Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My Life Is A Comedy Of Errors, At Times

So i was walking out of a meeting with my boss, the driver supervisor (I think of us as the Estrogen Triad, since the top three positions in my lab are taken by females, and most major decisions are made by a consensus of the three of us) and our errant new hire. Let me stop myself right here and give the background story leading up to this meeting.

A month ago, we found out we were going to double our business volume. We set out to hire another technician for first run and Saturdays. After several disappointing candidates, in walked. . . let's call her Mandy. This girl gave a FANTASTIC interview! We (the Estrogen Triad) stressed to her that the shift we're hiring for was a midnight shift, where 70% of the day's work is done. "No problem, i WANT to work midnights", she replies. We did all we could to make this job sound like the worst one in the world, but she still wanted it. She was poised, mature, had great credentials. . . All in all, she really seemed like she had her shit together! Her interview lasted about an hour, and try as we might, we just couldn't find anything wrong with her. We hired her twenty minutes later, on a Friday.

She couldn't start right away, she needed to give her current job two weeks notice. Fine! She could work on her off-days if she wanted, or just start in two weeks. She opted to work on her off days to get a jump start on her training. Yay, initiative!! So she showed up for her first day of work, which was the following Tuesday and informed us that she just found out Saturday that she's pregnant. Oh, great. After getting a closer look at her, you could tell she was much farther along than she claimed to be. I'd stake my left leg on the fact that she was desperate to get a job with insurance before the end of her first trimester hit.

Okay, so she lied about the pregnancy. I didn't really hold it against her because, hey, who wouldn't? I mean, that isn't the sort of thing you can throw out in an interview and expect to still get hired. I don't like being lied to, but i could understand why she did it. Okay, no problem. I spent the rest of the day giving her a tour of the lab and explaining in detail what it is we do. She asked lots of questions, and they were good, valid questions.

Somehow during the process, we got off topic and she was telling me some stuff about her life. It happens. So i tried to steer us back to her training (I'm really not so stiff that i can't hold a conversation while training, but she was telling me some stuff that was more than a little personal, and i just don't like knowing the intimate details of someone's life when i just met them), and she glossed over my transition like she didn't even hear it. I tried again, a little more obviously this time, and she just kept carrying on. Finally, annoyed, i asked her if she was even listening to me. She blinked a couple of times and replied that she was. I was like, Okay, and i kept on. She looked like she was back on track, and i relaxed back into my teaching. A few minutes later, it happened again, so i gently reminded her that i had a lot to teach her and not much time to do it in. She replied that it doesn't matter if i teach her anything today or not, because she's just going to forget it by next Wednesday anyway. Now, while that may be true, i really don't think it's a good idea on your first day of work to literally tell your trainer not to bother with training because you're not going to remember.

Now, at this point, i was more than a little irritated. So i told her to hold that thought, and i walked out to the office supply drawer and got her a pad of paper and a pen. I walked back into the lab, thrust them at her, and told her to take notes if she was concerned about retaining the information i was giving her. That seem to give her a reality check, and i didn't have any more problems with her the rest of the day.

Next Wednesday came and went without incident.

Her full time status started the following Monday. Monday she arrived before i did, and instead of putting on a labcoat and going in, she waited for me to arrive (and did that for the rest of the week). From that moment forward, she followed me around like a lost dog. At first i didn't think anything of it, because i had a lot to teach her. I have a typical training regimen i follow to not bombard a new person with more information and procedure than they can process, so i gave her the first day of training and turned her loose. Instead of doing what i asked her to do, she continued following me around, gabbing about everything from her son's baseball games to how she met her boyfriend, to why she decided to apply for medicaid. Basically, a bunch of shit i really didn't want to hear. So i let her follow me around, and i just started explaining in great detail everything that i was doing, figuring that if she was going to follow me around, she was at least going to be productive. Eventually she went and did as i asked her to.

By Thursday, i was ready to drop kick her across the room. It was obvious she wasn't retaining anything i was teaching her, and in spite of a list of things i'd given her to do, she never seemed to know what she should be doing, so she defaulted to sitting on her ass and tagging prescriptions. She was complaining about her back and feet hurting, about how she hasn't had a full time job in over a year, and she isn't used to standing eight hours a day, blah blah blah. She was mad about having to work on Saturdays, even though we TOLD her several times in the interview that's what she was being hired for.

