Coming out onto the parking lot in daylight, not her typical just-off-shift 7 am or 11 pm visit. Something marginally refreshing about this time frame, real people instead of those scared to be seen at any other hour than 3 am.
But still she manages to feel obscure regret for buying groceries at this hour, when the store is open twenty-four hours. As if she's wasting a resource.
There is always something to feel you've done wrong.
An ICU nurse gets three critical patients all to herself, an intermediate care nurse gets six patients, floor nurses get fifteen to twenty to keep up with. And ER nurses get to divide however many show up at the sliding glass doors between the three of them.
Always ten deep in things-to-be-done-as-soon-as-possible, and always three of them forgotten before the next ten things cycle up. And always some of those three come back to you in off-duty, loosely conscious, hovering, saying you forgot something. Like checking the knot that's not supposed to be there just beneath your left armpit.
Sometimes it isn't important. Sometimes it is.
Looking for her car. A new Toyota--not pretentious, not showy.
A purchase falling into the category of justifiable.
Sometimes you have to explain to a family member how many things you had to do, the doctors, how sorry, how very sorry. . .about everything.
Across the lot, trying to reach her new car, and she stops still.
One of those new Cadillacs, the compact, solid-looking kind. Backing up, an old lady, not able to see or navigate clearly, tires about to jump the concrete divider. She can't understand why her new car won't go when she gives it gas. So she gives it more.
"No," the nurse says, as it heads clearly for her Toyota. "Don't."
The cars collide. An enormous surprise on the driver's face.
As she gets out, our nurse goes over. They survey the damage. "That's my car." It's pretty badly crumpled on the driver's door.
Expecting the woman to start by saying she's sorry, almost more than anything she dreads the apologies, the embarrassment.
She's a recent arrival to the elderly class, dress suit with pearls to go to K-Mart.
"Why, honey, can't you get your husband to just get a hammer and straighten that out?"