-Disclaimer- I don't own the Pokemon franchise, no profit intended from this, etc, etc, etc...
"Wow, that was some battle, Ash," dark-skinned, 19-year-old Brock Slate complimented his friend as they stepped through the automatic sliding doors of the local Pokemon Center.
His friend, redheaded 13-year-old Misty Spring, nodded in agreement. "I have to admit, when that guy sent out his Tyranitar, I thought the match was over. But Totodile really came through for you, Ash. You two work great together."
"Thanks, guys," smiled 13-year-old Ash Ketchum. "Right now though, I think all of our Pokemon could use a checkup so let's go see Nurse Joy."
Brock instantly dashed to the counter and quickly but gently clasped the young nurse's hand. "Oh, Nurse Joy, as soon as I laid eyes on you I just knew you'd take perfect care of our Pokemon! You look perfect right now, and I think we make a perfect match, don't you?"
Annoyed, Misty grabbed Brock's ear and pulled him a few steps away. "I think you're perfectly pathetic," she groaned.
Nurse Joy didn't seem to notice any of this. She was staring at an old photograph mounted on the wall just behind her and seemed to be lost in thought. Ash put an end to that by stepping up and ringing the bell. The nurse did have a job to do, after all. "Nurse Joy," said Ash in a loud but firm voice.
The nurse gave a start and turned around to face the trio. Brock had calmed down by now. "Oh, I'm sorry," she apologized.
"That's ok, we just want to check in our Pokemon," said Ash. The trio laid their Pokeballs down in the tray that Nurse Joy provided. Pikachu hopped up onto the table too and climbed onto another tray, and Misty laid Togepi down next to it.
After the nurse had her Chansey take the Pokemon down to the examining room, Ash inquired, "If it isn't too personal or anything...who's that in the picture you were staring at when we came in?" His curiosity was peaked by the old black-and-white picture. It depicted a woman in approximately her mid-thirties, standing in front of the reception desk of a Pokemon Center. The woman was older than most of the Nurse Joys Ash had met, but there was no mistaking who she was. The trademark hairstyle and uniform were instantly recognizable, so Ash could tell that she was in fact a Nurse Joy. Standing next to her was another woman in her mid-thirties, with the distinguishable uniform and hairstyle of an Officer Jenny.
Nurse Joy took the picture down off its nail and brought it over so Ash, Misty, and Brock could get a better look. "They were the original Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny."
"The original Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny?" the trio echoed in unison.
"You mean you've never heard the story?" The young nurse was just as surprised as the trainers.
All three shook their heads. "No, we haven't," said Brock.
Nurse Joy looked around. "It's pretty slow right now, I think I have time to tell you. You three are the only people who have been in here all day. I can't leave the desk though, so if you like you can bring over some of those chairs." She gestured to the movable chairs in the waiting area. Ash, Misty, and Brock each brought over a chair and set them in a semicircle around the reception desk. All three were very curious about the picture now.
When they were ready, Nurse Joy began. "Pokemon Centers weren't always staffed by Nurse Joys." To the trio's raised eyebrows, she smiled and continued. "Two hundred years ago, a nurse named Joy Campbell started work at the Celadon City Pokemon Center. Back then, the Centers were staffed by all kinds of different people. Doctors, nurses, young, old, anyone who qualified. But then it didn't take much to qualify. Pokemon training wasn't as popular or highly regarded back then as it is now. Most of the people who staffed Pokemon Centers were trying to get what they considered more 'prestigious' jobs at famous hospitals for humans, or else they just had those jobs while they were going through college and then moved on. At any rate, there weren't very many dedicated Pokemon doctors and nurses, and Pokemon care was suffering as a result. Everyone did their jobs, but there was something...missing. At least, that's what Joy Campbell tried to convince the Pokemon League of. But the League was relatively new then too, and they simply didn't understand just how important it is to keep trainers' Pokemon in tip-top condition, and to provide services for the trainers themselves. If a trainer couldn't get into a Pokemon Center, he was left on his own to fend for himself. Sometimes even the reason he couldn't get in was because half the guests in the Center weren't even trainers!"
"That still happens today sometimes," Ash interrupted, remembering the hard time the trio had getting a room when they had visited Cinnabar Island.
Nurse Joy nodded. "Sadly yes, but not nearly as often as back then. Today it mostly happens in tourist traps and such, and the situation is usually dealt with pretty quickly. People were basically taking advantage of the system back then though. Then one day, that all changed." She paused for a breath.
"What happened?" asked Ash, totally into the story now.
"While doing her routine shift at the reception desk, Joy Campbell suddenly caught a faint whiff of smoke," Nurse Joy went on. "Following the scent to one of the examination rooms, she flung the door open to find the room on fire!"
