Thursday, December 28, 2017

It's Not You, It's Us

Happy Holidays!

Sorry I have not been posting.

I am exhausted. I have no idea why.

On the job front, not much has changed. The union continues to talk in circles about my "lateness" in filing a grievance to block the hospital's intended salary cut and repayment.

Four months have come and gone and nothing has been accomplished. That is how things work, or do not work, in this place.

A career coach reviewed my resume, current situation, and goals.

"You will never get another job," was his assessment of me. "You sound weird. You are good where you are because everyone there sounds really weird, so you fit in."

"But I was not like this originally," I explained, to no avail. "They made me weird. They made me defensive. I'm not like them. They are mean and unprofessional."

"No," he reinforced. "You are exactly like your coworkers or they would have gotten rid of you a long time ago."

Have I turned into the same monsters I fight? Was I always like this?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

When Numbers are Misunderstood

The shop steward, Belle, requested to speak with me about my “job complaint” as she calls it.

I already explained my wage issue with her.

“I don’t want to go to administration and look stupid,” she explained.

You are stupid, I thought. I said, “Of course. Nobody wants to look stupid. So if you want to recuse yourself, I understand.”

She jumped right in, not processing anything I said. “Okay. So what makes you look bad is that you suddenly got a lot of money and didn’t say anything. You knew you should not have gotten this money.”

“I don’t know what windfall you are talking about,” I said.

“No, not windfall,” she explained. “How can I make you understand money?” She paused. “When did you claim you got the job as scheduler?”

“A few years back,” I answered, keeping my replies simple for her simple mind.

“Okay. Exactly.” She responded.

“Exactly what?” I asked.

“This is so hard explaining this to you,” she continued. “You were getting an extra thousand dollars a paycheck for a few years, but then it suddenly stopped after you became scheduler. That tells you that you were being paid wrong, so I’m not clear on what scam exactly you are trying to pull on the hospital, but I cannot be a part of that.”

I stared at her. This was my union representation? Really?

“I was never getting an extra thousand dollars per paycheck. Where would you even come up with this?” I said, letting my annoyance show.

Belle pulled out my salary history. She had misinterpreted the thousand dollar PER YEAR raise for a thousand dollar PER PAYCHECK raise. The raises stopped when I became a scheduler because that coincided with the time that I reached the contractual maximum as specified in the union contract.

She stared at the paper for a few minutes. “Well, I don’t think it’s fair that you should make more than me. You started after me.”

“Maybe you can file a grievance with the union,” I answered. “But you are well beyond the five day limit for filing.”

She stared at me.

I saw her paycheck sticking out of her purse several weeks ago. We make the same amount. So I challenged her. “Look at your paycheck. We make the same.”

She left the room with my salary history. When she returned, she said, “Okay, but I should make more because I was hired before you.”

“Nobody can make more than we do because we are at the maximum,” I explained.

She didn’t get it. “But I’ve been here longer” she pointed out, again.

“You were hired a few months before me, but in the same fiscal year. Those thousand dollar increases are given out July 1st until you reach the cap,” I explained.

“I don’t know anything about a fiscal year, but again, you are talking about stuff that is not in the contract and the administration will never agree to,” she responded.

“Good for you!” I chirped. “So go to administration and demand a salary increase beyond the maximum.”

“No,” she interjected, “Your salary should be lower than mine. The hospital will not go beyond the maximum. You should really read the contract.”

I looked at her and slowly asked, “So are you, as my union representative, not going to advocate on my behalf, not because I am wrong, but because you are personally jealous that I make the same money as you do?”

“How can you say that after all I have done for you?” she shot back.

“What did you do for me?” I asked, calm.

“I reviewed your file!” she snapped.

“Not well,” I responded. “You made a $25,000 error.”

“No I didn’t!” she yelled. “You just make stuff up and lie.”

“An extra thousand dollars per paycheck for a year is $26,000, minus the $1000 I did get, is $25,000 per year that you claimed I was earning in error,” I explained in vain.

“You see, this is why the union can’t help you,” she sneered. “You keep changing your story. First you want a new title, now you want $25,000. You make no sense.”

I said no more as I walked out of the room.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Reverse Payroll

Thank you everyone for your messages of concern.

Things are worse.

My own union is on the side of the hospital, just as in all prior problems.

The union said that I have only five business days to file a grievance, as per the contract. I did not do this, so I am barred from contesting anything the hospital is doing, even though they are doing it now.

So in addition to lowering my salary effective the paycheck I had not received yet, the hospital can collect the $2000 it claims they overpaid me for the past two years.

The union went further. The rep informed me that the hospital has decided that I have been overpaid from the start of my employment and so I owe the hospital anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000. Plus, to be fair, my position should be re-opened so that others can apply, and I may not get my position back because I am not the most senior nurse. “I warned you to just pay them the $2000, but you wouldn’t listen,” she chastised me.

I asked if I can have the raises I did not get because I was at “maximum salary” for years. “No,” was the union’s response, because that was more than five days ago.

Why do I have a five day limit while the hospital can go back over all of my years of employment and take money from me?

“Because you were not ENTITLED to that money and you KNOW it, so you have to give it back!” the union rep yelled at me.

This is ridiculous. I assure you that I was never overpaid. I am within the lowest salary bracket in the union contract. I have my first letter of employment stating my salary, which was from the union president who was also a supervisor. Payroll goes through several checkpoints before the check is generated. There is no mistake about my being overpaid. I am actually underpaid because I do not receive the salary as advertised in the position I hold. Again, barred by the Five Day Rule.

This sounds so embarrassing to write, but I live paycheck to paycheck. I cannot afford massive deductions for the next several years. I don’t owe my employer a dime. They owe me.

The union rep called me just after I left the building for lunch, telling me to come to a certain conference room for the meeting about my pay.

“I just left for lunch,” I said. “I didn’t know a meeting was scheduled.”

