Hazel’s frustration with the group of gossips was growing. It had been a week since it all began. In that timeframe, Hazel had dealt with snickering behind her back, not being invited to participate in a number of group-led activities, and having to sit alone in the morning when she had her tea. Millie had tried to keep the peace as much as she could, but after unrelenting confrontation by the group, she finally gave up. “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” she had said. Hazel sipped her tea from across the room as she watched her friend laugh with the rest of the ladies. Hazel was not impressed.
“I see they’ve seconded Millie into their league of nastiness,” Charlie said with a scoff. Hazel looked up at her husband, who had just walked into the dining hall. “Oh, hi there honey! And yes, it would seem that Millie has decided to leave her common sense on her bedside table these days.” Charlie took a seat. “I’m sorry you are dealing with this.” Hazel took another sip of her tea before replying. “It’s not even that they act the way they do that bothers me, it’s the whole point of it. It boggles my mind wondering what I honestly did to offend them.” Charlie watched the ladies as they occasionally glanced over in his direction. “You did nothing more than make them realize how inappropriate they act. Nobody likes being called-out when they know they are in the wrong.” Hazel nodded. “I suppose that makes sense.” Hazel continued to enjoy her tea while Charlie began to read the paper.
A loud cackle arose from the other side of the room. Charlie and Hazel looked over to see what all the commotion was about. The head gossiper was laughing uncontrollably, while the others flanking her joined in giggles. Across from her, one of the ladies in a blue cardigan was hunched over looking about ready to cry. Hazel couldn’t take it any longer. She got up from her chair and walked over to the group, and put her hand on the lady who was obviously the target of the group’s malicious laughter. “Is everything alright here?” Hazel asked, concerned. “Oh, it is of no concern to you…Sergeant Stick-In-The-Mud,” the head of the table replied. Hazel gave her a stern look, ignoring her immature comment. “Actually, it is my concern. I live here. We all live here. You wander about stirring things up for no reason whatsoever, other than it makes you feel good and everyone else miserable.” The giggling from the other ladies stopped. Hazel continued to speak. “You know what? I don’t even know your name. We’ve never been introduced properly, and that would be the adult way about this. So let’s start there, shall we? My name is Hazel Stewart. I live in 305 with my husband Charlie. We moved in four and a half months ago. And you are?” Hazel paused to wait for a response. The ladies at the table exchanged uncomfortable glances at one another, not really sure what to do.
The head gossip was noticeably caught off guard, sucking in her chin as she looked for support from her cronies. There was none. She let out a deep sigh and very slowly, and with much annoyance, replied. “My name is Ruby Henderson. I live in 316. There, now we are…properly…acquainted.” Hazel smiled graciously at Ruby. “Well, Ruby, I am glad we have finally met. I do hope to see more of you and I look forward to getting to know your friends.” She turned to Millie and smiled. “Millie, I know quite well. She’s a very sweet lady.” And with that, Hazel turned from the table and made her way back to Charlie, who was sitting slack-jawed in his seat.
“My dear, you’ve always amazed me with your grace and class.” Hazel just grinned knowingly at her husband. “I know, it’s why you married me, honey.” She remained to finish her tea, not looking back once at the group of ladies whose reactions Charlie could only describe as priceless.
Sometimes, residents have to take matters into their own hands to solve their problems. Interpersonal conflicts are hard for staff and site managers to resolve, as the issues are heavily rooted in personality differences and behavioural dynamics that are outside the scope of the assistance they can offer.
What do you think of Hazel’s approach to the problem? How would you have handled a similar situation? Share your thoughts with us below.