In the weeks following my release from the warehouse, I discovered that various administrative secretaries had wildly fucked up the paperwork associated with my case. This came as no surprise given the treatment I received while a resident. Faced with the almost impossible task of lighting fires under unconcerned asses, I phoned the warehouse office several times and attempted to perform the administration’s job for them. Whenever a clueless staff member answered the phone and put me on hold, I heard a pre-recorded advertisement for the warehouse.
While a sappy elevator ballad droned in the background, a soothing robotic female voice cataloged the benefits of placing “a loved one” in an institution. One or several health issues can thrust people, elderly or otherwise, into a situation whereby they can’t fully care for themselves—that’s harsh reality. But clearly a master manipulator had designed the advertisement to assuage the guilt that tortured one-dimensional yuppies debating whether or not to sweep their infirm, and therefore embarrassing and expendable “loved ones” under the rug.
“Delicious and nutritious meals” — The food that the cost-conscious administration fed to the residents tended to be nearly spoiled, though I’m sure they strived to remain within the law. You could especially smell and taste burgeoning rancidity in the meat; the bones in the chicken drumsticks were always broken. Brown patches splotched soggy lettuce and milk in single-serving cartons usually verged on sour. The toast served with powdered eggs every morning had been made from bread so stale that you couldn’t fold your slice in half—instead it literally broke in two. Every now and again breakfast meant disgustingly thin oatmeal that even Oliver Twist would refuse, or French toast sharing a pale-phlegm-green plastic plate with a ridiculously small paper cup full of tasteless water-laden syrup.
“Lively activities” — Bingo (average payout: 50¢), Candyland, Pictionary Junior, etc.
The staff strongly encouraged the (adult) residents to participate in “activities time” and chastised those who didn’t. The administration regularly lied to the guardians of prospective residents about the chastising.
“Nurse on duty” — Once I politely asked the first-floor nurse for a couple of aspirin. She tiredly looked up from the charts over which she pored, scowled and snapped: “Ain’t got none.”
“You mean to tell me that a medical facility in a major American city doesn’t have any aspirin?”
She rolled her eyes and sighed: “You’ll have to take that up with the administrator. Maybe there’s some aspirin on the second or third floor.” Under her breath she whispered, “Go bother them.”
On my way via the elevator to the second floor, I realized that she might be lying. I briefly considered the administrator’s priorities and concluded that she told the truth.
The nurse’s colleagues gave me the same answer and suggested I try the other floors. I encountered the same snake eating its tail a few months later when I asked for a Band-Aid.