I have been working on another story in praise of this hospital and its staff, when this came up tonight. I thought it was worth holding the other story over for. This took place today. Friday, 26 July, 2013. It won't be news to Tracey. It happened all the time at home.
|This is exactly how my green|
jelly didn't look! Source
I am suddenly awake – one of those sickening starts as if your bed was on fire."
"I've brought your tea."
Tea? I don't get it.
"What time is it?"
"Half past five. I'll put the tray over here till you get up."
What? Tea at 5.30 AM? What's going on? Why is a cup of tea coming now?
"I'll serve the others and come back when you're in your chair."
I'm still totally disorientated.
"Busy night, was it?" I ask on her way out.
"It's pretty busy."
Somewhere in the deep dark recesses of my brain it registers that she used the present tense. OK.
My heart is still thumping. Lucky they don't come in to do obs right now. It would about 600/something.
I'm still too groggy to work out what's going on.
I get up, and carefully manage the couple of steps to the chair, sit down and have a drink of water, and a think.
Yep, by the analogue clock, it's tweny-five to six.
Then the penny drops.
I have been in one of my dead-to-the-world afternoon sleeps. It's 5.35 PM, dopey. You've been sleeping 90 minutes. Less actually, but that another story.
I wouldn't mind peeing, but she's here now. In the light I see it's not the nurse, but is indeed the Tea Lady. She's wonderful. Definitely a legend in my lunchtime.
My long association with large organisations tells me that in a new one you observe as quickly as you can who are the true power brokers. In the university they are your Administrative Officers. In the old days they were called Secretaries, usually women, who were paid far less than they should have been, stopped the place falling apart and untangled the messes academic staff made. They aren't called that any more but they still do the same thing, namely, the real work.
Fortunately, I always got on well with them. I'm looking at you, Trish and Gina. Loved you then and still do. If I didn't, I could safely say I don't. But I do.
You do not cross these women. Do so as an Academic and you'll regret it.
That's all I'll say on the matter except that they can find a thousand ways to mess with you. In particular the mess you got yourself into. But if they love you, impossible becomes sorted like magic. A quiet phone call to another AO somewhere deep in the bowels of the Admin Building, and low-and-be-old, the problem ceases to exist.
From a whole week's observations here I am getting the message that the Women of Power are the Tea Ladies.
Look, we're not going to get into a spat about non-gendered terminology, are we?
Denise is a Lady with a capital L, and if she minds me calling her distinguished, obliging, and charming, she'll tell me. Right?
It's the Tea Ladies who seem to bring everybody to the same comfortable level – staff of all sorts, patients. Bless them. This is true democracy in action. Look and learn, politicians.
Anyway, on the subject of tea – as a meal description I mean. Growing up in the bush, there was breakfast, dinner and tea. When I moved into city circles, it was breakfast, lunch and dinner. I gather some of the upper classes in England have their own variation. Don't ask me. When I'm made a Lord of the Realm I'll know instantly.
So you can see where my confusion arose. I interpreted "tea" as some weird new hospital rite all were bound to participate in at 5.30 AM.
I'm rather glad it was 5.30 PM, not AM. Can you imagine being face-to-face with a dazzling green jelly at five-thirty in the morning?