“Oh, I guess we forgot to tell you,” the union rep answered.

That shows me that they have zero interest in assisting me in good faith.

“When you come back, pick up a grievance form from Nurse Belle,” the union rep instructed. “But remember, you have no chance of getting what you want.”

It took a while to track down Nurse Belle. She wanders off the ward, which doesn’t matter because she does no work when she is on the ward. But this is okay. They aren’t reducing her salary. They go after me instead.

“We don’t want to waste our time,” Nurse Belle explained. “One day you are happy with your job, the next day you aren’t. What if we go to hospital administration, but that day you are happy, so we look like fools?”

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” I replied. “I have never told anyone that I am happy with this job.” That is the truth.

“Don’t you remember,” Belle continued, “That I saw you looking through charts, and I asked you what you were doing, and you said that you were auditing them in preparation for our next survey. I asked you if you were okay with that and you said yes.”

“Yes,” I replied. “Where is the part about happiness?”

“You were happy with your job then, but now you aren’t. I just want to make sure that you won’t change your mind after we do all this work,” Nurse Belle said.

“Belle, I am not asking my employer to make me happy. I am asking for the money I should have been paid and asking that I not owe my employer any money. It’s about money, not emotions. I am not asking for a different position,” I said.

She gave me the Official Grievance Form and told me to fill it out quickly and give it to her.

“I need some time for this,” I replied.

“Why?” she asked, puzzled.

“Because a lot of money is at stake. I have to carefully word what I want and the justifications in the contract,” I explained.

“But the hospital never sees that form,” she said. “It’s for the union to better understand what you want so we know what to say at our monthly meeting with the administration.”

I took the form and left.

I was more upset. The Official Grievance Form is never given to the hospital? So they would have no idea if I filled it out this morning or last month. The Five Day Limit was nonsense that the union made up so I would go away.

I mentioned my struggles to the woman who is kind of like my supervisor. She explained what I think the problem is: my position is actually high paying, but the administration would not approve, so they left my title as a ward nurse but promised me a slightly higher salary (which never happened). Recently, an auditor was brought in for payroll, and she noticed the inconsistencies and flagged me.

She was not sympathetic to my explanation of why I should not owe the hospital money.

So I wished her luck with my replacement and told her I was going to recommend Nurse Fortune because she originally wanted this job very badly.

“She’s a terror!” the woman gasped. “And she can’t use a computer. That’s a requirement of your position!”

“That won’t be my problem,” I calmly said with a smile.

I think the explanation is that they should have changed my title and position to another one as outlined in the union contract. That position paid about $10,000 more than what a ward nurse earns. To save money,they didn’t change my title, thereby cutting me off from the higher salary, all along claiming it was an error and telling me that they “invented this job”special for me. Special because they were screwing me over. When someone finally audited, the discrepancy was uncovered and the hospital wants me to pay the price.

I feel like a fool.

I have to leave. I know I’ve said this before, but now it’s urgent. They are going to start taking money from my checks, possibly the entire check. I can’t afford that.

If I leave, they might take my final check. I don’t know how to prevent this. Someone told me to open a new account at a new bank so the hospital can’t claim my money after I leave.

My next job will not be in nursing. I can’t do this anymore.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Paying my Employer

I'm still upset about my wage reduction.

My prior challenge failed and I was threatened to be transferred to a ward.

I took some time to gather my evidence: prior paychecks, correspondence, and the union contract.

I think I have a solid case that I was never given the salary advertised for my position and that the hospital owes me back pay of $15,000 for the past three years.

I visited payroll to clarify which rubric in the union contract was my payscale.  The lowest. The woman insisted that I should not get paid extra for doing my job.

"Why are other nurses paid extra for doing extra jobs?" I tried.

"Because it's not a part of their role as a nurse," she answered.

"Why is every office and task my job?" I asked.

She insisted that the original posting for my office job counts as a job description, clearly stating that I can be assigned "related tasks." She promised to review my rate of pay.

Shortly after leaving, she sent an email that she reviewed my pay and that I owe the hospital over $2000 for the pay overage. RETALIATION AGAIN?

I was devastated. They didn't notice that they "overpaid" me for two years? This is a worse blow to my morale than the reduction in pay.

I challenged them again. I wrote back that my salary was supposed to be increased to a nurse manager as per the job posting (which I have), so the hospital actually owes me in excess of $15,000.

I had to push this. They would not do this to other people. They expect me to merely accept this. Well, I have other uses for $2000 besides paying my employer. It's like working for free for two weeks.

Monday, October 23, 2017


Thank you for waiting patiently for my next little story.

I have not been feeling good. Pain everywhere. Fatigue.

I work in the medical field. These symptoms could be anything.

I'm using up my sick days, spreading them out to avoid a screening by the (not my ally) employee health department of this Hell Hole.

If anyone asks, I explain that I injured myself while aggressively working out so that people think I'm quite fit.

"Gymnastics? At your age?" they quip.

"Always wanted to try it," I laugh. "Never too late to start, right?"

The toxic atmosphere of this workplace probably contributes greatly to my physical and mental health.

But unless I win the lottery or create a lucrative invention, I'm stuck for now.

Take care of yourselves. You only get one body.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Refrigerator Woes

One of my tasks is to examine all of the refrigerators on the wards.

There are several because, in healthcare, you cannot combine certain items.

Most wards have one refrigerator for staff food, another for patient food, one for medications, and one for specimens awaiting pick up.

I check for comingling of items and that everything is labeled with a current expiration date.

You may have guessed by now that these rules are never followed.

At first, I was merely supposed to check each refrigerator, note the problems on a special form, and submit my findings to the Powers That Be. One day, the nursing director stopped me and said, "You know, I've been meaning to ask you. All these problems you find, you fix them, right?"

"No," I answered. "As explained to me, my role is to forward the completed form to supervisors, including you. I was told by you and others that I am not to confront anyone about any problems I find."

