Rhian snapped off her surgical gloves and dropped them into Mrs Watkins’ overflowing kitchen bin.
“That’s your dressings changed, Mrs Watkins,” she said to the mass of flesh slumped on the sofa. “I’ll be back same time tomorrow.”
“Can’t you come a bit later? If you come at half past seven you’ll be interrupting EastEnders again,” grumbled the woman as she reached for her cigarettes.
“Sorry, the office works out the times of my visits and I have to stick to the schedule. Perhaps you can tape EastEnders?” suggested Rhian, helping Mrs Watkins back into her clothes. She would have liked to suggest that Mrs Watkins make more regular acquaintance with soap, water and a flannel, but the training of a Home Care Worker included understanding that they could not force their clients to wash. Rhian had been advised to put some Vick on her top lip to help disguise unpleasant smells.
“I dunno how to work the video,” said Mrs Watkins sullenly.
“Shall I do it for you?” said Rhian evenly, though her patience was beginning to wear thin.
“Oh, okay,” said Mrs Watkins through a cloud of smoke. No word of thanks.
Rhian found a tape. It took her a good ten minutes to figure out how to set the unfamiliar video recorder. Ten minutes which she should have been using to get to her next client. She had four more to call on, hadn’t had anything to eat since morning (not that she felt like eating), and would be lucky if she was home much before midnight.
She let herself out of the house, taking a moment to breathe the still, cold night air. Air that was fragrant due to the absence of cigarettes, urine, body odour or worse. This year, please God, would be different. Back last July she’d finished her course in beauty therapy, but so far had been unable to find a job.
Ah, beauty therapy. Cleanliness and calm. Fragrant massage oils. Dealing with a better class of customer altogether. There was, however, a small niggle of uncertainty in Rhian’s mind. The instructor had warned them that women with plenty of money to spend on beauty treatments often had very high expectations. Demanding clients had to be handled with tact and patience, with the therapist explaining beforehand that a face pack could not be expected to lift wrinkled, sagging skin that even surgical procedures would struggle to rectify.
Rhian hoped she hadn’t made a mistake. She’d had to work and save very hard to afford the two thousand pounds she’d spent on her course. She was starting the new year full of hope for a better future, and could only hope that it wouldn’t be a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire. Perhaps she should have trained for a job that didn’t involve so much contact with the general public. Only trouble was, most of the remote lighthouses seemed to have gone over to automatic
By Karenne Griffin
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015