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American History
First Day At The Clinic


      “You can sit here at this desk. Your job will be just to answer the telephone, nothing more.”  The grand motherly type woman told me.

       I looked around the small cozy office and noted that there were two windows. The rather wide desk stretched across in front of one window and it looked out over the lake.  Behind me was a tall file cabinet and beside the desk was a smaller table with an old-fashioned manual typewriter on it.

       She continued directing me in her normally sweet voice. The woman had a way of ducking her head and chin down as she spoke. The made her necessarily need to look up at the person to whom she was speaking. As she talked, her face was never pointed in your direction so it always made her have to look sidelong out of those sharp, age-knowing eyes. This mannerism could be a little unsettling if it was new to a person. When she was a younger woman, it probably gave her a whimsical air. Now it was just sort of an odd-behavior. Fortunately it was not new to me so I wasn't bothered. The seat for the typewriter was placed so the person sitting there could see,  from out the side of their eye,  on the right the actual treatment room and also straight ahead to where someone might enter on other business through the same wide doors where I had just arrived.

      “I don't need a secretary, I've never had one and I don't know why they want me to have one now?”  The woman complained. “But you can just sit here and answer the phone.”

      It was true I was young. However,  I had worked for two years in the principal's office as a student. This is what was called my detail. It was the job where a student was assigned to work,  part time. During my time at the college I had a small job in the judge's office. I didn't do much other than type things for him but, on the other hand, I was used to office routine. I knew there was more to be done here than just answering the phone.

      “Is there a job description?”  I asked.

      This question was met with a cold stare and silence.

       “If there isn't then who am I under with this office?  Is it Dr. Wall, the main office or am I under the health offices at Oklahoma City? I need to know who to contact for a job description.

       The head nurse pulled one of the file drawers open. There were only two folders in it. One was a fat folder crammed with papers. The other was a folder with apparently almost nothing in it. She jerked the smallest-of-the-two out, threw it on the desk, turned and left in a huff.

       I could see one of the nurses looking up from her work with a half smile while looking at me as I took the folder, spread the few pages out and begin to study it.

      That was the beginning of our private war. If nothing else it entertained the nurses, the dentist, and the doctors,  who came through and who were deathly afraid of the woman.  If this tells you anything. Usually doctors are the one's to be feared for their authority but not at the Chilocco Clinic. There I was, and  I didn't do anything on purpose.  It just seemed to happen like this first encounter.

      In the evenings when I visited with one of the teachers who lived in the next apartment she always laughed,  out-loud at my day's adventure. She was a serious minded woman who never laughed out like that. I always had fun telling her the stories about my work because her whole  face would light-up with a wide grin before she begin to chuckle. When she could get her breath,  she might ask me some questions about the event and then giggle all over again as I answered her.  She was a great friend to me and I enjoyed watching her do her lesson plans while we visited.  The telling of the stories must have been what kept me stable and level in comparison to the harried nurses who worked under so much stress. For some reason that was only tied up with youth, I actually enjoyed my work.


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