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.

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