Chapter Sixteen: Clara Gets a Job

That night after the dishes were cleared away and Grandpa Gordon was watching TV in the living room, Clara was sitting at the kitchen table pouring over the classifieds. After looking through the ads, two hospitals appeared to be likely prospects. The first one was the Clark County General Hospital, and the second one was a two story, square-shaped Adobe-style building simply called Las Vegas Hospital. They both had openings for registered nurses. There was also a third hospital in the valley which was a Catholic hospital, St. Rose. Di Lima. However, there currently were no openings but that could change at a moments notice, so she would keep an eye on it. 

After she wrapped up her papers and notes, she went and cuddled with Grandpa Gordon. She started kissing his neck and the next thing you knew, he was carrying her into the bedroom. After a delightful interlude, they fell asleep in each other’s arms. They woke up refreshed the next morning and to save time they showered together. Come on, man?! After a quick breakfast, Clara drove Grandpa Gordon to the air base.

She then left to drop off her two resumes. The first hospital she came to was the Las Vegas Hospital. The receptionist asked her if she could wait a few minutes because the Director of Nursing was in a meeting. Once he finished, he would be available to interview her. She said, “Of course.” So she sat down in the lobby. The wait was short, no more than ten minutes.

A slender gray-haired gentleman approximately 5’10” came out of a side office with a smile on his face and introduced himself as Thomas Kincaid, the Director of Nursing. He warmly shook her hand and said that it was nice to meet her. His demeanor quickly put Clara at ease. He asked her if she wouldn’t mind doing the interview in the cafeteria? He said, “It is quite empty at this time of day, and I am desperately in need of a cup of coffee.”  She said,  “That would be just fine with me.”

Mr Kincaid poured himself a cup of coffee and asked Clara if she would like one?  She said, “Yes, I would love one.” After pouring her a cup and handing it to her, he motioned for her to sit down. When she had done so, he sat down across from her at one of the round tables in the empty cafeteria. She noticed that he had her resume in his hand as he made himself comfortable.

He started by saying that his hospital was small and as a result he did not need specialty nurses. He needed a nurse who could do everything. He added, “That is why I am interested in new graduates.  New nurses are fresh and usually still remember all of their training and are willing to learn. And since they are new, they haven’t picked up any bad habits yet. As a nurse at our facility, you will be working in the OR, ER, and on the floor. Basically anywhere in the hospital where nursing services are required, so you would be doing a little bit of everything.  As a result, I need someone who can learn quickly.  That is one of the reasons I like younger nurses. They tend to be able to pick up things quicker than older nurses who are close to retiring… Now, does any of this interest you?”

Clara quickly nodded and said, “Yes sir, I am very interested.”

Kincaid said, “Good, I can guarantee one thing if ever you do eventually move on. You will be a very well-rounded nurse with a great deal of knowledge and experience under your belt. I have to toot my horn a little bit and say that having this hospital on your resume will open a lot of doors for you. Every one of my nurses that have relocated have been snatched up very quickly.”

Kincaid further added, “Before I make my final decision on whether to hire you or not, I would like to know a little about you and why you want to be a nurse. You may be wondering about how I am doing this interview? For one, I can read people like a book, and I am very seldom wrong in my analysis….So now it is your turn to either prove me right or wrong.”

Clara sat there for a minute while a million thoughts went racing through her mind. Finally, she calmed down some and took a slow, deep breath, and smiled, “Mr. Kincaid, I will give you a little background about myself first, and then I will answer all your questions. I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My parents are both college professors. Well, at least, my father still is. My mother opted out to raise a family.  My parents always fostered an inquisitive mindset in their children. As a result, we always wanted to know how things worked. My interests in particular are with the wonders of the human body. Things that would typically make people get sick to their stomach intrigued me such as disease processes and other maladies.”

Clara continued, “My parents also insisted that we do community service to help out the less fortunate. So caring for people has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I would have loved to become a doctor but nursing seemed to be a better fit for me since it allowed me to spend more time with my patients. During my time as a candry striper in the VA Hospital in Minneapolis, the doctor to patient interactions I witnessed were perfunctory at best and I wanted more than that. Sick people need more comforting than doctors have time to give. So I hope I have answered your questions satisfactorily.”

