Charlie was in a bad mood. His team had lost another playoff game, he had gone down to do his laundry and all the machines were in use, and now as he sat patiently waiting for the “Machine Hog” to come and collect their things, he was told that his favourite dining room staff member was leaving to go back to school. She was the only one that remembered that he hated onions. Now there would be onions in everything. Charlie grumbled to himself. This was not a good day.
He waited another twenty minutes. The laundry machines had all finished. The Machine Hog was nowhere in sight. He wanted nothing more than to take out all the wet laundry and dump it out on the floor – that would show them. He was planning it all out delightfully in his head when Hazel interrupted his thinking with a “tsk tsk.”
“Where have you been? I haven’t seen you all morning!,” Hazel asked with an accusing tone. Charlie met her tone with an equally unpleasant one. “I’ve been down here having my time wasted. All the machines are full and doing a whole lotta nothing.” “Well, we have things to do today Charlie!” Hazel said sternly. “Gosh, the only thing you have to do around here anymore is take the laundry down for me. I managed to get the entire suite tidied from top to bottom while you’ve been down here lollygagging.”
Charlie’s eyes narrowed. “Pardon me? I seem to recall a certain someone needing her prescriptions refilled yesterday? Who went out to get them? And who needed the transit explained to her so that she could go across town last week to get her hair done because the perfectly good hair salon right in this very building simply would not do?”
“I have been going to Lois for decades now and she knows how I like my hair. Don’t get like this Charlie,” Hazel warned. Charlie scowled towards the floor and crossed his arms. He knew better than to push this sort of silly argument any further with Hazel.
“Good morning!” Millie’s bright and cheery voice radiated like sunshine down the hall. “It’s nearly afternoon now,” Hazel replied curtly keeping a glare on Charlie. Millie was taken aback by Hazel’s less than happy demeanour, and was pretty sure she had just walked into an uncomfortable situation. Awkwardly, she tried to lighten the mood. “So, I was hoping to get out this weekend to check on the bulbs we planted, but with all this snow, it doesn’t appear like spring is on its way anytime soon.”
“Tell me about it!,” Hazel sighed. “I’ve been feeling trapped in here for weeks. The weather has been absolutely miserable…and so has Charlie.” Charlie looked up at Hazel and pouted. “Well, if I wasn’t cooped up with this nag, maybe I wouldn’t be in such a bad mood.” Charlie knew he had just entered the point of no return, but he didn’t care. He had a life filled with onions on the horizon. He could hear Hazel carrying on now, ranting away about “how dare he,” but he tuned most of it out. Poor Millie just stood there frozen and watched, not sure what to do.
At the end of Hazel’s enraged tirade, Millie tried to excuse herself and head back down the hall. “Where are you going?” Hazel asked her. “Um…,” Millie had no words. “I need a cup of tea, care to join me?,” Hazel asked. “Um…sure?” Millie responded, knowing full well a “no” would have been the wrong answer. Hazel had already started down the hallway towards the dining room, and was several paces ahead.
Millie carefully turned to Charlie, who was lost in his own thoughts, and whispered, “It will be nice to finally have some sunshine and get everyone outside. Being cooped up does no one any good.” Charlie nodded. “I agree. I think I’ll head out for a walk in the slush. Maybe buy some flowers for Hazel at the shop on the corner. That always seems to get me out of the doghouse.” The two of them chuckled a little, and Millie headed in Hazel’s direction.
“I hope I haven’t kept you waiting long.” The Machine Hog had appeared out of nowhere and was now emptying the dryer. “Only a little while – don’t worry about it,” Charlie said, and pretty convincingly at that.
Just like in any other environment, people have good days and bad days in seniors living. Minor inconveniences, disappointments, a change in routine, and relationship dynamics can all play a factor. Restrictions on what one can do given weather conditions also have a huge effect – gloomy weather often leads to feeling gloomy, as it does in any other home.
It’s important to reach out and connect. Whether you are a staff member, a family member, or a fellow resident, keep in mind that people can sometimes have “bad days.” Living in a community with multiple people can create various unexpected dynamics – and sometimes it’s just a matter of seeing things as opportunities rather than inconveniences.
Share your thoughts on how you get through not so good days below. They might help brighten someone’s day.