"Oh," she said and paused. "I thought you were supposed to be fixing all these problems. Well, I get the part about you not telling people what to do, but there are ways you could tell them without being bossy. Work on that. Try being nicer to people and they will do what you want. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Ever hear that?"

I didn't bother to try to explain to her why this will not work with this population. If they wanted me to go around and fix problems, that should have been the assignment. Not "inspecting" and completing a form.

At the next inspection, my strategy was to show the offending items to the nurse in charge and leave it up to her what to do. The reactions varied.

1- "Since when were you put in charge? I don't have to do a thing you say."
2- "Why bother? You write me up all the time and I have nothing to do with anything in any refrigerator."
3- "If you are so concerned, fix it yourself. Isn't that your job? To fix the stuff in the fridges?"

I told my immediate supervisor. She maintained, "You are not there to fix their mistakes." But she added, "You could educate them about the rules. Print out copies of the policy and give it to them."

No. There is an education department.  Those nurses get paid a lot more than I do. The rules are taped to the door of every fridge. They toss medications wherever is convenient and store their lunch in the fridge closest to their workstation.

I feel caught in the middle, as if I will be blamed if the hospital is cited for a refrigerator violation because I was supposed to clean up behind irresponsible people.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

That Didn't Go as Planned

I didn’t want my wage reduction to go unchallenged.  (Unlike other nurses, I was informed that I would no longer receive additional money to cover certain higher paying departments.)

Receiving less money interferes with my mantra I repeat to myself all day as one bad thing after another happens:
"I work here for the paycheck and health insurance.  Nothing else."

I decided against going to my union for three reasons.

1-      They might already know.  Management may have asked for and received their blessing.  The joke would be on me.

2-      The union would side with the hospital, not me.  They have never “won” a dispute for me.  The union acts more as a mediator who leans in the hospital's favor instead of being my advocate.

3-      When other nurses start getting their wages reduced and complain to the union, the hospital can cite me as a bonafide case of why this is acceptable.  If the union knows about (and approved) my wage reduction, it will make it difficult to advocate for their favorite children.  If the union does not know that my wages were reduced, they will get angry at me for not telling them and inform me that I put them in a position that makes it difficult to argue to restore salaries of other nurses.  Good.

I emailed the director of the hospital to have in writing why my salary was being reduced.

He answered me.  It was nonsense logic.  He wrote that my salary was actually raised a few years back when I moved from the floor into an office, so that negates any requirement for the hospital to pay me extra for covering other departments; that extra money is for ward nurses only when they are floated to cover an office.

I responded that my salary was not raised and that I am still classified as a ward nurse and that I work on the floor whenever told to do so.

He responded that I am “considered management,” so I cannot have anything other than my base salary, but since I consider myself a ward nurse, I will be assigned a ward and have to work holidays and swing shifts.

As if I were being punished for objecting to my salary being decreased.

I responded that I am not considered management by anyone.  I still report to the shift supervisor like the rest of the ward nurses.  And I am not paid according to the salary rubric for upper level nurses in the union contract.

He wrote back that he would look into it.

It would be funny if they tried to cheat me out of a few extra dollars and ended up having to pay me thousands for the years that I’ve been mainly an office nurse, but paid as a ward nurse.

This will not happen.

I’m glad that I objected to getting screwed over; however, it may have blown up in my face.  At first I was upset that I made matters worse.  But then I read a blog post by the Maverick Traveler:

So I failed in making my case for not reducing my salary.  Just keep going.  In the future I may get better at salary negotiations.

Monday, September 4, 2017

And Just Like That . . .

I feel like a helpless idiot.

For years I have covered a department within the hospital a few days per month on average.  Any nurse when covering this department gets a few dollars extra per hour.

The Director of Nursing called me into her office and told me that someone in payroll reviewed me and that I would no longer be receiving the extra money because "it's your job and you shouldn't get paid extra to do your job."

"Just me, or all the nurses who cover?" I asked.

"Just you," the Director said.

"Since when did it become my job, especially since I have had no raise to bring me anywhere near what that department pays its regular nurses?" I tried.

"Listen," she said, "I know you are mad.  But there were emails.  The director of the hospital agrees, as does your union."

Of course my union was consulted and agreed to screw me over.  "Take money away from Nurse Enid?  Wonderful!  Where do we sign?" was probably their reaction.

"I never got any emails about this," I said.

"Not you.  Other people emailed and made this decision," she explained.

"Could I have copies for my grievance?" I asked.

She didn't say anything.

"I'm grieving this.  You can't take money away from me, especially when you're not doing it to anyone else," I told her.

I am reminded of the clerk who got a bad annual review, which would result in no merit raise.  She ranted and complained and filed grievances until the review was amended so she would get a raise.  Years later, another nurse manager unknowingly gave her a bad annual review.  The supervisor reversed it immediately.

This is what makes me upset.  I do a good job.  This clerk did not.  I'm not asking for anything extra.  I'm asking to keep the money I'm already earning.  The hospital would not do this to that clerk because she would harass them until they reversed their decision.

I guess I have to do the same.

When others hear about this, which they always do, I will look like more of a pushover.  "They could never do that to me" will be said to me by people I barely know.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Allergic to Documentation

One of my new duties is to audit certain aspects of charts.

There is little rhyme or reason to what I audit versus what I don't audit, but that is not surprising in this disorganized place.

Whatever I audit is a confused, contradictory mess with no hope of getting resolved.

Patient allergies, for example.

Patients are usually confused and evasive upon admission due to drugs (prescribed and street), their mental illness (usually schizophrenia), and their overwhelming desire to not be locked up on the psych ward (completely understandable).

A patient may provide one set of allergies to the nurse and a different set to the doctor.  Or claim an allergy to a medication that ruins their high or does not make them high.

As a result, my audits reveal a multitude of allergies, none written consistently throughout the chart, and none sourced.