Mr. Kincaid announced, “Well done, congratulations, you just got hired! Now, let’s talk about your salary. First of all, I don’t like to waste my time doing things over and over again and constantly replacing my staff is a waste of my time and money. So I believe in employee retention and one way to do that is to pay top dollar. You may be aware of what the average monthly salary for nurses is or you may not. It dosen’t matter, I will tell you, it is $140.00 a month. I believe that is abysmal.  An uneducated laborer can make more than that. So I pay more than most hospitals or doctors’ pay from the start. By doing so in the long run, I save money. My turnover rate is the lowest in Nevada, and in actuality, it is lower than just about anywhere out west. So I will start you out at $200.00 a month. You’ll be elligible for yearly raises based on work performance. I don’t believe on giving raises just because you have put the time in. You will also have a health and life insurance policy and a retirement package. Oh, by the way, we also have paid maternity leave. I noticed on your resume that you just got married, so I thought that might interest you. See, I told you nobody wants to leave here…Do you find that satisfactory?”

(Ok, does her new boss seem too good to be true, well, of course he is, but wouldn’t it be great if all bosses and companies were like this? Besides Clara deserves some good fortune in her life because she will eventually experience some major heartache.)

Clara stammered, “Yessss!”

Mr. Kincaid queried, “Great, do you have time to fill out some paperwork? I have a lot of forms for you to sign and fill out. We also will need to take a photo of you for your badge. Not many places do that yet, but we believe in staying ahead of the curve. You may also be wondering about your training. Not to worry, we will make sure you feel comfortable and competent in everything you do here. To start off, you will also get one month of orientation and training. Of course, you will be paid all the while. There will be additional training along the way as it becomes necessary. One thing about the medical profession is that there are always new advancements being made. It is time for me to go to my next meeting, so I will leave you in the capable hands of my charge nurse and your direct supervisor, Grace Mathews. Since we only hire new people infrequently, it does not make sense for us to have a full-time person to take care of the paperwork, so nurse Mathews doubles as our new hire coordinator. See, I told you, everybody wears several hats here. That is our secret to being efficient and profitable. You get paid well, but you are expected to be productive. There is always something to do. I wish you well, I am sure you will be a valuable addition to our hospital,” he said as he walked down the hallway whistling to himself.

Clara spent the next hour signing and filling out forms. Nurse Mathews discussed with Clara what her training schedule would be like for the next month. The Charge Nurse continued explaining, “The first week will be flexible since you will be just studying and taking various tests at your own pace. The rest of the time, you will be shadowing our senior nurse, so you will work Monday through Friday from 0700 to 1600 with an hour lunch.”

As the Charge Nurse droned on, Clara thought to herself that her schedule was in direct conflict with Grandpa Gordon’s schedule. This meant that she was going to have to take the public transit system. However, it was only for a month after that they could figure out something.

By noon Clara was finished for the day. Nurse Mathews asked if she wanted to start her training tomorrow, or would she prefer to start next week. She asked if she could start next week since this had happened all so quickly, it had caught her off guard. She would like to at least discuss it with her husband before she actually started working. She further added. ” I am sure there will be no problem since he supports my nursing career.”

Nurse Mathews happy to oblige, “OK, I will see you next Monday. Please, let us know if there are any problems.”

Clara thanked her profusely and walked out the front door. She could hardly wait to tell her Grandpa Gordon the good news. Seeing that she had such a productive morning she decided to go home and hop into the pool.

After she lounged around the pool a little bit, she put on her bathing robe and went in and made a light lunch so as to not to ruin her appetite for their dinner out. At least that is what she was hoping her Grandpa Gordon would feel like doing after he heard about her new job.

After she finished making her sandwich and pouring herself a glass of lemonade, she brought them back out to enjoy by the pool. Before she knew, it was time to pick up Grandpa Gordon. The anticipation was just killing her.

