Lost at 52

I am a 52 year old, unemployed loser.  I just realized that today.  I have been applying for jobs that will never pay more than 15 bucks an hour.  I’m 52.  I should be making twice that amount.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m smart.  And I’m hirable. I’ve had several jobs since August, including being a rural route driver for the Post Office, which is a tough job to get.  I lasted 3 days.  Driving on the right had side of the road down a busy highway proved to be too much for me. It’s impossible to drive safely while you sit in the passenger seat with your left leg spread across the seat to work the gas and break.  I can’t believe the Post Office expects that of its’ employees. I pictured myself dying in a horrible accident with blood stained mail spread out across the highway.  It’s a terrible job with time pressure and the promise that you will tear up your own vehicle during the process.  My second day on the job I had a blow out.  My first day in training I puked my guts out while I rode in the backseat of a postman’s personal truck.  He drove like a bat out of hell, sitting on the right passenger seat with mail piled to the roof in the driver’s seat.  He didn’t stop to let me vomit.  He cared more about getting the mail delivered on time than he did about the woman who was projectile vomiting in his truck. It just wasn’t worth it to  me.  I walked away and never looked back.

I’ve also worked at the front desk of a hotel, driven a limo, been a file clerk and a receptionist at a doctor’s office.  All of which I quit due to one frustration or another.  I don’t know what is wrong with me.  I can’t seem to find a good fit.  I loved driving a limo, but my boss was too intense.  He expected me to be on call 24 hours a day, ready to go, even though he wasn’t paying me to be on call.  I couldn’t plan anything with my family or friends.  If I did, he would yell at me and give me a guilt trip.  Plus I was only averaging about $250.00 a week, which isn’t enough to support me and my son.

I’ve gone through all of this because I quit a job in August.   It was a good, noble job.  I was a Unit Clerk in the NICU at an inner city hospital.  I loved everything about my job.  I was good at it.  I treated the parents of the newborns like family.  Whenever a baby is in the NICU, you get to know the parents and family members well.  You see them all day and night.  The good ones, anyway.  Some parents never bother to visit the baby, but most of them are very involved with their baby’s care.  A few of our sicker babies could stay in the hospital upwards to a year.  We grew to love and care about the babies and their parents.

I never should have quit my job.  There were so many reasons involved in my leaving.  My charge nurse was a full on sociopath.  She was mean and vindictive, but smiled and laughed the whole time she was stabbing you in the back.  She made my life miserable.  Not just my life, but the nurses’ lives too.  The only time she was genuinely kind to someone was if a parent lost a child.  She had a clique of nurses who were on a wild streak.  They were cheating on their husbands and bragging about it at work.  It was annoying.  I was a captive audience because I couldn’t leave my desk.  They gossiped and mocked the other nurses.   I grew to despise them.  I tried to tune them out, but there was no use.

The main reason why I left my job was because there was a baby there that was haunting me.  Well, I should say a baby and his mother were haunting me.  This poor baby had no chance at any kind of normal life.  It was born with hydranecephaly, which means it had no brain but it had a brain stem so it could feel pain.  His little brain was filled with water and it grew 6 centimeters a day.  He was in horrible pain.  No matter how many pain meds they gave him, he would squirm in pain.

His lovely mother was a drug addict.  He was her 8th baby.  The first 7 are in foster care due to her drug use.   The day her baby was delivered she was told that he had no brain.  He did have a brain stem, so he could feel pain.  She was also told that the humane thing to do would be to deny all nourishment to the baby so that he could die peacefully.  She agreed.  The doctors and nurses started the process of letting the baby go.

In the meantime, the mom was sitting in the waiting room.  Several other moms were sitting in the waiting room chatting.  Evidently they started talking about all of the services that are provided to NICU moms in need.  One of the perks is that if you sign in everyday you can get travel funds from a certain charity in town.  This money is supposed to be used for gas to travel back and forth to the hospital.  Forty dollars a day.  Free money.  For drugs.  By some miracle this mother changed her mind and wanted the hospital to take full measures to save her baby’s life.  This woman decided that it was more beneficial to her to let her baby live and suffer in horrible pain than it was to let her baby die peacefully.  She signed in everyday, walked to the back, glanced at the baby, left and headed straight to the charity to get her money.  According to the nurses, she never touched the baby, talked to the baby or held the baby.  The receptionist at the charity would call me everyday when the mother arrived there to verify that she had been in to visit.  I had to say that she had signed in.  I couldn’t volunteer the information that she didn’t stay longer than three minutes.  It drove me crazy.  I started having nightmares and anxiety attacks.  I couldn’t stand the thought of this poor baby laying in that bed, suffering.  I cried on the way to work and I cried on the drive home.  I was miserable.

At the end of my shift everyday, I would go visit the baby.  He would be squirming and wincing in pain.  I rubbed his feet.  The second I touched his tiny little feet he calmed down.  All he needed was to be touched and loved.  His head grew so large that it touched the sides of his crib.  He should have been let go the first week of his life.  We were in to the third month of his pathetic life.  Three months of suffering for a sweet innocent baby.  I told one of the neonatologist that I thought it was ethically wrong for them to keep him alive.  He agreed.  On the day that I quit the baby was still alive.  Three months later my daughter had a baby.  I ran into one of the doctors and asked him about the baby.  He said that the baby was still alive, but was in hospice care.  I’m sure the mom is continuing to collect her 40 bucks a day.  It breaks my heart to think about what that poor baby is going through.  I hope and pray he passes soon.  And I hope there’s a special place in hell for women like his mom.

Now I sit, endlessly applying for jobs.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever find a good fit again.  The longer it takes me to find a job the more suspicious interviewers are.  I haven’t put the latest jobs that I’ve had on my resume.  That would make me look worse than I already do.  I’m getting to the point that I feel useless.  I’m only 52.  I have so much more to offer to this world, but at this point I feel hopeless.

I should have gone to school.  I should have believed in myself.  Now I just exist.  I can’t imagine living to be old and struggling financially for the rest of my life.  I apply for jobs that I have absolutely no interest in.  I need something that will pay my bills and that isn’t too mind numbing.  I’m not sure if that job exists. Here’s hoping one does and that I find it soon.


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