Getting someone to address the matter is futile.  Yet my supervisor continues to ask, "So, you fixed the issue with the allergies on So-and-So, right?"

Well, no.  How can I?  People shrug their shoulders and either claim they have no idea why they wrote a certain allergy, or claim that "the pharmacy" or "the patient" told them that, so they have to write the allergy.  But not who gave them this information or when.

I can only hope I'm not blamed during the next inspection or survey.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Hanging in There

I am still in my new position.

I do not do much.  The higher-ups don't seem to notice.  It's the other nurses and the orderlies- the people who still work the floor- who seem concerned.  Jealous might be a better word.

I'm afraid they will make trouble for me and cause me to lose this cushy spot.

I think I'm good at looking busy.  I spread papers out on my desk.  I don't openly use my phone, unlike people at the desks around me.

We shall see . . .

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Figuring Out a New Area

Well, I am in my new spot.

I'm confused about what I'm supposed to be doing.  I don't know who my direct supervisor is.  Other people are around, but we are not in the same department.

But it is so nice to not see the people from my prior work area.

I'll post stories as I try to navigate these new waters.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Leave Already

Three evil people were recently very happy.

They were hired together 25 years ago.  Combined with their advanced age, they have reached a magical situation only possible under the old retirement plan:  They can retire.  Leave.  Collect money for not working.

This is not the retirement plan for me and others hired within the last two decades.  Actually, we have no retirement plan.

These people include a supervisor, a woman from my work area, and a secretary who is bonkers.  They are all nasty, lazy people who need to leave.

I understand that they are unemployable outside this Snake Pit.

But I am going to remind them whenever they open their mouths against me that they don't need to be here anymore.  They are working when they could be sitting at home, not aggravating me, and still collecting a check for it.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Giving a Little Extra

A patient attacked a staff member on a ward I was covering.

I let the male staff perform the physical break up of the altercation.

The nurse came to me with the doctor's stat order:  two milligrams of lorazepam (Ativan) and 5 milligrams of haloperidol (Haldol).

"IM?" I asked hopefully.  (Injections.)

"No, PO," he sighed.  (Oral.)

That's not enough to calm down an agitated big guy who has already thrown punches.

I grabbed the lorazepam and asked where they keep their extra Haldol tablets.

"Give liquid Haldol in juice," he said.  "And make it a Nursing Dose."

I smiled.  Yes, we do this.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Glad to be away from Psycho Nurse

My assignment one day was to check charts on the ward where Nurse Fortune was gracing her presence.  I survived.  I’m proud.  I did have flashbacks to our prior horrible years, where I felt hostage to her wrath.

She watched me in the chart room the entire time.  Non-stop complaining on her end.

Politics:  “Your President” she kept stating, as if I alone decide on the president of the country and people who complain don’t have him as president.

Work:  “I know so much about all these patients, it makes me sick.  Nobody else knows what they are doing.”

Family:  “How can they say that my son is a behavioral problem?  Oh, he yells and talks back.  He fights.  He doesn’t listen.  He doesn’t do the work.  Not my son.  I mean, where would he learn that behavior?  Not from me.  If that’s what he does in school, which I don’t believe, then he learned it at school so they should take a serious look at themselves.”

I feel bad for any child of hers.  She’s a jerk.  She’s the only one who doesn’t see her behavior and attitude reflected in her child.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


I am moving out of my current spot and getting a desk elsewhere in the building, according to Nurse Sally.  She seems nice.

I have endured three years in my current spot.  Three seems to be my limit for anything.

What she is calling a desk is one table in a large hallway.  Other people occupy other tables.  "My desk" is currently a repository of papers, binders, and boxes.

Part of the problem is that this table is adjacent to the nursing staffing people.  It will be too easy for them to be scrambling for coverage and find their solution in Nurse Enid, "who is just sitting there, doing nothing."  Unlike the other office nurses, I'm classified as a floor nurse.

Another issue is that I keep all of my current duties, plus extra as added by Nurse Sally.  Not sure when I get to sit at my new table/desk, which is nowhere near where I need to be to schedule appointments, procedures, and to do rounds with doctors.

The other issue is that someone, such as Nurse Fortune, could find out, flip out, claiming I'm getting a cushy deal, and file a complaint with our union.  Even though Nurse Sally seems nice, she is powerless against Nurse Fortune and the union.

I did some paperwork from the charts as requested.  When I handed it to Nurse Sally, she said to give it to her secretary.  Her secretary occupies one of the tables near my new table.

The secretary glared at me when I handed her the papers.  (I had the foresight and experience to make copies first.)  "Listen," she started, "Don't go thinking that you are going to make more work for me."

"Sally told to research these issues and fill out these forms and give them to you," I explained.  "That was my assignment."

"Well," she huffed, "You could have said 'no'."

"Actually, I'm not in a position to refuse an assignment," I tried.

"So because you do whatever anyone tells you, now I have more work?" she sneered.  "Does that seem right to you?"

This is a hopeless cycle everywhere in this hospital.

"Take your own advice and refuse to do it," I told the secretary.

"I didn't ask you to tell me what to do, thank you very much," she snapped.  "Let's get that straight right now.  You don't tell me what to do.  You don't give me work.  You are not my supervisor.  Don't even speak to me.  Got it?"

I left and returned to my previous (or current?) work area.  There, I realized that no provisions were made for my addition to that department.  The "desk" I used varied from day to day and was a table or counter where I could spread out papers to work on them.  My supervisor and the other employees had cabinets dedicated to their personal stuff, while she told me that I could not keep anything in the office, including pens I needed to write with.

If people ask, I'll tell them that there was not enough work in my current department to justify two nurses, so I was reassigned.

I will not allow myself to get excited about this move because it may not happen.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

That's Okay

I had to cover a unit, which involved the narc count.  The process was a lot more involved than I remembered.