Misty gasped. "Did the Pokemon get out ok?"
Nurse Joy smiled again and held up her hands to calm the girl down. "Just give me a chance and I'll tell you."
"Don't worry about it. Anyway, she was working a shift alone at the time, so there was nobody else to help. She pulled the fire alarm and then looked around. Her first thought was of the injured Grass and Bug Pokemon. There were no Steel or Ice types there at the time, but she knew that Grass and Bug types were weak against fire, so she had to get them out first. Back and forth she went, sometimes carrying two or three Pokemon at a time, depending on their sizes. First out were an Oddish, a Bulbasaur, and a Bellsprout. Next, a Paras and a Beedrill. By then, the Officer Jenny you see in the picture arrived. She grabbed the fire extinguisher and fought the blaze while Joy continued to get the Pokemon out. That took care of the Grass and Bug types so she moved on to the others. A few Rock, Fire, and Water types were there too, but she decided to leave them till last since they're resistant to fire. Back and forth she went, carrying out Pokemon after Pokemon. A Squirtle and a Geodude who had almost recovered managed to help Officer Jenny fight back the flames a bit, but Jenny had to get them out after they got overcome by the smoke. There were thirty Pokemon in that Center, and she got every one of them out before the fire department even got there."
"Wow..." said Brock, shaking his head in amazement.
Ash had a slightly confused look on his face. "Um, I have a question, and I hope it doesn't sound disrespectful or anything. I mean, it's awesome what she did and all, but...couldn't they just have recalled them to their Pokeballs?"
"That's not disrespectful, Ash, in fact that's a very thoughtful question," Nurse Joy said, nodding. "Back then, the technology for Pokeballs wasn't as advanced as it is today. In order to call out or recall a Pokemon, you had to turn a little crank on the Pokeball exactly twice, then undo a small clip on the ball with your thumb. It would've taken too long to do that thirty times, especially since the room was filling up with smoke."
"Oh, right. I never thought of that," said Ash, a little embarrassed.
"It's ok, Ash," reassured the young nurse. Then she went on, "After their ordeal, Joy and Jenny had to be taken to the hospital and treated for severe smoke inhalation and several minor burns, while the Pokemon they saved were taken to the next nearest Pokemon Center, which as you know is the one in Saffron City. The media hailed them as a hero, and their actions prompted the Pokemon League to take a good, hard look at the Pokemon Center system. After that and a bit of honest research, they realized just how important Pokemon are to all humans, how vital it is that we learn to live in peace with them, and the role of a Pokemon trainer in helping all that to come about.
"At the time, Joy Campbell had five kids, all daughters, and they all wanted to be just like their heroic mother. Most of Joy's kids and grandkids became nurses as well, and in honor of Joy Campbell, they all took up her trademark look. Jenny Johnson--the original Officer Jenny--had four kids of her own, three daughters and a son. The daughters all went on to become officers like their mom, while the son was inspired by his mother's love of Pokemon to try out for the Pokemon League. The way the original Joy and Jenny wore their clothes and did their hair--that's the same look that I and all the other Nurse Joys have today, as well as the Officer Jennys. We all hope that one day, we can be just as heroic as they were. Until then, we do our jobs to the best of our abilities."
"When the Pokemon League got wind of the decisions of those first few Joys and Jennys, the League contacted them with an idea. According to their research, the thing new Pokemon trainers needed most was familiarity. They were travelling to new places, completely on their own, often with no idea of what to expect. So the League asked all the nurses and police officers of the various cities in Kanto to take on the hair color, hairstyle, and uniform of the original Joy and Jenny as a mandatory dress code. Also, they asked if they could all be known while on the job simply as 'Nurse Joy' or 'Officer Jenny'. They thought that it would be nice for new trainers to have at least a little bit of familiarity, to know that no matter where they went, they could count on a Nurse Joy and an Officer Jenny being there when they needed help. The agreement was almost unanimous, and ever since then there have been a Nurse Joy and an Officer Jenny in each city in Kanto. The policy later extended to the Johto and Hoenn regions too."
"So you have two reasons for dedication to your job: to help out new trainers and to try to be like Joy Campbell," Brock concluded.
"That's right, but the most important reason, for me at least, is that I love Pokemon and want to help them as best I can," Nurse Joy said sincerely.
"That's great to hear, Nurse Joy," Ash said warmly. "By the way, you said the nurses and officers would be known *on the job* as Joy and Jenny right? Does that mean your real name's not Joy?"
In response, Nurse Joy grinned and extended her hand. "Hello Ash Ketchum, nice to meet you," she said as if meeting him for the first time. "My name is Christine King."
"Nice to meet you, Christine," Ash responded, and the four shook hands.