Friday, August 22, 2014

What would Tina do?

Today was my first time closing the church.  My coworker that usually does it, Tina, was not able to close today so I was asked to cover her shift.

2:20 PM - 

A guest came up to me and two other volunteers.  He asked if he could play on the piano during closing time; sort of like a wake up call for our guests.  I told him he could because I had just gotten permission to do the same thing yesterday.

2:40 PM (Closing Time) - 

Before I could start walking around to wake up our guests I hear screaming coming from the back of the church where our bathrooms are located.  As I walked towards the back the music began playing.  Turns out this guest is really good at playing the piano; he started by playing Beethoven.  God knew that these next 20 minutes in the church were going to be chaotic so he gave us the perfect music to accompany us.  The screaming was coming from the ladies bathroom.  One of our guest's was not happy at the person using the stall in there.  She was complaining that she was taking to long and that she had to get out.  She was screaming at both the person in the stall and myself.  I knew she wasn't listening when I told her to settle down so I turned my attention to the guest in the stall.  I politely asked her to finish up and let her know that there were other people trying to use the bathroom.  While I was addressing her the other lady ran off into the boys bathroom.  Before I knew what happened she was already using the only stall in there.  I walked to the other bathroom and immediately started getting yelled at by one of our male guests.  He was yelling in my ear (it's a pretty tight space) to make all the other guys in the bathroom leave.  He was outraged that the guys who were already in the bathroom didn't get out when the lady went in.  I looked inside and the guys were all taking care of their business.  One guy was using a urinal and two others were washing their hands.  The lady was the one breaking the rules, but I couldn't get her to leave because she was already locked in the stall.  I wasn't going to tell the guy to stop peeing so I let him finish; and the two others guys walked out on their own when they were done washing their hands.  I was blocking the doorway not letting any more people go in until the lady came out.  I was called all sorts of names by the gentleman waiting in line to use the bathroom; he was convinced I was a peeping tom.

As this was all happening I had all sorts of people talking to me.  The guy yelling at me, our regular guests reminding me of the rules, guest volunteers asking for things, and another coworker asking me to unlock things for him.  I took a second and thought to myself "Jose, take control of this".  I turned around and asked both the lady and the gentleman to stop yelling.  I told them the situation was over and to get on with leaving.

2:45 PM - 

I walked back in to the church to more chaos.  A handful of our guests were yelling at the piano player; giving him some pretty outrageous threats if he didn't stop.  I assured them that I gave him permission to play and that it was just a simple wake up call; they didn't care.  I finally was on my way to start walking around and wake the rest of our guests up and I was held up at the first pew I walked to.  There was a guest crying in the pew.  I asked him if he was okay and he responded that he wasn't.  He told me he needed an ambulance, that he couldn't stand the pain anymore.  I asked him if he was okay  and that if he was sure he needed an ambulance.  He was so I called 911.  After getting off the phone I let the guest know that the ambulance was on its way.  Finally I was able to walk around and wake those up who hadn't woken up yet.

2:50 PM -

After helping some guests I did another round of waking people up.  The man in pain kept screaming that he needed help and I kept reassuring him that the medics where on their way.  Three more laps of walking around the church asking our guests to wake up there was one man who still wouldn't get up.  I asked him if he was okay, if he needed help getting up.  He finally opened his eyes and began cursing me out.  He said if I told him to get up one more time he was going to lose it, he said he heard me the first time.  I was extremely intimidated but knew if I backed down I would have lost control of the situation.  I told him if he didn't want me to ask him again than he need to get up and go.  I handed him his bike, told him to have a good rest of the day, and he went left without saying another word.

2:55 PM -

The ambulance still hadn't arrived.  At this point I was talking to the guest telling him it would only be a matter of time before the medics arrived.  Every second that passed I felt more and more horrible.  All I could think was that the medics knew the call was for a man who is homeless so they were taking their time.  I started growing impatient and frustrated.  Sitting next to a man who is crying in pain and asking for help, and not being able to do a single thing is horrifying.  The medics finally arrived, with no sirens or warning, and took our guest away.

3:00 PM -

Last three people in the church.  Two of them a couple and and the other a heavily intoxicated man.  I guess the intoxicated guest accidentally sat on the lady's sweater and the three of them went at it.  I walked over and stood in between the two parties.  I told them to stop fighting and to move it along.  After a couple more minutes of yelling at each other, the lady, very randomly, decided to give the intoxicated man a pair of shoes.  He said "thank you sweetie" and they went on their way.    

3:30 PM - 

Finally we are all closed and I am sitting on the bus on my way home.  I was reflecting on the last hour going over everything that just happened in my head.  I had a hard time figuring out what I was feeling while closing up.  I didn't get anxious, I didn't stress out, I wasn't angry.  What helped me stay calm during all that was thinking of the time.  I told myself not to be in a rush.  Technically we are supposed to be all done with closing the church at 3:15 pm, but stuff happens.  I didn't have anywhere to be so I just told myself that I would figure things out as they happened and that I would be finished with everything when I was supposed to be.  Tina will be gone all next week, so we'll see what's in store for me while she's away; all I got to do is ask myself, what would Tina do?


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