I met a man who had just moved onto my floor, I think three days ago. Yesterday, I opened my door and there were four cops hanging out drinking coffee beneath the hallway air-conditioner.
I asked the group what happened, and got no response. Oh, I said, not allowed to tell. So I shrugged my shoulders and walked on towards the elevator. Someone from management got out, and I asked him what happened and he told me that the guy who had just moved in was found dead at 6 a.m. Coronary.
I thought back to our brief conversation the day before. He was complaining about not being able to sleep the first night.
I told him I had the same experience. I usually sleep well but that first night I thought the place was spooky. I even went through the trouble of finding out whether someone had died in the room.
He laughed and said he also did some questioning. Also that he was usually up early and couldn’t get over the fact that someone was peering in through the door at him so early, or at all.
Same here, I said, but you get used to it.
After I learned that he died of a coronary, and was found at 6:05 am, the only thing that crossed my mind was: was he dead already, and they found him at that time? Or did he die when the door opened slowly and an eyeball was peering at him?
Either way, I wonder how long he waited to get into this place, and whether his condition had deteriorated in the meantime.
Life in the dining room continues as usual. It remains one of the most unpleasant places to eat that I’ve run into.
The temperature varies from 68F to 75F. And you usually get both during the same seating. They take forever to get your food, and then they rush you out because there’s a so-called 2nd seating.
Yesterday I had my favorite worst waitress – Vera. Vera complains about the heat, while the residents are wearing winter clothes. And the usual ordering goes like this:
Vera: What d’ya want?
Me: What d’ya got?
Vera: Chicken or meatballs.
Me: What kind of chicken?
Vera: Not sure. (Taking out a Japanese fan). Ooh, it’s hot.
Meanwhile, trays are going by and everyone is trying to look at them to see what any of this food looks like. I glance across to the table next to mine, where Spike has seen the food pass by. He’s deaf and his hearing aid is too expensive to fix. So I shout at him as loud as I can: what d’ya think?
He pantomimes what I think is a chicken flapping its wings.
Me: I’ll have the chicken? What comes with it?
Vera: Ok. One chicken.
My table mate says: chicken.
She picks up an empty plate and starts talking to no one in particular.
Vera: I don’t know why they make these plates so hot. Lord almighty. Ouch.
And she disappears into the world of heat.
When the food arrives, it’s some sort of chicken in a heavy sauce with Brussel sprouts and corn.
The thing that’s confusing is that sometimes, maybe once a week, the food is delicious. Unless someone takes a picture of it and posts it in the hall where we wait to get in, we have no idea.
The waitresses, are not real waitresses. They seem to make a trip to the kitchen for each request. There’s no salt, pepper, or ketchup on the table. So every day, you ask for salt. They walk to the middle of the room. Open a drawer. Take packets of salt and throw it on your table.
During one lunch, I ordered a tuna fish sandwich with mayo on the side. The mayo didn’t arrive with the sandwich. So I repeated: a side of mayo.
The waitress said, side of mayo.
I sat back for ten minutes waiting. Still no mayo.
The waitress walked by and said: I’m still waiting for the mayo.
I said: Do they need help opening the jar?
She just laughed.
Another ten minutes go by. I decide to start eating the sandwich. When there’s one tiny corner left, the waitress stops by and puts two small containers of mayo on the table. One for me. One for my table mate who had asked for mayo at the same time as me.
We just look at each other and shrug our shoulders.
As I’m leaving, I pass a big commotion. A very very old lady is red in the face and banging on the table. She’s shouting that she’s been waiting for 55 minutes for her food and she’s going to call the police.
The blue shirts are all around her, apologizing. Spike tells her that it won’t do any good to call the police. She should talk to Gregory. He’s in corporate.
I didn’t even stay to see how that wound up. Just another lunch. I’ve seen worse.