When Clara arrived at the base, Grandpa Gordon was just exiting the building.  He immediately smiled and waved to her. When he reached the car, he went over and kissed her on the cheek and then hopped into the passenger seat.

It was only after he saw the big smile on her face and how nice she looked that he realized something special had happened today. Grandpa Gordon then said, “How was your day, sweetheart?”

Clara glanced over at Grandpa Gordon and announced, ” I have some wonderful news, and I feel like celebrating. So I am going to take you home so we can celebrate in earnest and then we are going out on the town.”

Grandpa Gordon looked over at Clara, “You are going to keep me in suspense, aren’t you?”

Clara smiled and said, “Yep.”

The rest of the drive home went uneventfully. When they finally pulled up to the house, she quickly got out of the car and ran over to his side and waited expectantly for him. Of course, he took his time doing so just to tease her a little. When he finally got out of the car, she squealed and jumped into his arms and started kissing him. He finally managed to stagger to the door and unlock it while being deluged by rapid fire kissing.

With a great deal of difficulty, he made it to the bedroom where they quickly stripped and made passionate love. Finally, after they were both exhausted, Grandpa Gordon rolled over and asked, “Are you finally going to tell me the good news?”

Clara nodded and blurted, “I got a job!” She continued on, “I will be making $200.00 a month. I can’t believe how fortunate I was to get this job. It’s a dream come true. My new boss is just great. I even have maternity leave, insurance, and retirement.”

Grandpa Gordon nodded excitedly, “That is wonderful, sweetheart. I can’t believe you got such a good job so quickly. I definitely know why you want to go out and celebrate. Let’s get dressed up and go out. We can’t stay out terribly late since I still have to go to work in the morning.” So they hopped in the shower where they made love again then they got ready to go.

The great thing about Las Vegas is that there are so many dinner shows to choose from. Since Nat King Cole, one of Clara’s favorites was highlighting at The Copa Room at the Sands Hotel and Casino, they decided to go their for dinner and a show. Every time she heard him on the radio, her knees would get weak. So, this night should truly prove to be memorable one for the couple.

True to form, Nat King Cole killed it. He was simply amazing and the meal was not too bad either. Grandpa Gordon and Clara had a great time and as a final clincher, Joey Bishop, the opener was also quite funny. Unfortunately, the night was over too soon, and they had to return back to reality and head home.

The week was soon over and Carla found herself starting her new job bright and early on Monday. The first week was quite tedious as she spent most of it reading and taking tests. Thankfully, there were a few short training films to watch, which helped to breakup the routine . The first week finally ended, and she frankly couldn’t wait till she got to take care of patients the following week.

As Clara hoped, the second week proved to be more fun. She also practiced many of her nursing skills such as inserting intravenous sites, nasogastric tubes, and Foley catheters. Since the hospital was small, the nurses did all of the lab blood draws. So she was quite busy helping out with these tasks. On the last day, she got to scrub and assist in an operation. Well, to be honest, she only got to observe, but it was still fun.

In the third week, her time were spent mostly in the emergency room. Clara continued to polish her skills, and now she actually triaged a few patients in the ER. It reminded her of her days as a candy striper when she would watch charge nurse Annabelle do just that in the ER in the VA Hospital back in Minneapolis. She thought to herself, she had come a long ways.

The fourth week was spent on a medical surgical unit where she mainly took care of patients. Soon, this week was over, too. Oh boy, next week she would be on her own. Her charge nurse reassured her, “Just because you are no longer in orientation, it doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions.”

Before long, Clara started to fit in her new job. It was like she had worked there for years just as her boss, Mr. Kincaid had forseen. She never seemed to get bored because every day brought something new. With every new experience came more knowledge. She especially liked assisting in the surgeries even though all she did was to hand surgical instruments to the surgeons.

Since Clara always looked pretty young, she decided to let her hair grow out some in the hopes that it would make her look a little more mature. Patients were always a little nervous when their nurse looked like one of their young daughters. Her build had always been a little slender but that would all change when she gave birth to a couple of children. Just a couple, not like the five or six that Grandpa Gordon wanted. She loved him dearly, but that was just too many children, jeez!