Monday night's Scared Volunteer was a woman who personified the Voice of Doom, the ultimate "I can't learn anything new, I barely know how to use electricity" type of person. She spent the first two hours of her shift describing to me in horrifying detail the leukemia, rapid descent toward death, actual death, funeral arrangements, funeral service (including the viewing, the vast hordes of mourners who attended, etc.), and post-funeral family gatherings of "the love of [her] life."
I naturally assumed she meant her husband, but then she said her husband had died 14 years before. This was just her octogenarian love buddy, apparently.
I cringed much of Monday night.
Tuesday's batch of Scared Volunteers consisted of a 91-year-old charmer who was afraid of the machines at first but after about 20 minutes thought they were THE GREATEST THING IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD!!!, because the scanners just make things SO EASY and she doesn't have to type prices in anymore and how wonderful is that???
The other two women did all right. One of them kept saying, about every 27 seconds, how stupid she was, how the machines were smarter than she is, how she'd never learn, how she might just have to stop volunteering, blah blah blah. The other woman understood the machines in almost no time at all and was pretty laid back, mainly rolling her eyes at the "I'm stupid!" woman's endless jabbering.
It's been an utterly
fascinating week.Tuesday night brought the Teased Hair and Plucked Eyebrows woman whose manicured nails were unbelievably hard. I know this because when she pressed any keys on the cash register, the clacking sound could be heard clearly by whales near Antarctica. She spent most of her shift telling me about her recent trip to Mexico with a female friend who needed $30,000 of dental work but could get it done just over the border from San Diego for only $2,700, and how it turned out to be 8 root canals and 27 caps, and how the woman has some heart trouble that prevented use of Novocaine and/or nitrous oxide, and so she just clenched her fists and moaned and kicked a lot.
I cringed a lot more Tuesday night.
Today was pretty easy. The morning shift brought one of the women from Tuesday's midday shift, and she did just fine; the other volunteer was a man who spent 27 years teaching in high schools all over the valley. He didn't have much computer experience but picked up the basics in no time, and soon I was just standing there while the two of them ran the shop and I answered a question now and then.
The midday shift was a trio of attentive and excited ladies who were mildly intimidated at first but thought the scanning was just wonderful, and the credit-card acceptance was just wonderful, and isn't it wonderful how big the numbers are on the screen and how easy it is to read and how simple to get the prices in there?
And tonight's shift was an easy one, three volunteers who were happy to learn a new way of doing things. Two of them, a husband and wife who live right by the hospital, left early to get home in time for the Jeopardy! game show with the guy who's been winning for 18 years or whatever, and the third, an absolutely adorable little lady named Gail, just chattered amiably about her family and about the gift shop's regular customers and how she cooked dinner for 45 people (all family no further away than grandchildren) on Saturday night, and how she loves to cook, especially since her husband died seven years ago.
Oh also, how pleased she was to find out her home is exactly 11.3 miles away from the hospital.
It's been an utterly fascinating week.