Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Airing Dirty Linen

The housekeeper yelled at me.

Why is this so upsetting?

It was a misunderstanding.  The bin of used linen was full.  It never contains anything because we never use linen in my area, only disposable.

But today I was out of disposable table covers.  I needed linen for a few different patients, so the linen bin filled up.  It was not overflowing.  (Getting supplies is a very slow process.)

I cleaned the room myself.  I always do because it will not get cleaned otherwise.  It’s not a big deal if the linen bin does not get emptied.  I would do it myself the next day.

In this facility, the approach I have with people is: If they choose to do their job, great.  If not, their job falls on me.  I have no recourse at this point.

Housekeeping does not clean my area or empty the trash cans.  I have been doing this myself for years.  I didn’t empty the linen because it was time for me to leave and it would be waiting for me the next morning.  Just like the trash can or any spills.  Nothing unusual.

The housekeeper arrived at the end of my shift and stared at the full bin of linen.  “What happened in here?” he asked.

“Oh, we used a few sheets today.  We don’t usually, but today we did,” I answered.

That’s when he started yelling.  In front of a bunch of people, including my supervisor.

“You don’t have to tell me to clean.  I always do my job.  Who do you think you are, telling me something needs cleaning?  I clean every night!  I don’t need you telling me what to do.  I’m getting out of here!  I don’t have to take this abuse!” and he pushed his cart down the hallway and out of sight as quickly as the overburdened wheels could go.

I never know what to say when this happens.  Inside my head, I’m thinking that this makes sense.  I am an awful person.  I thought we had a decent working relationship, but in reality, I was being horrible and he was letting it slide until now.

My supervisor had to make this into a bigger deal.  “What did you do to upset him so much?” she announced in front of the crowd.

“I don’t know,” I whispered.  “I didn’t intend any harm.”

She continued in a raised voice, “You see, this is your problem.  You don’t worry about how your words will hurt other people.”

The entire way home I thought about ways I could retreat more into my shell at work.  Barely speak, yet not appear to be condescendingly ignoring people.

I compartmentalize.  Leave this behind at work.  Leave it behind in the moment it happened.  But this is still bothering me.  Maybe writing this story will help me put it to rest.


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