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.