At the start of my shift I head over to the Hygiene office to relieve the morning person. In Hygiene we supervise the showers, and laundry, and hand out razors, toothbrushes and combs when we have them, which we never do. On the chair is a pile of clothes and the girl says, “There is a man in shower number six who has crutches and he will need help getting dressed.”
No problem, I say. She leaves and I put my ear to the shower door to see how he’s doing and I can hear him vomiting.
“How are you doing in there?”
“Oh God, I vomited all over myself.”
“Do you want me to come in?”
“Um … yeah … I guess so.”
I unlock the door and the poor guy has those crutches that wrap around your forearms because his legs are permanently disabled. He is naked and shivering. His eyes are red. There are flecks of vomit across him and he’s standing amongst lumpy red vomit across the floor.
“It was coming out my nose and everything. I’m allergic to tomatoes.”
I tell him to rinse off and we’ll move him to the next shower stall for him to dress in. After he rinses off I open the door again and have a towel ready to wrap him in.
“This isn’t going to work,” he says. “I can’t walk on my crutches and keep the towel on at the same time. It will fall off.”
I laugh because I have no idea what to do.
“It’s not funny!” he snaps.
“You’re right. It’s not. I’m sorry.”
He grips the towel in one hand along with his crutch and hobbles over to the next stall. The towel indeed slips down a little way. Then he says he needs a chair to sit on. I run and grab him a chair, but he’s already halfway in the shower stall, he’s shaking, and seems eager to sit down. It’s too difficult to move him out the doorway again in order to get the chair in, so I just set it down in the doorway. He sits down in the chair and he’s going to have to change halfway in, half out of the shower stall. His backside is exposed to the laundry area for everyone to see and I do my best to act like a screen to block him.
I hand him clothes as he takes his frustrations out on me. It’s tricky clasping his suspenders onto his jeans as fast as I can while he’s standing. At one point I even accidentally pinch some of the hairs on his ass with the suspender clip. He’s shaking because he’s exhausted from standing so long, but we get him dressed one way or another and he heads out to the dining area. The whole time he alternates between insulting me and apologizing.
I’m staying serious. I’m not laughing at you. I was just thinking about something funny Camus wrote.