Mabel packed an ass the size of a small continent. Her gargantuan derriere and beer-barrel legs appeared wildly mismatched to her plump but normally proportioned upper body. The warehouse administration employed Mabel as head nurse. (There’s a joke in there somewhere.) While the stubby angle of mercy pushed a cart filled with medicines and dressings from room to room, she didn’t walk so much as laboriously waddle. When she pulled a graveyard shift, she routinely interrupted the slumber of residents in order to tend to their medical demands. Of course some residents needed round-the-clock care, but clearly not everybody required frequent attention. Shortly after I arrived at the warehouse Mabel woke me at 4:00 am for some reason—I don’t remember why, so the reason couldn’t have been too stellar. She had roused me from a deep and much-needed sleep. Though I more or less knew the answer, I indignantly asked: “Do you know what time it is?”
She maintained a poker face and concentrated on her work while she over-enunciated: “Yes, it’s 4:00 am.”
That day I complained to Mr. Gold. He claimed that he was powerless, that she did her job as she saw fit—his explanation qualified as condescending bullshit. Then he smugly admonished me to “accept the reality of [my] situation.” (In the ensuing years he would repeat this directive with the zeal of an evil hypnotist.)
Often on weekday mornings she rushed into the warehouse twenty minutes late for work reeking of pot. People who would have objected didn’t recognize the odor; those familiar with the skunk-like bouquet remained unfazed.
“Really? Mabel?” Tim seemed intrigued. Maybe he’d conjured a mental image of the skeletal CNA humping the squat head nurse.
“Yeah,” Kelvin answered. “She take real good care of her mens, too. She always be ironin’ my lab coat an’ she always be slippin’ ten, twenny dollar bills in my pocket.”
“Really? Sounds like she’s sweet on you.”
“Yeah but . . .”
Kelvin sighed. “Last week she call me on the phone one night to come over but the game was on. I tell her I see her the next night but not tonight ‘cause I be watchin’ the game. She say okay like she unnerstan and everything and hang up. But ever since, she be actin’ all funny and I be havin’ real, real bad luck.”
Tim earnestly suggested that Mabel had put a voodoo spell on Kelvin. The CNA genuinely and profusely thanked Tim for the insight, announced he would investigate, then left the room to go empty bedpans or something.