said he would be able to get all this done in three or four days. Yea! Mission accomplished! And I am going to watch that movie again: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Will you join me?

It’s a wonderful Life!

Until next time,



2 thoughts on “A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-43”

  1. You are an amazing woman!!! Well done, you, for taking the bull between the horns and marching into the manager’s office, “taking him by the hand”, and showing him some of the things that needed to be done. I look forward to an update as things are “smartened” up. Carol


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