Night Shift Tales

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

   Ajay and Camille had not finished receiving hand off report from the day Clinical Leaders when Ajay’s beeper went off. They all engaged in a collective eye roll.

    “Yup”, said Ajay, returning the page. Camille told Janet and Marjie to leave. Generally by the time they had all finished report things had changed anyway. Stable units were crazy and crazy units were worse.

     “I’m working a double, I haven’t had a break and you’ve got a

     race riot here, my people and the Filipinos,” said Grace Henderson.

     “On my way”, sighed Ajay.

     “Mind if I take my break now ?”

     “After I settle this.”

    Camille glance at her, Ajay waved her off and hustled herself down to the surgical ICU. Grace was settled in with a cup of tea, absently massaging her left hip, watching the dispute.

      “Been here thirty seven years, I worry you won’t make it that long,

       country time,” offered Grace.

    The African American nurses called Ajay “country time”, just to remind her that she never lost the accent, everybody else called her Jay Jay, for reasons she didn’t understand.

     “Sometimes, I worry that I will,” returned Ajay,” Hey,

      has anybody noticed we have patients int his unit.”

    Stacy Harris and three of her colleagues were waving and cussing at Lisa Hernandez

and three Filipinos nurses who were also growling and stamping back. Ajay watched them for a few minutes, arms crossed, humming loudly.

    Stacy jabbed a finger at Lisa Hernandez,

     “They were all yapping before report

     in their damn language, maybe they forgot what country they are in

     so damn many of them in this hospital, but she did say mean Niger bitch in


     “Lisa, did you?”, asked Ajay.


     “Did somebody else?”


   “So Stacy heard imaginary invisible people say that”, Ajay paused, and turned to

   Stacy,” You are mean, when I was in staffing and I got pulled here, you were

   seriously unpleasant.”

   “Well, you survived and you didn’t call me a Niger bitch,” retorted Stacy.

    Ajay cocked her head at Lisa,” We don’t tolerate racism here, your Manager

    is getting an email and you owe Stacy an apology.”

    “They”, said, Trina Ramirez,” always give us the worst assignments.”

    “Change the assignments”, returned Ajay,” Just for tonight”

   ” Will I be disciplined,” asked Lisa, ” I was stressed out.”

   “Barbara makes that decision, not me, shrugged Ajay,” Go

    take care of your patients, Grace take your break.”

    The beeper blared again,the number was her old units,adult oncology.

    “Are you satisfied at least for now, Stacy,” she asked,” Maybe

     Y’all can work this out at a staff meeting.”

    “For now I got patients, I know you don’t play that game,

     country time,” said Stacy.

    “Keep calling me that and I’m gonna tell everybody where

     you’re from,” returned Ajay,” So we straight ?”

     “Till the next time.”

   Ajay walked down the hall a bit and stopped, Lisa and Stacy had an awkward conversation, their bodies shifting around. They parted abruptly and went to tend their patients.

   She rolled into oncology to find Dr.Gilger shouting at a young unfamiliar nurse, slapping at an open chart.

   “This is an oncology unit, we give chemo,” he sputtered.

   “The dose is wrong, pharmacy called me and I checked the on line formulary,”

    the nurse cleared her throat, her lips trembling,” I’m Jenny.”

    Ajay was astonished by the number of nurses in the hospital named Jenny. She thought the name needed to get placed on a baby name pause list.

   ” You can either write the orders correctly,Don, or Jenny isn’t

     giving the chemo, stop the drama,” ordered Ajay.

    Don Gilger made a pouty face, he knew he was wrong and hated being called on it by a new nurse. He and Ajay had numerous disagreements when she was a staff nurse on adult oncology, the nurses and some of the other doctors called him Dick Head Gilger behind his back

    “Clinic was crazy today”, he grumbled. That was his idea of an apology.

    Ajay pulled Jenny aside, squeezed her shoulder, and nodded at her,”Good job.”

    “Maybe I should transfer to pediatric oncology.”

    Ajay laughed,”Don’t bother.”

    Camille paged Ajay to tell her to stop at acute neuro and steal something from their potluck and then book it over to the ED because they were both needed to assist with some MVA victims. Camille was an ED nurse before taking the Clinical Lead position, she got rather distressed when there wasn’t any action. Ajay snatched a cookie and coffee and gave the middle finger to the number that popped up on her beeper.

    Jason, her on again, off again, janitor/painter boyfriend wanted to talk. She walked out on him in the middle of a nice dinner at her favorite Thai restaurant when he whined about the stale drift of their relationship. His solution was a three way with somebody he had already picked out. She balked, he called her “suburban” and she told him to fuck the pile of rice on the table.

    Whatever mess swirled around the ED was infinitely more appealing than some con job dialog with him. When she walked into the ED Camille smiled and waved like they were attending a party.

   As usual, neither of them got a lunch break that shift.



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  1. the last time I wrote any fiction was in 1994 when I had to take an English Lit class in nursing school.

    • Robyn on November 30, 2008 at 17:07

    …for a glimpse into your world.

    • RiaD on November 30, 2008 at 17:10

    doesn’t suck too bad (^.^)

    ver engaging story. i like how you just dumped me into it. at first i thought it was tales of your life…& i’m sure your experiences are in there to some extent….i didn’t realize(at first) that it was fiction.

    i like your people. i want to know more, read more, hear their tales.

    but could you explain your shortcut words: ED, MVA? i don’t know what they refer to. maybe it doesn’t matter?

  2. …it has profluence.  And a nice crisp feel.  I was sucked right in and waiting for the first plot twist.  

  3. it puts you right into the frantic strange world that you inhabit. Gives one a taste from the other side the workers who we often tend to think of as faceless, part of the institution’s system. Your writing uses dialog well and gives one a sense of the human drama at play. When most of us confront this world we are too absorbed in our needs to look at the human side of yours. I liked the cultural diversity of the women and the interaction between their personal lives and their relationships at work.  

    My niece is a nurse, her first job was at the city jail in the men’s section. She was very young and has many funny and tragic tales about this time. She took to chewing gum and talking tough so she would not get so much flack and manipulation from her patients. Her goal is to work at a woman’s clinic as a nurse practitioner. I personally trust nurses and nurse practitioners better then doctors. They seem to be more grounded and deal with the whole.              

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