"Don't you people have an office you can use? This is our space", a spritely resident goaded us.
My colleague and I were sitting in one of the communal areas of a residential aged care facility taking with someone from head office about a project we're working on. Being contractors we are used to being mobile and working wherever we can find space.
Before having a chance to respond with anything more than a smile, she continued. "I'm sick of head office sending people down here and coming into our space and not treating it like our home". She proceeded to tell us about how ridiculous it was that they'd changed the toothpaste to smaller sized tubes that ran out quickly and resulted in more waste. She spoke of her disappointment that the window cleaning contractors had changed. The friendly family team had been replaced by disrespectful buffoons. She berated us, maintaining a wry smile throughout.
Eventually we got the opportunity to tell her we weren't actually from head office, we were pharmacists. And we would happily find somewhere else to sit. The woman who was from head office responded with a sympathetic ear and connected her with someone local to register her complaints officially. I asked of her name and suggested we come find her at some stage to talk to her about medicines. She was clearly a systems thinker and sure to have an ideas about what could be improved. She seemed delighted by this. "I used to be a nurse" she said as she walked away with a smile.
We passed her again later that day. This time we were doing the walking and she was sitting in the communal area preparing to listen to a performance of Christmas carols. She nudged the woman sitting next to her. "I told these guys off before. They're alright", she said with a smirk.
She gave us a good reminder that day. We are in their home and we should be respectful of that. We still use communal areas to work, but we make sure we ask the residents for permission now.