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Volunteer Diary: Day 10

August 24th, 2011  |  Published in Volunteering

As you may have read on Twitter, my new goals are to study for the MCAT and practice yoga, each for twenty minutes daily. I’ve also been living in this fantasy world where I will be “early to bed, early to rise,” functioning like the rest of society in a cheery manner at eight o’clock in the morning.

Needless to say, somehow, in the tenth week of my volunteer experience, I managed to toss all of my goals out the window. First of all, I woke up late and exhausted; but I rushed to get ready, and was convinced the next best step would be to purchase an overpriced drink at Starbucks. As I pulled into the crowded lot, I saw the busy drive-through line, and convinced I was going to outsmart the other patrons, grabbed an empty parking space and dashed into the coffee shop with my wallet.

frappuccino flickr/barbz365My drink was prepared in record time, I found a straw without looking like a total fool. And…no keys. Looked around the store (now I’m starting to look deranged.) Hustling out to my car, I dodge impatient coffee-deprived drivers, and lo and behold, the keys are happily nestled in my car’s cup holder. Just to amp up the insanity factor, I attempt to pry open the window of my car…with  my wallet. I almost angrily wave-on a parking lot-vulture, telling him that the spot will not be freed any time soon as I cannot move the car sans keys.

This is when I am forced to slink back into the Starbucks and ask some poor soul for their phone. I pick a business professional with his phone on the table and relay the story. Of course mentioning that I have to call my dad for help; this way I look even more juvenile than usual. My dad tells me he’ll call back when he secures a locksmith, but when I point out that I am not able to guarantee use of this friendly man’s phone, he tells me to wait it out and that a locksmith will come no matter what. (This is why I live at home.)

So there I am, in the parking lot. I am a veteran in the locking-keys-in-the-car charade. Perhaps my week of yoga induced my zen mood; or my sleep deprivation prevented my brain from reacting properly. I lean on my car outside of the Starbucks and leisurely sip my drink, likely garnering stares as I resemble a mental institution-escapee in my all-white scrubs. Finally, I empty my overly-expensive glass of Frappucino and return to the restaurant to toss out the cup.

I’m not sure of how much time has passed at this point, but having locked my keys in the car countless times prior, I was sure it would be at least twenty more minutes. I decided to purchase a newspaper (a rarity for me, I usually read the paper online). I spend a few minutes in debate; there is no juicy article on the woes of our local public hospital in the local paper, so I instead decide to spend the extra buck on the New York Times, appreciating their journalistic art. As I am rung up by a former high school classmate who doesn’t recognize me–fortunately (Why do I live at home??)–I turn to the exit, ready to read the Weekend Edition.

Only, the view of my car is blocked by the Aardvark Locksmith company’s van. So, no time to read the paper and truly enjoy the fantastic morning. Anyways, I arrived at the Hospital about two hours later than scheduled. Apparently, the super-volunteer, the student who takes only night classes and volunteers 40 hours a week, spits fire at ye who come late to scheduled shifts; fortunately, a kinder gentleman was manning the volunteer headquarters at the Hospital when I arrived.

Today was my last day having a partner on the surgery unit. This was a sad moment for me, seeing as my fellow volunteer was so cheery and taught me so much in a short time about how to reach out to people and truly get the most out of my volunteer experience. (Obviously I didn’t tell them this–lest I look like a freak.) These next months of volunteering are certainly going to be more quiet, but hopefully no less eventful.

The other volunteer and I wandered the ward, and finally settled in the pre-admissions clinic where we helped one of the staff prepare a resume for a job application within the Hospital. We were served an earful of office politics that revealed the negative aspects of the personality of one of the “higher-ups.” In those twenty minutes, I began to feel that my time spent as a business major is not entirely wasted. Even my adviser thinks that studying something so superficially unrelated to my career choice is bizarre, but after working at the Hospital as a volunteer, I can more easily see how the things we learn interlace into the workings of a health care system. (And defend myself–stick it to the man!)

I stayed for extra hours this Friday in order to make-up for my lateness and so that my long drive to the Hospital would be worthwhile. At the brink of starvation, I decided to go home. Most of the activity at the Hospital had slowed down by then. A flurry of patients were discharged before lunchtime, and as I wheeled the soon-to-be-former patients down to their awaiting cars, the staff filled the halls. A group of nurses in the elevator, holding packaged cafeteria lunches, plotted to inhale their food within ten minutes so they could get back on shift, commenting that there was no time to even clock out (or eat.) I certainly understand this sentiment, having worked many events where I had to spend time serving rather than eating, managing to nick a  biscuit or muffin in order to maintain stamina between shifts.

Even the atrium was alive with action; this center of the original hospital building resembles a shopping mall. We even have a bakery on this ground level floor (When would you ever need a wedding-style cake in the Hospital?–The epitome of ridiculousness in my opinion.) Patients’ family members stood in line for overpriced smoothies and snacks; walking past the cafeteria I could see nurses and doctors discussing animatedly over lunch.

I enjoyed this week’s efforts at the Hospital. I even had the opportunity to meet the owner of a service dog, who told me how their dog really helped them through their disability. Once in a wheelchair, they are now able to walk. Their dog is truly amazing; able to do laundry, call 9-1-1, follow commands, keep her owner  from falling over, turn on lights, pick up objects, and because of their strong relationship, notice slight downturns in their owner’s health, unseen to the eye. The service dog is a pretty normal dog at first glance, easily distracted by a doughnut, and happy to wander around and investigate everyone in the room, but obviously she is pretty incredible. The service dog was trained at a women’s prison, too! A service for everyone, she is indeed.

I spent the rest of the weekend inebriated in bars, completely destroying my (week-long?) streak of MCAT studying, and yoga contortions. I will not be volunteering this next week due to the impending (expensive…) mini-road trip. But, I will be back for week 11 in yet another week. As I used to say on the radio, “stay tuned!”