Blast from the Past

Do you know how it was like to work at dental practice in the 70’s?

Once upon time there was a young nurse Jane. She was hard working and liked by the dentists. One day Jane moved to another town and applied for two dental nurse’s posts. She was offered a job from both of them but she chose a dental practice of four dentists. She was allocated to work with a 30 year old dentist Anna.
Anna was pleasant in behaviour towards Jane. Using kind words and voice when talking to her. Jane was very happy to have found such a good workplace.

But then – and not very long after Jane had started working there – became a day when everything changed. Jane had done something to upset Anna. It was something that Anna found completely incomprehensible.

“You are not a very good nurse, are you?! Not half as good as your predecessor! She at least cleaned my windows!” Anna said with a raised voice.

Jane wasn’t sure how to react. She was in shock about this sudden change in Anna’s behaviour. What windows did she possibly mean?

“I don’t understand what you mean?” Jane said cautiously.

“You… What… You… Don’t understand?!” Anna gasped.

“MY windows of course. My windows at home!” She added and stormed out of the room.

Jane was standing still for a while holding the instruments she was organising. She didn’t know she was supposed to clean dentist’s private windows as well. And probably on her own time as working hours she spent in the practice. That’s not what she signed for.

From this day onwards Anna treated Jane like garbage. Shouting and swearing at her even in front of the patients. Jane felt humiliated and insecure. Should she leave? She didn’t want to as nurse’s jobs were hard to find. So she stayed and the thing that made it easier to put up with Anna’s bullying was the practice’s other dentists’ support to her. They told Anna off many times but it made no difference whatsoever.

One morning Jane came to work and was walking practice’s long corridor to her surgery. Just when she was reaching to open the door Anna came out. She was sitting on her chair and rolling it forwards with her feet.

“Odd.” thought Jane, “What a peculiar thing to do…”

She watched Anna and her transporter chair rolling to the other end of the corridor where the toilet was. In she went and so did the chair without Anna getting up. Her long white saggy uniform got stuck between the door and it went up and down as Anna tried to pull it in without opening the door. Jane was amused and was wondering if Anna has completely lost it. Probably has.

The bullying – and the chair rolling – carried on for the next 4 months but Jane put up with it and did her job as well as she could. But she did not clean Anna’s windows. Nor her home. That’s where she drew the line. She was a dental nurse, not a servant!

Jane had been working for Anna for almost six months when Anna one day – at the end of the day – said to Jane

“Your employment will be discontinued in a fortnight.”

Jane was caught by surprise and wasn’t able to say anything sensible to Anna. But perhaps the question mark over her head was so obvious that Anna continued with a blunt voice

“I am pregnant and my due date is in a month.”

Now Jane was even more surprised but suddenly it all made sense. The saggy uniform, rolling with the chair, mood swings… It wasn’t because Anna was a loony. She was pregnant which now was obvious!

Jane felt angry and helpless. There was nothing she could do but to find a new job. Should she have known it was a temporary post she would have chosen the other job she was offered.

The working relationship between these two ladies came to an end. Whenever Jane saw Anna in town with her baby and husband she never greeted Jane or made any gesture she knew her.

Today is the day of the retirement for Jane but she remembers Anna and her bullying like it was yesterday. Even 40 years was not enough to forget or forgive and she secretly feels satisfaction over the fact that Anna is in a care home suffering from the Alzheimer’s.

“Karma” She thought when she closed the door of her work place for the last time.

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