"Oh, someone lost some pills," the nurse explained.

"Who?" I asked.

She smiled.  There was more than one nurse and they were all favored children.

"If you or I did that, we'd be sitting in jail right now," I said.

The other nurse shook her head in agreement.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Drawing a Line

The nurse whose office I sometimes cover joined a meeting, late, and plopped herself down next to me.

In front of me was only a notebook, upon which I was fervidly writing my grocery list.

This nurse spread her pile of papers into my space and onto my notebook, over my hand and pen.  This was no accident.

What was the proper response?  She was pushing me and I had to push back.

I placed my arm on the table and mushed her papers back into her area.

This startled her, but she didn't put the papers back onto me and my area.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Another Hat I Wear

I don't understand the fixation on my wearing a hat.

I am not the only person who wears a hat.  There is nothing unusual about my hat.  I wear a warm hat in the cold and a hat with a brim when it's sunny.

"There you are in your hat!" one of the orderlies cooed in the parking lot.

I stared at her.  For the record, she is not well-balanced.

"Oh!  That's right.  You said there's a reason why you wear it."  She paused, trying to think.  "To protect your heart!" she declared.

"My eyes!" I corrected her.

"Your eyes?" she said, confused.  "How would a hat protect your eyes?  And what would your eyes need protection from?"

"The sun," I answered.

Still confused.  "But we need the sun," she tried.  "That can't be why you would wear a hat."

"Sure it is," I insisted.  "How could a hat protect someone's heart?"

"How would I know?" she answered.  "You're the one who is wearing the hat."

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Maybe She's Just Not a Nice Person

A social worker asked me if the secretary who retired is actually gone.

“Yes,” I responded.

“Oh good!” she squealed.  “That woman was so rude and nasty.”

Someone else joined in.  “Yeah!  I thought it was just me.  This whole time I thought that I did something bad to her.  I’m so glad to hear that’s just how she was.”

Me too.  She was super nice to my supervisor, but that was to secure favors.  Everyone else was worth nothing to her, so she showed them her ugly side.

 A social worker asked me if the secretary who retired is actually gone.

“Yes,” I responded.

“Oh good!” she squealed.  “That woman was so rude and nasty.”

Someone else joined in.  “Yeah!  I thought it was just me.  This whole time I thought that I did something bad to her.  I’m so glad to hear that’s just how she was.”

Me too.  She was super nice to our supervisor, but that was to secure favors.  Everyone else was worth nothing to her, so she showed them her ugly side.

Friday, June 9, 2017

All Eyes on Me

I escorted a new admission to the secured ward where Nurse Helen was assigned.

As soon as she saw the patient and me, she started crying to the supervisor who was nearby, "Why can't Enid do it?  She has no work.  It's not fair.  She does nothing.  Tell her to do the admission!"

Meanwhile, another horrible nurse started calling my name from across the room.  "Enid!  Enid!  Enid!"  I looked over at her.  "Can you let me into this room?"

"You don't have a key?" I shouted back.

"I forgot it inside this room," she responded.

"Why are you asking me?" I continued the game.  "There are at least five orderlies in between you and me.  Why can't one of them let you into the room?"

She said nothing.

"Why can't the people inside that room let you back in?" I continued.  "Are you telling me that you knocked on the door and everyone inside ignored you?"

Of course she hadn't knocked on the door or asked someone next to the door to let her in.  Just like Nurse Helen, she could focus only on me.


But I was proud of myself for holding my ground.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Careless Planning

I'm getting good at seeing the nonsense for what it is.

Some of the higher-ups met with me and said I was (finally) being moved out of my current department.  I requested this last year when my supervisor staged a set-up to get me fired.

Let's not get excited.  I've heard this before.

The Details:  There is no time frame for this move, but my new assignments begin immediately, while my existing workload will remain my responsibility.

"So this is adding more work and not actually granting my request for a transfer?" I asked to confirm.

They fidgeted.  "Well," one of them offered, "You are so great at what you do, so we need you to advise us on modifying care plans."

"What does that mean?" I asked.

"Give suggestions on how to improve them," was the answer.

I didn't prolong the meeting.  Whatever they want from me, they won't say directly.

Later I bumped into the secretary of one of the women from the meeting.

"Did they tell you that they expect you to fix every care plan?" she asked.

"Not in those words," I answered.

"Yeah, we had a meeting earlier today and someone suggested that you be given the assignment of doing care plans because the nurses aren't filling them out or updating them," she explained.  "They said, 'Get Enid involved.  She loves to fix things.'"

They spoke as if I would be altering the format of the care plans, not actually doing them myself.  That's what they meant by 'modify.'  Writing the content of the care plans for each individual patient. This is not possible.  I don't know each patient.  There are hundreds of patients.  The nurses taking care of the patient have to write the care plan based on the individual patient's needs and goals and update them when a new problem arises.

They are sneaky.  They did the same thing with emergency services, first pretending that they wanted me to improve the policy when all they wanted was for me to take blame for incidents.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Nope. Not Happening.

During a meeting, someone asked the medical director if he was planning to confer with the psychologist handling a patient's case.

"No," he said, nonchalantly, shaking his head, "I don't speak to psychotic people masquerading as doctors."

Wow.  I wish this were an option for me!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sure, I'll Do That Person's Job Too

Someone asked me if the retired secretary’s position had been filled yet because she wanted it.

“Not that I know of,” I replied.  “The hospital has not been filling empty positions, but rather distributing the work to others.  They will probably give her workload to me.”

“How can they put more work on you when you already do so much!” the person gasped.

“Oh, thank you for noticing!” I answered.

(The departed secretary didn’t do much and they keep adding to my responsibilities, so this is a strong possibility.  My supervisor will embrace the idea.)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Minds Already Lost

On a breezy, sunny day, I walked through the parking lot, holding onto the hat on my head.

