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Secret hiding place

July 17, 2017
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I have been in this room by myself for a while and felt secure leaving some things out. However, I lock up valuable items and snacks in a cabinet in my room.

Ever since my roommate, who I will call Darlene, moved in, I realized I would have to make sure my things were put away. I usually trust everyone, but I do not want my roommate to misappropriate my things.

The next week, activities shopped for me. When an activity aide delivered my purchases, I asked her to put them away. If she did not have the time, I suggested she store them in the Activities office. She said she would take care of it. Unfortunately, the next morning the shopping bags were on the floor and in the way. I asked my aide to put them on top of Darlene's closet so I could keep an eye on them. I thought activities would put them away that day or the next, but they did not.

One evening, a couple of days later, I asked a second shift aide to get a box of protein bars from a bag on top of Darlene's closet. She asked if I wanted the items put away, and I said I did. She put my store items away, but there were no protein bars. She checked my receipt and discovered two boxes of protein bars and two small bags of pretzel crisps were missing.

Since Darlene was not in the room, my aide searched her side. Behind her chest of drawers, the aide found an empty protein bar box. In one of her drawers, she found an empty pretzel crisp bag.

An aide texted the nurse manager, who was on vacation. She replied, saying I should not worry. and those items were later replaced.

A day or two later, an aide found empty packs of the chewing gum brand I buy on the floor on Darlene's side of the room. I have kept my gum in an unlocked drawer here for years. The aides asked if I wanted the gum locked up. I told them I did not. I knew I had extra packs and thought maybe the theft would stop. But it did not.

Then the aides told me they found gum and wrappers outside on the ground by the smoke shack. Darlene was required to clean them up. I wonder if facility management ever confronted Darlene about the missing item evidence, which was found.

About three weeks ago, Darlene was getting ready to go to smoke break. She stopped in front of her chest of drawers and reached behind it trying to get something. I thought maybe I had discovered her hiding place for purloined items.

When my roommate left the room, I told my aide what I had seen. She searched Darlene's side of the room again. Behind her chest of drawers, she found another empty protein bar box, empty gum wrappers and one lone cigarette butt.

After that, I decided to have the aides lock up my gum.

Just to see what would happen, I had them put a three pack bag of gum on Darlene's bed. When she returned, I said, "I've given you a triple pack of gum." Darlene very nicely said, "Thank you."

I have no idea how Darlene feels living here without the things that give her comfort. I have offered her lotion and clothing that does not fit me, which she declined.

There is probably no way to get Darlene to stop taking what she wants. I have forgiven her, and I do have compassion for her wanting things she does not have.

Related: A roommate, as promised

Kathleen Mears

@KathleenLMears1

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is...

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