The Gatekeeper

I have a college student who is working as a gatekeeper.

She works at a continuous care retirement community that has an assisted living, nursing home, and memory care community. She doesn’t actually work in any of these areas.

She works at the front door in a large reception area featuring a bar, hair salon, and convenience store.

It’s her job to greet people and direct them when they arrive.

Well, that was her job. Now, her job is to stop people.

One guy wanted to see his grandpa who was in hospice. She had to tell him no. Many others have come in expecting to visit loved ones. She’s had to turn them away. There’s often a sob story. There’s always a reason. And it doesn’t matter if it’s legitimate.

Your mom called crying because she’s lonely? I’m sorry, but I can’t let you in.

You’re only in town for two days and you worry your grandma won’t be alive the next time you are back in town? Nope. Sorry.

Of course, she has nothing to do with COVID regulations and procedures. Maybe she agrees with the restrictions; perhaps she doesn’t. She’s complained to me that the facility has not been great about communicating with regarding changes in policies and procedures.

When she’s able to say yes, she talks people into wearing masks when they “don’t believe in them.” She’s learned that should shouldn’t say, “You need to wear a mask.” Now she says, “Here is your mask.”

She tells them that their visit time is limited or that they must restrict their visit to a pod (that is sometimes off putting to their loved one). Even when someone is allowed to visit, they often have issues with the parameters of that visit.

If there was a ever a job when you can get away with saying, “I don’t make the rules…..”

But she does it. And she’s done it since March. At first, it was hard for her to give bad news. She didn’t know how to deliver it. She says it still sucks to give bad news but she’s gotten better at it. Pleasant but firm. She told me her social skills have improved a lot.

She’s not the nursing home administrator. She doesn’t work for the Iowa Department of Health or the federal government. I didn’t ask, but she can’t make much more than minimum wage. But someone gets mad about rules and regulations, and she’s there to take the brunt of it.

I’m not even sure she’s old enough to drink.

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