Inside, an employee asked me why I was holding my head outside, “As if your head would come off!” she laughed.

“My hat,” I explained.  “My hat would blow off my head.”

“Why would your hat blow away?” she asked, genuinely confused.

“Because of the wind,” I explained.  Did she just land on planet earth?

She did not understand.

The next day, an employee who was present for the above exchanged approached me.

“You know,” she said, “I was walking outside and it was windy.  I noticed that I put my hand on my head so that my wig would not blow off!”

I stared at her.

“I thought it was strange when I heard that you had your hand on your head because you thought your hat would blow away.  But now I realize that I do the same thing!”  She seemed quite proud of herself for connecting her reaction to a stimulus.

How could people have so little self awareness?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Breaking the Cycle

When you are so exposed to bad behavior you can sense it coming
I joined a friend at her place of work on her lunch break.  She can’t leave, but she can have visitors.  Some of her coworkers joined us.

A woman marched herself through our group, loudly clapping and shouting, “Come on!  Get to the conference room for the celebratory lunch!  I’m starving!”

One of the women stood up to follow.

“We already stopped in,” my friend said as she motioned for the coworker to sit back down.

The interrupting woman grabbed the arm of the person about to sit, shouting, “I have to talk to you NOW.  In private.”

“Let go of her!” my friend snapped.  “We are on our lunch break.  You can meet with her after lunch.  I thought you said you were ‘starving’.”

The woman looked around the group and left.

“Should we have gone with her?” someone asked.

“No,” I said.  “I recognized the bullying based on my own workplace.  She wants to break up any cohesion.”  I turned to the woman who had stood to follow, the one who was grabbed and pulled.  

“You appeared to be the weakest because you obeyed her order to leave, then someone else’s order to sit.  So she upped her abuse by putting her hands on you to see how far she could push you without you pushing back.  She crossed a bold line.  Yell at her to take her hands off you.”

“I’m not strong.  I can’t do this,” the woman replied.

“I know,” I said.  “It’s not easy.  Later, find her when she is seated, and with some witnesses, remain standing and calmly tell her that she is never to put her hands on you again.  Don’t wait for her response, which will be acting shocked and claiming that you are lying.  Depart immediately, leaving an image in the witnesses’ minds of her attacking you.”

Good or bad advice?

I want to make it clear that I do not blame the victim.  She seemed weaker and that is why she was chosen.  But the aggressor chose to attack.  We were all in the room with this more susceptible person and we did not attack her.  She was bullied because the perpetrator thought she could get away with it.  Normal people don't go around attacking vulnerable people.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Don't Know How She Does It

I covered an office so that one of the administrative nurses could get ready for an event at the hospital.  The position requires heavy phone time.

Other administrative nurses (how come some people are saddled with back-breaking work while others get to play all day?) crowded into the office, giggling and shouting and otherwise making it impossible for me to hear on the phone, nevermind concentrate.  The workload was heavier than usual because the secretary was out sick.

One of the nurses commented, “I’m so glad your secretary isn’t here.  We could never have done this with HER in here.”

That was it.  They wouldn’t dare do this to the secretary, but I am what?  Garbage to be disregarded?

“Ladies,” I shouted over their loud bantering, “I can’t hear on the phone.  Please!”

The nurse whose office it was replied, “Well, that is how it is.  This is a busy hospital.  If you can’t cope, you’ll never get far.”

“Your noise level is not reflective of the hospital’s busyness, but rather your lack of work.” 

They stared at me, surprised.

“Why am I in here, trying to do your work, while you sit there, chit chatting?  I have my own assignments to complete.”  Then I threw in the magic words to get them out.  “I’ll go work on a floor until you are ready to actually leave for the event.”

The nurse whose office it was shooed the rest out.  “We all have work to do,” she said to me.

“So do it,” I said.

I could only get away with this because this particular nurse is so incompetent that senior management has taken notice.  She reports me every time I cover her office, so management has to review my performance.  Every Damn Time.  They told me that I am much better at the job than she is.  This does not matter because they will never bump her out of her high-paying position and give it to me.  Our salaries are in the union contract, so this is how I know that she earns almost double what I do.

The woman left eventually.

When I returned from lunch, she was in the office, staring into space.  “Oh, this doctor called for you.  Here is his number.”

The torn piece of paper did not have enough digits to be a phone number.  “What did he want?” I asked.

“How would I know?” she asked, bewildered.  “You are the one working in this office today.”

This woman is impossible.

“Let me get this straight,” I started.  “This is your full-time position.  I am covering for you today, even though you are in the office.  A doctor calls.  You know what he wants because you work on his caseload.  But instead of answering his question, you tell him that I will call him back.  I can’t help him.  I would have to waste time looking through the piles of papers, hoping to find the patient he’s calling about.  Even if I found the patient’s file, I still couldn’t help the doctor because you don’t put notes on anything, so I have no clue about the status of any file in this office.  And you think that was an appropriate response you gave to the doctor?  Why did you answer the phone if you had no intention of assisting the caller?”

She couldn’t follow all these words.  “Well, just make sure you call him back.  You shouldn’t keep him waiting.”

And she’s the one who commands a high salary and her own office.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Burning Bridges

Burning bridges
I ran into the retiring woman on her last day.

“It’s the last time you have to see her,” I told myself.

“I hope you enjoy your retirement,” I said to her.

“Retirement?” she retorted.

My heart sank.  Had I misunderstood?  Did I have to keep seeing her every day?

“How can I retire on the meager pension they offer here?” she sneered.  “We aren’t all made of money like you.”

Ah yes.  This prevalent misconception that I am independently wealthy and work at the hospital merely to take a salary away from a needy person.

I let it slide, concentrating on my future without this particular person.

“I had to retire from this job because my daughter has to return to work so soon after having a baby,” she quipped.

Oh- she is upset about a family situation but projecting her anger onto me instead.

