By P. Berman, K. Hecht & A. Hosack
I have a job. I really have a job. It is not one of my dreams. It is real. I start today!
Claire is starting work today. Unlike her literally “dream job,” her real job is not in the same office as Shelly. However, it is in a beautiful building that also has a small coffee shop inside so that she can eat out to lunch sometimes on special occasions. She has practiced going there on the bus twice and knows where to stand for the bus, the schedule that it follows, and knows how she will spend the twenty minutes she will have between work being over, and the bus arriving; she is going to bring a book and read it in the pretty entrance way of her building.
Claire had gained self-confidence from this practice. It was strange, whether it was studying math in high school, practicing spelling dental terms at hygienist school, or learning to find her way around on the bus, practice always made her recognize when she did and did not understand something. She was trying to help Davy see the benefits to practice. Right now, he was getting easily frustrated by trying to learn to tie his shoe laces. She reminded him it was hard- and that was why he needed to practice. He had learned the first step yesterday, of making a cross with his laces, but he still got confused after that step. When she smiled and said, “don’t give up my Davy,” he had the urge to remove his shoes and throw them at her.
Claire noticed the red face and tight lips. “I can see that my smiling and telling you not to give up, has made you. It is okay to be mad at me but…” “It isn’t okay for me to throw my shoes at my mommy!” Davy interrupted with a laugh; Claire laughed with him.
Stop daydreaming Claire and get off the bus!
Claire woke up from her morning reverie in time to get off the bus on time before she missed her stop. As she stepped onto the curb, she began to feel nervous. But she was prepared. She walked carefully across the street, reminder herself that she was going to have her own cubicle and she had brought a picture of her family and one of Davy’s special pictures, to decorate her own space with it; for a start, it was exciting to think about what other things she might add as she got used to working full-time. My own space. That sounded good even inside her head. Claire walked into the front office of the dentist and introduced herself to the receptionist saying she was the new hygienist. The receptionist brought her inside the inner offices door and took her to Dr. Myers office.
Dr. Myer looked up at her as she walked in the door, “Welcome Claire, I am so glad you are starting today. We unfortunately have an emergency. My other hygienist, Martha, has called in sick. I was planning for you to shadow her today, but I guess it is trial by fire and you will be assisting me as well as having some of your own appointments today.” “I am sorry to hear that Martha is sick. I will help out anyway I can,” Claire said, smiling although her nervousness had now doubled.
Claire started out helping the Dr. Myers. This gave her the chance to review, where all the dental tools were kept and all the details that she wanted kept in the dental records. Unlike the male dentist Claire had worked with during her practice sessions, Dr. Myers spent quite a bit of time talking with her patient before starting the procedures.
Claire was in luck- her first appointment alone was with a very nervous older man who had always had some fears of dental procedures. Claire used the same patience with him, that she used with children. He was happily telling her stories as she led him out, after the procedure. As they were passing Dr. Myers he told her that Claire was a jewel; Claire blushed but she did notice that Dr. Myers smiled at her and at the patient.
At lunch time, Claire felt very alone. This office was smaller than her
“dream one” and there was no group of people having lunch together. She took her bag lunch out of the building and looked uncertainly around. Before she had a chance to feel any panic, like in high school, about eating alone, she noticed a small park on the other side of the office building. She sat down on a bench and slowly savored her sandwich, reviewing everything she had learned about Dr. Myers’ office so far. She hoped that someday she and Martha could eat together; she had gotten use to talking with the Carsons while enjoying a meal.
Claire noticed it was almost time for lunch to end. She threw her trash away and walked briskly back into the building. Claire is alone right now, but she isn’t feeling that terrible isolation alone she had for some many years before meeting Larry. She knew when she got home, Davy and the Carsons would want to hear all about her day.
Chronic and devastating loneliness is a problem that Claire used to have. Larry learned early on that the best way to make Claire do what he wanted, was to avoid her for a few days so she would return to that terrible lonely state. Loneliness affects many more people than you would expect because research in the United Kingdom indicates that more than 75% of general practitioners indicated seeing 1-5 patients a day whose only reason for being in their office was loneliness. In addition, there appears to be stigma to telling others about feeling lonely with 56% of British adults indicating that admitting loneliness to others was difficult. As a result of this data, the British now have the first Minister of Loneliness in the world. To read about it, go to: https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/01/britain-minister-of-loneliness-teresa-may/550757/
Do you think there might be policies at your workplace or where you live that increase the likelihood of loneliness? Consider taking information from the British newspaper article above, or some article like that published in the USA or other country that you find for yourself and write a one paragraph editorial for your local newspaper, encouraging friendliness towards others.
Tips for writing effective letters can be found at: https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/advocacy/direct-action/letters-to-editor/main