Flash Fiction

First Day on the Job

The most experienced of our group is relaxing a few feet to my right, as are the other two worn-out old-timers who should have retired long ago. The other newbie is on my left. The room is packed. Occasionally someone asks a question, and often the class laughs at the instructor’s humorous remarks. I heard he has a friendly demeanor with a quick wit.

Seems like forever until the first part of the lesson is over. We’re up next. I’m so excited. It’s my first day on the job and I’m grateful for the opportunity. Not too many jobs out there for someone missing a limb or two. Here they come, eager for our demonstration. Better shrug off this nervousness and help the nice lady sitting in front of me who seems ready to learn the proper technique. She starts right in.

Whoa. She’s stronger than she looks. Easy lady. Didn’t you pay attention to the teacher’s instructions? For Pete’s sake. There was even a video.

This is torture. How long is it going to take her to get it right? Her face is red and drops of perspiration are dripping down her face. Yuck! I repeat the mantra the old timer said would keep me calm. I’m helping people, I’m helping people, I’m helping people. Oh lady, please, you’re killing me.

She finally found the right rhythm. I was never so happy to give her the green light.

Here comes another one. Damn. This guy is a beast. Ugh, ugh. He’s…gasp…pounding…gasp, the air out of my chest. I’m helping…people.

The brute finally learns. He too gets the green light. For the next hour, everyone has a turn, either with me or one of my colleagues. Some are rougher than others, but I’m no longer bothered. I have willed myself to remain calm. After all, this is the job I was made for, and I intend to be good at it.

The last woman to train gets it right away. Where had she been all my life? She’s a natural. I turn on the green light the moment she begins. She senses my approval and continues, never faltering, until the instructor walks over, pats her on the shoulder, and congratulates her.

I hear whispers as they all file out of the room, feeling proud of what they have achieved today. He agrees as he shakes hands and closes the door behind them.

Waiting for him to come back, I feel good, regardless of the clumsy way they treated me. My French girlfriend, although mute, will surely feel proud of my performance today.

Ah, here he comes. I thought he’d give us an atta boy, good job fellas, or some word of praise. But no, he quietly picks us up off the floor one by one and put us into the suitcases. I don’t mind. I’ve had a good first day, and I need a nap, glad the CPR class is over.

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