“I didn’t know.  Congratulations on the new baby!” I said.

“Yeah, right,” she continued.  “You’ve been spreading my business all over this hospital for years and now you’re gonna stand there and tell me you didn’t know my daughter had a baby.  BULL SHIT.”

Once the cursing started, I figured I was justified in walking away.  Or cursing back, but we were within earshot of witnesses, who would later recall only my transgressions.

This caught me by surprise.  I knew the conversation was sliding downhill fast and that I couldn’t rescue it, but I was not expecting this.  This is why she has been so nasty to me over the years?  She thinks I spread her business around the hospital?

First, I don’t know her or her business.  I know her name and that she has some adult children, but that is all.  Second, I barely talk to anyone unless I have to about hospital business.

And what would make her interesting to talk about?

Good riddance.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

I Nothing You

One of the administrative nurses, Natalie, tried dumping a hopeless paperwork project on me.  Only my direct supervisor is my boss, so the technique is for the dumper to command me through my supervisor.

“Oh just do it and hush!” my supervisor told me.

Well, I didn’t.

My supervisor and/or Natalie reported me to one of the big wigs, who ambushed me one afternoon.

I remained calm.  I briefly explained that I do not work in the department that is claiming that I did not do an assignment.

The big wig appeared disinterested.  “Oh, okay, so don’t do their work then,” she grumbled, and left.

That went well? I wondered.

Soon Natalie called.  “I understand that you did not do the assignment and that you are upset with me,” she started.  “This is only paperwork.  There is nothing to get emotional about.”

This place has taught me how to twist a story as well.  “I have no emotional connection to you,” I responded coldly.

She fumbled for words.  “Oh, well, I mean, you are upset about the paperwork,” she tried.

“I have no emotional connection to any inanimate object,” I replied, colder than before.

Logical, right?  If I have no emotional connection to a living person, then how could I to a non-living thing?

“So are you going to do the paperwork, or not?” Natalie continued.

“No,” I answered firmly.

She started huffing.  “It needs to get done.  I have too much work.  You can do it.  You have nothing to do.  You can do it fast if you wanted to.  You make problems for people.”

I interrupted her.  “Natalie, you sound upset and emotional.  I’m going to let you stop here so you can gain control over yourself.”

Then I hung up. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

No Invitation for the Outsider

My department held a party for the secretary who is retiring.

I found out afterwards from pictures on FaceBook.  People outside the department were invited.

They kept this so hush-hush that I did not know in advance.  This scares me.  They could be actively planning their next attack on me and I would have no clue.

The next day, I wanted to hear their reactions when I asked if we were going to have a retirement celebration for the secretary.  "Will it be at a restaurant, or will it be here?  If it's here, I'll bake cookies or cupcakes in her favorite flavor."  This was my line.

The person who works closest with the retiree blushed and looked down.  "Oh, she doesn't want any fuss.  Definitely no party."  She would not make eye contact with me.

"I see," I replied.

I sprinted to my immediate supervisor, Linda, before the first one could tip her off.

"Are we having a retirement celebration?" I asked.

She looked at me as if I were crazy.  She didn't have to fumble for words.  "We already went out and celebrated her retirement.  Why would we do that twice?" she sneered, not even concerned that I was left out.

"I didn't know that you already had a party," I replied, trying to sound hurt.

"That's because you were not invited," she snapped, never stopping to shuffle her piles of papers.


Working as an outsider is not an unfamiliar situation to me, but it is stressful.  They can ban together and have me ousted.  My friend told me to not worry, that they tried that before; I prevailed then and I will prevail if it happens again.

If they replace the woman who is leaving (as opposed to dumping her tasks on me), maybe that person will not side with the crowd against me.  They don't like new people, so that could be my strategy to align with the new secretary- offering her the only friendly hand she'll see in that place.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Consistent Misbehavior

Nursing is a small world.  You might leave a job, but you can never leave all of your coworkers behind at that job.

I was shopping at a food store (essentials only- no spare cash here) when I bumped into a nurse I worked with a lifetime ago.  We reviewed who died since we last saw each other.

Then we declared where we currently worked.  She asked if I work with Nurse Helen.  I confirmed.  We both smiled.  I said, "I wondered where else Helen worked.  She would never tell me.  Does she work there every day?  Because that is her excuse for needing to leave early every day," I said.

The other nurse smiled.  "No, she doesn't work with us every day.  As a matter of fact, she always has to leave early," the other nurse informed me.

"Is she always on her phone?" I asked.

"Yes!" the other nurse joked.  "And she shirks all responsibility."

"Same when she is with me!" I laughed.

It's good to have this information.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Playing Fast and Loose

I was coordinating the transfer of a patient to a secure ward when I hit a snag.  The hospital requires the vital signs in writing; not given orally over the telephone.

"He refuses," the other nurse said, as if that settled the matter.

"No vitals, no transfer," I asserted.

One of the reasons for requiring vitals is that the patient has to be able-bodied to be admitted to psych.

Eventually the vitals were faxed.  The page was blank except for four numbers.  No patient name.  The date was "today."  Literally "today."  No month, day, or year.  The health care provider was "doctor."  Literally "doctor."  No name.  No signature.

I refused the paper and told them to print the vitals from their computer system.  Psych does not have access and does not use the computer system, hence the fax requirement.

They faxed a printout.  Blurry.  Grainy.  Not a single word or number could be deciphered.

I faxed it back to them.  They claimed that my fax machine messed it up.

After I told them I was skipping to the next patient for the only bed available, magically the vitals were printed and faxed clearly.

The patient arrived healthy.  His behavior, however, resembled nothing of the angel described in the notes.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Played Like a Fool

I confronted the supervisor who scheduled me to work on Sunday.  "Why did the weekend supervisor claim to not know that I was supposed to work?" I asked.

At first, she acted fed up and said, "Of course they knew!  I am so sick of these people!"

