Snacking on the Psych Unit

Stories - Sign Theme Sexual Harassment NoI had come from working a year on night shift at the pediatric unit to second shift on the mental health wing. Needless to say, I had a huge learning curve.

I loved it from the first day when “Lester” swung his invisible sword over my left shoulder to protect me from an invisible dragon attack.

He was one of the sweetest men I’d met. But as I quickly found out, many men were not as kind.

When mental illness, medication reactions, or withdrawal affect a person, often incredibly shocking and unsavory things get flung the nurses’ way.

And with me being the youngest on staff and infuriatingly prone to blushing, I became a really easy target.

As my six month evaluation rolled around, my manager encouraged me greatly by saying I “belonged” as a psych nurse.

To be counted amongst the best, and weirdest, nurses I’d known was an honor.

But when it came to discussing obstacles, I said my biggest was handing and dismantling sexual or inappropriate comments from male patients.

So, she made one of my yearly “goals” to be “More self-assertive and upfront in setting appropriate verbal boundaries with patients and advocating respect” for myself.

“The vein in his forehead started to throb and I thought we were going to have to call security, he was getting so angry.”

So fresh with some empowerment, I walked to the nurses’ station for report only to find I was assigned a disgruntled and unhappy man who had been very rude to the staff all day.

He supposedly did not like women and had a heavy lisp so I was told to be firm and listen carefully.

He stayed in is room most of the evening. The shift had been calm, we were all gathering our night meds and chatting about family.

Just as I had gotten up from my charting, I saw him charging around the corner, deep frown, furrowed forehead, blanket draping his shoulders.

He stopped just short of the door and put both hands on his hips, his eyes locking on mine. “Can we have sex tonight?” he angrily blurted.

Deep breath, here’s your chance. Calm-the-blush-down! I thought.

“Sir! That is highly inappropriate and you cannot speak to me that way.” I said with my best faux-confidence.

His face twisted with anger and his voice got louder as he shouted incredulously, “But we had sex LAST night!!”

Ohhh, the gloves were coming off. I squared my shoulders, set my jaw and said, “We most certainly did NOT! I’m going to have to insist you speak to me in a respectful way. You are being very inappropriate.”

The vein in his forehead started to throb and I thought we were going to have to call security, he was getting so angry.

Fine my be, I thought with some pride. I at least stood up for myself.

He threw up his hands and shouted so loud I jumped, “What in the world is inappropriate about POPCORN???!”

I stopped mentally patting my back long enough to ask, “Wait, you said ‘sex’ right?”

“NO!” he bellowed, “STHNACKS!!”

Oooooooooooo. The lisp. The evening movie night. Accompanied by the evening popcorn.

All that earlier empowerment deflated out of me as my face darkened five shades and I sputtered, “Sir, I’m – I’m so sorry…I thought you were asking me for sex…not snacks.”

He stood up straight, took the dragging corner of his hospital blanket and whipped it around his shoulder like an indignant Zorro as he raised his hand and pointed at me saying, “Now THAT, young lady, is inappropriate,” then stormed off, Orville Redenbacher in hand accompanied by the cackles of my fellow nurses dissolving into fits of uncontrollable laughter.

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