I’m Still Breathing

[ahyem stil bree-thing]: Samanta Poļakova (Latvian pronunciation: [ˈsamanta ˈpuɔlʲakova]; born 31 March 1989), better known as Samanta Tīna, is a Latvian singer and composer.
After having attempted to represent her country in the Eurovision Song Contest five times earlier (in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2019), she won the national preselection Supernova in 2020 and will represent Latvia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands with the song “Still Breathing“. She also competed in the Lithuanian preselection twice (in 2013 and 2017), and in the Lithuanian version of The Voice.

The House That God Has Forgotten part 71: Just one more good-bye.

I just came back from the psychiatrist this morning. I spent a total of 6 minutes in his office. The whole conversation was pretty much “I am good. Same ole’ same ole. I have a hard time sleeping (I need 8 hours to function). These are the medicines I need refills for. See you in 6 months. Goodbye!”

It was a new doctor. He had no voice and I sat there and think of how I miss Georg (who got fired), Robert (who retired) and even Michael (who was a doctor in training). Now I have this little grey-haired man who I could barely hear when he called out my name. Sat there with his notepad and had nothing interesting to write.

No news is good news in my illness. So even though I am stuck at The House That God Has Forgotten with absolute no job fulfilment and having dreams of my colleagues in The House That God Has Forgotten the past week or so…

I guess everything is ok.

Except it’s not. I lost a friend yesterday. Not dead like lost, but watched another friend take the last steps through the double doors leaving The House That God Has Forgotten one last time.

They did not wave one last time.

They looked straight out the glass door and focused onward. Off to bigger and better things.

“If I want to come back they will hire me with more pay.”

No sense in saying you may come back in six months…because we will still be here. Moving up and down the corridors. Walking through piss. Sending that guy down to the 5th floor who just destroyed his room (and gets to do it for free!).

We will still be here…

We had our last lunch together. We had the reflection of that there is only one person left from the old gang of the fifth floor. Everyone has quit or has been moved around. Some of the free will, others because they had to, and even others because they just needed to.

It was sad really. You miss the people you used to spend every day with. It happens here in The House That God Has Forgotten.

People leave and you get a frozen cake from the kitchen that you have had 50 times because everyone has quit. It has gotten so bad that you buy your own cake to say good-bye because no one else except your colleagues cares that you are leaving.

I watch how they celebrate the leaving of someone in the administration. The fancy cake that the person that is leaving does not have to pay for. The flowers they get as a thank you, the presents and the whole hour of freedom in the middle of the day they get to eat cake and talk shit to each other about saying good-bye.

We have to ask someone to bring it up to promenade, or sneak into the personal room to grab a bite of cake and runaway to work.

We get the Delicato cake frozen from the kitchen. We accept it because we have fought hard to get that cake.

So instead of getting irritated, it becomes a thing of pride. “My boss said they ordered cake!”.

That is because they forget to order a cake for some people. They give years of their lives to The House That God Has Forgotten, and the boss does not even order them a cake. I have seen one guy that literally stood up and did everything asked of him. Larmchef, Vakthavande etc. He never even got a cake. We used our Fika money from cans and bottles to buy him some champagne to say good-bye. Otherwise…he would have been forgotten.

One guy retired. No cake. No nothing. The promise of “We will do it later” when even he may not be coming back To The House That God Has Forgotten. He has retired, it is up to him if he decides to walk through those doors again with heavy feet.

So this is why we buy a cake. Because to everyone but colleagues, we are nothing. Just another brick on the wall.

Every Tuesday we fight over fruit that is always fruit no one likes to eat. The orange lottery where one brave soul tries one to tell everyone else if they are sour or not. The apples or pears that lie there in the basket or bowl until they rot, or until the next week when they get thrown out.

We fight over chocolate balls on Friday and that warm litre of lactose-free milk that is at room temperature. We fight over the chocolate balls because the rest of the baked goods were old people things that most people hate to eat.

We fought hard for our Fridays, but sometimes the bosses forget to order that frozen bread with cinnamon, or those cinnamon rolls that are frozen too. We do not ask for much, but that Friday of treats is something we secretly look forward too.

We miss them every other week we got breakfast instead. That is too expensive. Or the gift of Fika during an APT. You secretly hope you have a good boss that buys you one or bakes them at home.

We had a personal day one year where we used the same bottle and can money. We bought Fika. Our boss should have, but they had no problem eating it without contributing.

It is something I say:

“Well they are not the best boss, but they do bake for the APT.”

I hope our new boss bakes or buys something. We deserve that at least.

So my friend told me there would be cake. That they bought her a basket of things to show how much they appreciate her. (Do the bosses ever donate to those?) It made me feel proud that they remembered her on her final day.

After we ate our lunch and talked for one last time. We went back to our locker room. She held up two bags. this is my locker. One filled with clothes from over the years (she found a lipstick that she thought was gone forever) and the other a plastic bag filled with papers.

She held up a pair of black worn shoes that have walked hundreds of kilometres…walking inmates here to there in intake…sitting in and talking on a RAKEL and answering the phone in the visitors part of the jail. And of course from the corridor where it is the last stop for all inmates.

“These old shoes I am throwing away,” she said as though an era had ended in her life. A fresh start, new adventures and new challenges.

We said goodbye and said to one another…

“Let this not be one of those times we promise to see each other but never do.” (has happened to me more than once)

“No of course not. We will meet up!” she said.

We went our separate ways and I walked like I slowly do, into the IPK laying my nametag, watch and breath spray in a plastic grey box and letting it roll through the x-ray machine as I glide through the metal detector.

The only thought I could think of was when I would have to say good-bye again. (I did it later that afternoon with some I work with, they are bringing a cake and I am off) I’m still breathing here at The House That God Has Forgotten.

And I am probably sure more people will be buying cake and saying good-bye with the promise; “We will meet again.”

I will watch them walk out the glass door, and never see them again.

 

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