Melissa counsels Ainsley to never, ever skip her breaks.
Beacon Hills - Memorial Hospital
August 17, 2015
There's something that can be said of Ainsley's work ethic. She's an intern -- Beacon Hills probably doesn't get a lot of those -- and the diminutive dour young lady in the glasses never seems to shirk her duties, but it comes at the expense of anyone knowing what her deal is. That's why she's currently cleaning up one of the rooms when she really doesn't have to be, instead of sitting in the break room with everyone else to talk shop. She doesn't complain and moves at a decent pace, occasionally pausing to assess if she missed anything.
Unable to really let things go unsaid at a stretch, Melissa simply can't staunch her mixed curiosity and concern at the new girl's Deal. Not go on break? Who does that!? Melissa would go absolutely loco without them. So some minutes into said break, Melissa pops her head into the doorway, and calls out: "Ainsley! What are you doing? Take a break!" Her own scrubs are a bright teal, with her hair pulled back in an unruly ponytail. It's been one of those days already.
Ainsley looks up at Melissa, eyes wide. She stares for a beat. "Oh right," she says, looking up at the clock, and then at her watch, and then to Melissa. Like she had just been on work auto-pilot for the most part. She looks around the room, her brows knitting, as if she were assessing whether sacrificing whatever cleanliness she could provide the practically immaculate room was worth a coffee and a snack. She steps out of the room and stops to look up at Melissa. A moment passes like she wants to say something, but instead she goes to track down some eats and a chair to sit in, nodding at Melissa when walking by.
Having anyone look up at her is something of a change, which Melissa leverages amidst some no-nonsense arm folding to radiate her mother aura of 'Shoo!' It's well-practiced. Laughing to herself, almost disbelieving, she shakes her head a little, and then power-walks right up next to the intern. "Ainsley, seriously, this job will wear you down if you don't take your breaks. So don't sweat the details--we're all a team here. We'll make sure the work gets done." Then she leans down conspiratorially and stage-whispers, "The brewed coffee tastes like mud. Grab some from the machine." That said, Melissa breaks off towards the refrigerator to grab herself some yogurt. She promptly sits across from Ainsley, slaps the yogurt on the table, and then swings her crossed legs over one side and off the edge of her chair to lift her feet off the ground for one, small, glorious moment. "Oh, man."
If nothing else, Ainsley seems attentive while Melissa talks to her, nodding in vague recognition of the advice and even managing a small smile at the note about the coffee. She goes to get a bottled coffee drink, and some sort of granola bar with her own yogurt. Not the same brand, but hey. When she sits down, too, she opens the bottle and carefully goes about ensuring she does not starve. Even eating looks like she's working, she doesn't seem to have a relaxation mode. "I don't like sitting still," she admits to Melissa, her voice mellow and possessing that faint accent of a third generation Spanish speaker, "Feels like wasting time." Regardless, she's content to enjoy her food. She does like that granola bar. "Is that weird?" she wonders.
Somehow, Melissa manages to balance herself against the backrest of her chair in such a way so her legs continue to dangle in mid-air while opening the aforementioned yogurt and procuring her spoon from the table. She's going to milk this moment for all it's worth, and she's had at least a decade of practice doing just this. Enjoying the little moments. "It's a little weird," Melissa says, spooning a bit of yogurt into her mouth, and smiling around said spoon. She laughs a little as she tries to smile while swallowing, retrieving and wielding the utensil like a baton. "Don't get me wrong--I live with weird. All I'm saying is that you need to pace yourself or this job will burn you out. Believe me, I've seen it a hundred times." That's probably hyperbole. Probably. But Melissa has been here awhile.
The very serious-looking Latina intern watches Melissa and gives a frowny thoughtful look as she's given the advice. Ainsley sips at her coffee while she thinks on it, and when she's done sipping her coffee, she awkwardly adjusts her watch. She doesn't seem to know how to reply to that. "This how I've always been," she tells Melissa, though it's mostly an exaggeration, it might have some truth to it. "What do you mean by that, anyways? Burn me out?"
