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Grandma-sitter

Worked at Black Sheets for a few hours, and then came home and put together the April issue of this fine zine, or tried to.

Since I needed to concentrate, of course some new neighbors were moving in upstairs, hauling all their possessions and furniture up the loud and rickety wooden steps on the other side of my bedroom wall.

When they finally stopped stomping around, they celebrated with non-stop full-blast Mexican rock'n'roll, dancing one layer of balsa wood above my head, with a perpetual bass backbeat to rattle my bones. Yeah, I'm going to like the new neighbors upstairs, yes indeed.

♦ ♦ ♦

Unexpectedly, I worked as a grandma-sitter tonight. This yuppie-guy out in the Sunset has his senile grandmother living with him and his wife, and usually, he says, when they have plans for the evening his brother comes over to tend to Grandmama. Tonight, though, his brother wasn't available, so he called the number on my flyer at about 3:00, desperate and apologetic, and asked if I could do it. Lucky for him, I checked my messages at 3:45 or so.

"Sure, I can do it," I called back and said. My grandmother had Alzheimer's, so I know how to patiently answer the same questions over and over again. I brought some zines and a book for leisurely reading, and got to their house by 5:00, as they were getting ready to leave and wondering whether I'd show up. "Relax, man," I said, smiling. "I said I'd be here, and here I am."

Grandmama had already eaten dinner, so he introduced us, and gave me a rushed rundown of my duties — make sure she doesn't wander off down the street or anything. Easy money. "She'll probably just sit in her chair and read her book," he promised.

And indeed, that's about all she did. I read zines, and every few minutes Grandmama looked up and asked, "Who are you?" I patiently introduced myself, and did it again a little later.

Like I said, I'd done this for my own grandmother before she croaked, but I'll also say, it's different doing it for someone else's grandmother. She was asking who I was every fifteen minutes or so, and eventually I became Cary Grant, Billy Carter, Florence Nightingale, or Bond, James Bond. No rudeness intended, but what I answered didn't matter.

She said once that she had to go to the bathroom, but she didn't get up. Her grandson had warned me that after she'd said it she'd sometimes forget, and pee her pants if you didn't get her to the john, so I got her to the john. She took care of her business without assistance, but I needed to remind her to eventually flush and come back to the living room.

After the potty visit, she sat in her chair again, opened her book, and fell straight asleep. Was I supposed to put her to bed like a toddler? Nah. There's a limit to what I'll do for $5 an hour.

She was still sleeping peacefully in the easy chair when Mr and Mrs Grandson came home at about 12:30, two hours later than he'd said. Instead of apologizing for being late, he semi-balked at paying me $37.50 for 7½ hours of mostly reading. 

"Hey, dude," I said, "It would be awfully easy to repossess your grandmother. All I'd have to do is say, 'I'm Sven, let's go for a walk'."

Well, of course I was only kidding, but he didn't see the humor in it, got all huffy and said he'd never hire me again. He paid what he owed me, though, so it's OK by me if he's pissed. Hire a stranger, from a notice tacked to a laundry's corkboard, as caretaker for a loved one, and then complain about the price when Grandmama's still alive eight hours later? Fuck off, sir.

From Pathetic Life #12
Monday, May 1, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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