Juanita’s Sick Daughter Spends the Day in the Break Room
by: Gordon Lawrence
Juanita has a problem. A very big problem. Her infant daughter, Isabella, is sick. Maybe it’s the flu. Maybe it’s something she ate.
But whatever it is, Juanita MUST get to work because she is “on notice” for attendance. One more absence will be the end of the job. And Juanita needs the check.
There have been car problems. Family problems. Child sickness problems. Many reasons for being sick or absent.
There’s no chance for Juanita’s mom to help; she has already left for her job. And Juanita knows better than to try to take Isabella to the child care center.
Juanita hates the thought of moving Isabella, asleep in her crib. “Baby, you’re coming to work with mamma today.”
Juanita makes a quick mental list: food, milk, blanket, clothes, diapers, toys, portable radio, big sign and small note.
Quickly gathering her lunch and the items on the list, Juanita picked up her daughter and drove to work.
The guard didn’t look up as Juanita tapped her badge to the security reader. Quickly, Juanita speed walked to the break room.
With no time to spare, she placed Isabella carefully between the sofa cushions on the couch and covered her with the regular blanket. Toys were strategically placed and the radio turned on to the familiar music station.
And with a kiss on the cheek, thank God, Isabella was asleep, Juanita placed the big sign by her daughter’s head, the large bag by her daughter’s feet, bottles in the refrigerator, and raced to her desk.
Juanita signed on to the call system with 7 seconds to spare. At the next desk, Rasheed caught her eye, “Whas up.”
Juanita passed him the note. It read, “This is Juanita and I need your help today. My daughter is in the break room. Please check on her when you go to break or lunch. Food, milk, diapers and toys are in the big bag.”
Rasheed read the note and passed it to Patricia. Patricia passed it to Shaquita, who passed it to Jake. In 25 minutes, it was returned to Juanita, after having been read by 32 co-workers.
At the first break, Sally read the sign, picked up Isabella and fed her apple sauce. Sally smiled, thinking of the grandkids she never had. Sally passed Isabella to Don, who laughed as he grabbed the clothes bag and moved to the sink, calling out, “Diaper changing time.”
Don handed Isabella to Maggie Simonkowski, a burly collector and, 15 minutes later, Maggie lovingly gave Isabella to Tamika. A mother of five, Tamika smiled at Isabella and asked, “Little girl, let’s see what we can find for you to eat.” Isabella returned the smile.
In fifteen minutes, the break room was empty. Tamika read the sign and said softly to Isabella, “Girl, it’s time for your nap after all this excitement”, and placed the infant between the pillows on the sofa and covered her with the blanket. Isabella quickly fell asleep.
At 11:45 Juanita took Isabella to lunch and through the afternoon the morning caregivers happily returned to care for Isabella.
Maggie, the burly collector, arrived at 3:15 to find a young co-worker holding Isabella. Maggie glared down and barked “Give her to me” and immediately was holding Isabella for another fifteen minutes.
Whatever illness Isabella suffered did not return through the end of the day. Each of the six times Juanita checked on her, Isabella was sleeping or happily smiling while in the arms of a co-worker.
At leaving time, Juanita raced for the break room and gathered her sign, bag, blanket, bottles and little girl. “Baby, it’s time to go home,” Juanita happily announced and Isabella reached for her mom.
A small group of reps gathered outside the break room door to say goodbye and Isabella acknowledged each person with a smile. Passing by the guards, who did not look up, Juanita tapped her security badge and left the building.
“Yes, I did it!” Juanita yelled after closing the car door.
As she turned the car onto the main road home, Juanita relaxed and sang along with the radio, “I get by with a little help from my friends, yes, I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends, I get by with a little help from my friends, a little help from my great friends.”
And in the back seat, the large sign read, PLEASE TAKE CARE OF ISABELLA. LOVE HER AS YOUR OWN. JUANITA
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