Tale Tues: Texting Home Care Aides

So my mother has a new aide. And I will use Tues Tale to vent. About  aides.

Actually not about aides per se, as I have vented in the past about aides who sit in front of fans and “don’t do” watering of deck flowers, but will take down my mother’s antique glass bottle collection that hasn’t been moved from her windowsills in thirty years because there’s a thunderstorm coming…(?????)

I will vent about an aide agency.

About the “vice president” of said agency whose presence we were graced with when he came with potential employee aide to meet me and my mother – his hair gelled just enough to not look quite natural, in starched striped blue-and-white shirt unbuttoned just…enough. Yes, I could see him surfing in Miami on spring break:


…as I wondered if this were his first real job out of college.

And he was chewing gum. I have a thing about people on the job, even car salesmen, chewing gum.

In start contrast, this aide was genuine and therefore quite likable – with grown kids, which meant she knew something about taking real responsibility for other human lives. And in colorful  flowered pants, the kind of cheerful look my mother craves, but also in practical shoes.

She was hired! We signed paperwork, starched man chewed gum.

I live a good hour and 20 minutes from my mother. So with past aides, I got used to texting. A lot.

I asked for said aide’s phone number.

She didn’t have a chance to answer.

“Oh, you can have my cell,” said starched vice president. “Call me any time and I’ll pass on anything you need.”

Said aide works for starched man so she said nothing. Swung her leg a bit…gazed out window as if at birds.

And I looked hungrily at what I knew was an iPhone in its pretty pink p0lka-dotted case, right there in her lap.  Because we both have iPhones, our texting would be for free!

But that was that, and Mr. Starched Vice President moved onto other things, like hours, meals, Visa card numbers, etc.

I didn’t know I’d be craving said aide’s number like my favorite rich dessert, chocolate mousse, until this morning – said aide’s first morning working for my mother.

When first thing,  I called my mother’s doctor to request a cough suppressant prescription; my mother is literally worn down by coughing.  She is on superbug antibiotics for what most likely is pneumonia caught from her most recent hospital stay.

Said doctor agreed to the prescription, but contains a controlled substance so cannot be called into the pharmacy. Must be picked up at doctor office’s little sliding-glass window….

Which would have been fine if I had the said aide’s cell number; if  I could text her. As within that same hour, she would be driving right by said doctor’s office, then right by the pharmacy where she could have dropped off said prescription on route to my mother’s.

Instead, I had to call Mr. Starched Gelled Gum-Chewing Vice President on his cell.

“No problem,” he said. Just text him and he’d forward the text to her.

He actually made this third-party communication plan sound not stupid.

So I texted him.

Didn’t hear back. “Did you get my text?” I texted.

I called him again and got this message: Not even that his voicemail “box is full,” but that it “isn’t set up” yet. Wha??

Within this one-hour frame time, said aide was already on the road and could be accomplishing this prescription-filling mission.

I did finally get a text back from Mr. VP:  “I am at a client’s house with limited service. Forwarded all info to Frank and he will handle it.”

Frank? Who is Frank?? So he forwarded info to said Frank to forward to aide?

Said aide is due at my mother’s at 10 am.

I call my mother at 10:15.  “Is she there?”

“Yes, she’s here….”

“Did she bring you the prescription?”

“What prescription?”

I asked if I could talk to her.

Said aide told me she knew nothing about anything.

I’m usually not fueled up for a day’s trials until after my second cup of coffee which I hadn’t had yet. To my surprise, I was as fueled and ready to be launched as a rocket. “What’s the big deal that I can’t have your phone number?” I snapped at genuine likable said aide.

I was ready for her to argue back about agency protocol yadda yadda.

She didn’t: “I don’t know, it’s stupid. Sure, you can have it. Call me or text anytime.”

Holy. Just like that, she gave me that prized precious life-line cell phone number. My chocolate mousse.

I still hadn’t heard back from starched VP, piling up numerous text message bubbles on his own iPhone in his “limited service” area. Cresting a Miami wave?