Melissa spoons herself another dollop of yogurt while considering Ainsley sympathetically. "Honey, simply wanting to be here isn't enough to keep you going every day. Some days the job just asks more than you have to give, and you've got to be prepared to deal with that." Licking the spoon, she slips it back into the yogurt container. "Burning out. Really, you've never heard that?" The woman sighs a little and licks her lips thoughtfully. "Ok, so. Like fire burns out its fuel, right? The job can suck the spark right out of you. Eat all the oxygen." She pulls the spoon out of the yogurt and makes a popping sound with her lips to illustrate. "For example, working 7 days straight with the occasional double shift exhausts even the best of us. I mean, I love this job, but there are other things I want to do--like be with my son." Finally, Melissa lets down her legs and places the yogurt back onto the table. "My point being--just take some time to breathe. Honestly, if cleaning really destresses you and lets you relax, then I can't argue with that." She lifts up her hands and shrugs. "Just keep that in mind."
There's a slow blink or three at the comments toward Ainsley about why she's here, and overall she just patiently listens to Melissa, gulping down her coffee and eating her snacks. While she talks about the trials of being a nurse, the intern watches, not with a vacant expression, but like someone carefully dissecting everything being said to her. "Hrm," she sounds out, after she's finished all of her snack food. She gets up to a stand and carefully slides the chair neatly where it should be, finding a bin to discard the trash from her breaktime fooding. "Fair enough," she finally says, pulling out her phone to toy with it. She doesn't LOOK like she's relaxing, but she can't ignore good advice and run off to keep working when her break's still on. "I'll figure something out. But believe me, I know what I'm doing." She looks up at Melissa, the bright but fairly mellow gaze seeming more light-hearted thanks to her glasses magnifying her eyes. "I'm not just here because I want to be here," she tells Melissa, but doesn't explain further than that, returning to her phone. A faint video-gamey noise sounds from it, she might be playing a game on it now.
This one's hard to read, Melissa muses to herself. Grabbing the yogurt, she stirs it idly, this time actually sliding back into the chair like a normal person. 'She's not my child,' Melissa has tell herself, not to mention an adult. But it's clear from the more solemn expression on her face that she's concerned about Ainsley taking the possibility of exhaustion seriously. Another slow spoonful of yogurt, and she nods at the woman's confidence. "Hey, I believe you," she says, with more yogurt-stirring. "Heroes and healers just have a tenancy to sometimes forget that they're important, too." That said, another spoonful of yogurt completes the snack, and Melissa gets up to toss the container into the trash, walking the spoon to the sink for rinsing. Without turning around, she adds, "If you need any help getting settled in, just let me know."
While Melissa is busy with that, Ainsley listens to those words on heroes and healers. She breathes a sigh through her nose. "My dad's a cop," she tells Melissa, "I know all about that part." The haggard way she says that suggests she's got a history of dealing with people that don't really put themselves first, starting at home. She turns her phone back on vibrate and puts it back in the pocket she retrieved it from, looking up at Melissa once more. "I think I've got it, so far," she says to Melissa, "But thanks." She turns to leave, and hesitates. And looks over her shoulder, "Really, though. Thanks." And she scoots out of the room... pretty much at the end of the designated break time on the dot.
As the explanations come, Melissa's feature soften (not that they were hard), and she turns from the sink to smile at Ainsley with that knowing, motherly, 'I understand and feel your hardship' expression. She nods, clearly getting that what needed to be said has been said, and pushing any further would be overstepping herself. "Anytime, Ainsley," is all she says, as the other nurse exits the room, leaving Melissa at the sink with a wet spoon, gazing at her distorted reflection therein and wondering if she has really been any different these past few years. Placing the spoon down, she dries her hands. "I hope you can forgive me when you're older, Scott," she whispers to herself. "If you get there."