Ever day I chase jobs, the last time responding to a newspaper add that stated "small Christian nursing home wants nurse". I caught the train to middle-suburbia , trudged past many city blocks, each with its resident home for the aged, until I came to a pharoahnic edifice refurbished like the Ritz Carlton with plush foyer and beauty pageant receptionist. I had to fill out the employment application whilst waiting for the jovial Director of Nursing, who laughed heartily on the phone at my every question and thus promised a happy workplace.
I kept one eye on the oldies toddling out to waiting taxis with their walking frames, so fragile and baby-innocent in their wrinkled, skeletal benign souls, a breath of wind or a harsh word could blow them to kingdom come, and I had to ask myself, as ever, do I myself want to hang on into decrepitude, only to eat milksops and be at the mercy of a cruel, rapacious world that will earn money from my slow dying?
On my application form was the question "Religion?" Out of sheer libertarian perversity I was tempted to write "Satanist!" It all just seemed so godly clean and sanitised but I wanted the job desperately and so I wrote, mealy-mouthed, "Christian", for that is what I got baptised when a baby, without me having my twisted will involved. Actually, I was Christened a Lutheran as my cheapskate parents, in the tough early 1950's, found they could sneak me in to a Baptism at the local Lutheran Church where they were doing a deal, two for the price of one, and so they didn't have to pay for me.
I've been a cheapskate ever since with "if it's for free, it's for me" as my reigning philosophy. Actually, I'm not a Satanist, as in the sense of black magic, pentagrams, sacrifice and mumbo jumbo, those black-dressed types seem a bunch of superstitious fuck-wits to me, but I am a Luciferian, in the sense of Anatole France's "Revolt of the Angels", Lucifer, the Angel of Light ruling this earthly domain, rebelling against a cruel, vindictive, jealous, tyrannical Heavenly Father, Light and enlightenment being the chief motif in my heart's desire, not that I ever find it, but I'm always searching.
So the DON finally appears, only to tell me the job involves looking after 76 residents with a lock-down ward of fifteen dementia sufferers and next door a hostel with a further 70 residents to whom I'll have to occasionally run when they've had a fall or a flip-out. Lots of nappy changing 4 times a night plus peg-feeds (feeding tubes into stomachs) and BSLs, bood-sugar tests for the diabetics, as well as chasing the demented about, who on their own are a nerve-wracking handful. She laughed merrily all the while, telling me the place is owned by the church next door and is run on strict Christian values, but they don't mind a bit of slave labour from the nurses in the glorious name of profit.
When I said 76 plus was an awful lot to be responsible for, she assured me that nurses would soon be phased out of the aged care industry anyway, the lot handed over to assistants, so I'd be lucky if I got the job. I grimly smiled and said we should both think about it, but it's another back-breaker in the industry of dying that I would have to decline, and I toddled away to hide under my blankets at home, happy to sleep away the fear and horror. And to think I was willing to betray the Angel of Light for mere filthy lucre?? What a scandal!