Someone else from said agency called. An assistant. Or secretary, whatever. A pigeon messenger, to inform me that prescription mission was actually finally accomplished. By “Frank” who turns out to be starched VP’s  “boss,” thus president of said agency.

When starched vice president calls me later – finally having found his way out of “limited service” area with compass – I let him know that he doesn’t even have his voicemail set up yet. I felt like a mom which I am, snapping at my slacker eight year old who won’t pick up his dirty underwear and still leaves cheese stick wrappers lying around.

So on the first day of this aide’s job I gave everyone but her an earful.

Which is fine. Because my mother finally has an aide who is genuinely cheerful and personable, and who actually will do stuff, even clean out the kitty litter pan. Who today will wash my mother’s sheets and even flip her mattress. Who would rather keep busy than watch TV and wait for my mother to ring the damn cow bell I’d bought for the last aide who never heard her calls.

Said aide: hopefully a blessing to us both. Me and my mom as we navigate these difficult tumultuous  waters of old-age deterioration. Waves I myself have no desire to surf but must face head on, dive through if I must, just before they crash over me. Over us.


About Sandra

Author;editor of The Woven Tale Press at thewoventalepress.net; mother; weaver
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16 Responses to Tale Tues: Texting Home Care Aides

  1. Tamara T. says:

    grab that aide and hang on tight!! It is so hard to find trustworthy, friendly help. I went through this with my Grandmother (not looking forward to tackling it with my mom) so I understand. That being said, Great post! Your descriptions are very vivid! I can almost hear the gum smacking.

  2. Kathy says:

    You would think that it would be a given that you would be given the aide’s phone number. Glad you got someone you like and can depend on to take care of you mom.


  3. Wow, Sandra! I can’t believe how much trouble you have! Except for the fact you love this aide, I would be dumping that agency so fast you couldn’t see that gum-chewer fly by! I had several agencies over the 17 years of my mother’s incapacity, but I never had anybody like that! I never saw a man the whole time – our case managers were always female RNs and they were usually very responsive. You could always get hold of somebody, and one of our nurses was exceptional. Some of our aides were duds, but that’s to be expected. And it ended in 1997, before the age of texting or even heavy cell phone use. Guess I was lucky on that score.

    • Sandra says:

      yeah, times have changed; these case managers are no RNs. Met the boss last night; he looks like he should be out chopping wood.

  4. Debbie says:

    So glad you were able to get the aide’s phone number and that she seems like a good one! Those are hard to find. Mr. Gumsmacker is obviously a jackass! Always enjoy reading your posts, Sandra. Very entertaining, no matter what the subject. Intrigued about your Woven Tale Press. Must read more about it; thanks.

  5. ElaineLK says:

    Oh, Sandra, you made me laugh and feel for you with this story. It must be so hard to be trying to care for your mom from so far away. You don’t need this kind of frustration on top of it. I’m so glad you found a great aide. Just ignore the suited bureaucrats. What a crazy way to set things up. Think he has a power craving??

  6. Glen says:

    Sandra, thanks for this. I love it. You have a way of making me laugh with each Tale Tuesday. Maybe you could get Mr. VP some sunglasses and sunscreen next time he drops by.



    • Sandra says:

      He already has quite a nice tan, GLen. I’m sure he’s used to slathering himself in sunscreen. And I think he probably had sunglasses pushed back up on his head or maybe that’s how I remember him…

  7. That sounds a pain! People and systems can be so awkward for no reason, can’t they!
    At least you seem to have a good aide at the end of it.

  8. daphne says:

    wow… how stressful… i felt it… thank goodness for a kind and helpful woman, to ease both your and your mom’s situation. 🙂

    • Sandra says:

      Ironically, my mother just called that she’s planning to fire her tomorrow. I had to go walk the dog around the block ten times to cool off.

  9. Amy Morgan says:

    So hopeful that this aide fulfills this promising start. It would be so wonderful for you to have a “partner” in her care life this. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed!

  10. Oh , I do hope this aid works out for you—you’ve already been through so much. Love the character descriptions here–and I too, cannot tolerate gum chewing!!!!

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