At 19, there were few jobs open to me that offered security, a nice health benefits package, and a decent hourly wage. I was getting tired of working as a bus boy and decided to search out local hospitals in San Diego.
At the time, one of my sisters was a registered dietician, the other a geneticist, and one of my older brothers had recently graduated medical school, although I had absolutely no idea what happened inside of hospitals, except for the obvious…
I was hired as a dietary assistant. I thought I would be helping to plan and prepare food for patients (and get free food!), perhaps even visit them on the wards. On my first day, however, I received the tool I would become most familiar with over the next year and a half, my mop.
Although I became quite adept at washing dishes, I was best at mopping the floors. I remember my mopping teacher, “Carlos”, he was absolutely fantastic with a mop. I am not joking, to be a good mopper takes amazing skill and a very strong back…how fast can YOU mop an entire hospital ward floor?
The closest I ever got to having any medical experience was taking dares to run down to the morgue, and step in for a moment. There were three of us on each shift. Each time we were dared, one of us ran down, and attempted the challenge…I think I got the closest. I pushed down hard on the big metal bar, saw it creak open, (closed my eyes) felt the rush of cold air, and turned and ran as fast as I could in the opposite direction.