Then she motioned me into her office.

"Listen," she ordered.  "You were not on the schedule.  You were on standby IN CASE somebody called out."

"I was not on standby," I corrected her.  "You told me you were short even with my addition to the schedule."

"Yeah, well," she whistled through her mouth, "You were actually an extra nurse because someone usually calls out.  Nobody called out, so you were lucky that the supervisor let you stay."

"I canceled my plans because you said you were 'so short' and 'desperate' and that I 'need to help on the weekends every now and then'.  That was all a lie?" I asked.

She gave me a dirty look.  "I said what I needed to say to get you to agree to come in.  If you don't like it, well, honey, welcome to the real world.  Get over it."

I was pissed.  I felt duped.  She was saying that it was my fault she had to lie to get me to do what she wanted me to do.  Of course I would not cancel my plans and sit and home and wait in case they called me to come in.  There is no paid on-call arrangement.

"Don't ever ask me to cover an extra shift or switch my day off again," I said.

"Oh, now you're just being petty," she groaned.

"Welcome to the real world," I said and left.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Remind Me to Never Again Work an Extra Shift

I am never picking up an extra shift again.  Ever.

Earlier in the week, the shift supervisor asked me to cover the first shift on Sunday because so many people had already asked to be off.

I take a fitness class on Sunday mornings, which I had to cancel.  Never cancel plans for this place.

I thought I was being smart by asking to be off one day during the week in return for working Sunday.  “So it actually doesn’t count against you as overtime,” I explained to the supervisor, who eagerly agreed.

She confirmed with me on Friday that I was working Sunday and told me that I was covering for Nurse Anna.  I took the additional step of contacting Nurse Anna, who was surprised to hear that her request to be off had been granted.

Saturday morning, as I tried to sleep in, my phone buzzed and buzzed with work calling.  I have learned to not answer when they call to force them to leave a voice message as proof.

They were in a state of confusion, as usual, and said that they did not understand why Nurse Anna was claiming that she would be off on Sunday and I was covering when I was not on the schedule.

I called back and spoke to the supervisor, confirming that I was working and Nurse Anna was to be off.

On Sunday morning, as I arrived to work with Nurse Anna.  “Why are you here?” we both asked.

“They said you were not coming and that I had better show up,” Anna explained.

She should have fled instead of coming inside the building.  We went to her ward and began working. 

Half an hour into the shift, Nurse Marie came in.  She is the nurse who complained that I takeeveryone’s money, even though I am already rich.  (Anyone who is independently wealthy but chooses to work in this hell hole is an idiot.)

Immediately she started screaming that I was stealing overtime, I am greedy, and that I should learn how to manage my money better so that I don’t have to take other people’s money when they really need it.  She screamed at Nurse Anna.  She called the supervisor and screamed at him.  Then she left the ward, declaring to staff and patients alike, “I am leaving.  Unlike that greedy woman, I am not so hungry that I would take food out of a baby’s mouth.”

Nurse Anna and I felt relieved that the cyclone left.

Soon afterwards, she returned with the supervisor.  “Nurse Mueller,” the supervisor said to me, “You cannot just walk in here and take someone’s job.  That is not right and you know it.”

“I was asked to work and assigned this ward,” I explained.

“No, there is no record of what you say,” he countered.

“Yes, I have several voicemail recordings on my phone,” I volleyed back.

This took him a moment to think of a reply.  “Even so, we did not know if you were coming to work or not, so the shift goes to a more reliable nurse.”

“When have I ever not come to work?” I tried.  “Since when am I unreliable?”

“This shift was promised to Nurse Marie, so you must let her work,” he decided.

“Fine,” I replied.  “But Nurse Anna wanted off, and the shift was also promised to me, so instead of letting me go, how about you let Nurse Anna go?”

The supervisor was confused.  “You are not going.  We need you on another ward.”

Of course.  The busiest, highest acuity ward with lazy staff.  I passed medications the entire shift.  That is why Nurse Marie rejected that ward and wanted to switch with me.  And her wish was granted.

They did allow Nurse Anna to leave a little early.  But I was sent to cover for her.  “Oh no,” I warned the supervisor.  “You are sending me back there because there is no relief.  I will be mandated to stay over for the next shift, while Nurse Marie gets to prance out of here.”

“That would never happen!” the supervisor lied.

“It happened to two nurses yesterday!” I snapped back.

“We have coverage!” he insisted.

“I know how it works around here,” I continued.  “You hold the shifts open until your buddies decide if they want the overtime or not.  If they do, great.  If not, no problem.  You just mandate the prior shift to stay.  This move is so transparent- transferring me to a ward at the end of the shift just to mandate me another shift- that I will have an excellent claim against this hospital for violation of labor laws.  Plus, I’m covering two offices tomorrow and will gladly call out sick with a doctor’s note for exhaustion.”

He probably didn’t understand a word I said.

The supervisor later returned to the ward to make sure that I was transferring.  As I handed him the keys to the ward, he was surprised.  “What is this?”

“The keys.  You are the only nurse on the floor until someone returns from lunch,” I explained as I walked away.

“You can’t leave this ward unattended!” he called after me.

“I’m not.  You are here and are ordering me to go babysit another nurse on another ward,” I answered.

“Where are the nurses for this ward?” he asked.

“Out to lunch, as I already told you.  But we can’t leave your princess all alone, so I have to go over there to work while she sits on her phone,” I explained and left.

I ignored Nurse Marie the remainder of the shift.  Patients kept coming up to me, asking me for things, saying that Nurse Marie had refused them all day.  Oh well.

The next shift did arrive, late of course, but I was relieved of my duties.  When they saw Nurse Anna’s name on the report, they asked why she wasn’t there.

“She left early because she was supposed to have off,” I explained.

“But she came in anyway?” one of them gasped.  “That bitch.  She did that to steal your overtime, you know that, right?”

I stared at her and then walked out.