Friday rolled around and she said to me (sitting in a chair while i tried in vain for the fifth time to explain package check-in procedure), "I don't know if i'm gonna be able to hang for much longer". "What do you mean?", i asked her. "Well, my feet and back are already killing me, and i don't think it's my shoes. It's only going to get worse as my pregnancy progresses. Besides, who knows how much longer i'll be able to reach around the L-block?". I was SEETHING! The bitch who's been here less than a week was basically informing me that she won't be able to do the job she was supposedly so excited to start doing. I told her she needed to talk to Roz. She looks dubiously at me and says, "Well, let's just wait and see what happens". I was like, "Well, what do you mean by that?! If you have doubts about the job, you need to go talk to her." She just looked at me. Then it hit me: She planned on riding out her 90 days, and then dropping that nugget to Roz, after we couldn't let her go for no reason. So i smiled at her and continued talking to her, then marched out to Roz's office and told her what Mandy'd just told me. Roz told me she'd call HR and see what they had to say about it.

Monday rolls around, and Roz pulls me and G and Mandy into the office. She gives Mandy two options: Pull her head out of her ass and start learning her technician duties, or take a $3/hour pay cut and stay on as a driver. She told her we weren't paying her to sit in a chair and tag prescriptions for eight hours a day. Mandy looked at me and said "You told her, didn't you?" I was like, "You're damn right i did! You sat there and told me you're not going to be able to work much longer. . . Who do you think is gonna get stuck doing your job for you when you decide you've had enough??" She just glowered at me and said "I trusted you". "You shouldn't trust the person you plan to screw over with your plans to screw them over", i replied. So she asked for a few days to think it over, and Roz asked her to make her decision by Wednesday. So we got up and walked out of the room. (Incidentally, she opted to quit today).

I had a bottle of water i'd been drinking on all day, and i took a swig as i was leaving the meeting. For some reason, my air passage didn't close itself off as i went to swallow the mouthful of water i had. It went right down into my lungs. I spat the water out reflexively, thinking to myself how embarrassing it would be to be the first person to drown in a bottle of water, coughing violently. I was finally able to breathe, but ever since then, i've had this drop of water stuck in my throat that i can't cough up or swallow. My voice is gone and my throat's all sore from a day and a half of unproductive coughing. I swear i'm the most uncoordinated person in the world.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

. . .Go On When I Close My Eyes

Jim and i were walking past this big building with maybe 200 steps leading up to it. It was a dark brown hexagonal building mostly, with wings of traditional rectangle branching off of it in three places. I wanted to go inside, but Jim didn't, so i went up there myself. The doors were thrown open as though it were a public building, so i went right in. In the vestibule was a little shoppe that sold broken things. Mugs with handles broken off, dolls with limbs missing, chess sets with missing queens, plants in broken pots with the soil spilling off and carefully collected in dixie cups that surrounded them like little satellites. The shoppe was very dark inside, which i found odd because the ceiling was one big skylight. When i looked up, i could see that the glass was obscured by plants with huge fronds, so that the sunlight that made it through fell dappled to the ground in sparse patches. I walked past all this, and through the checkout lines toward the main part of the building. When i went inside, i realized it was a house with an arboretum. I went inside to look around, and found myself in the kitchen. The kitchen was done in blacks and dark greens, with the same ceiling as the shoppe. I looked around, but couldn't find the source of the fronds obscuring the light. Looking at the walls, i realized the fronds weren't growing out of plants, but directly out of the walls. Once i realised this, vines crept down from the heights of the ceiling and stopped at eye level with me. At the end of the vines were pods, which opened up and contained small black eyes. I thought they went perfectly with the decor and stood there while they judged me silently. If things went badly for me in their estimation, i would end up an object for sale in the shoppe of broken things. I looked down and saw that my left hand didn't quite look real. When i gave it a tug, it came off in my right hand. I supposed i would fit in there after all. After an eternity, it seemed, the false hand i was holding decayed to dust, and my left hand returned to my arm complete, and it was clutching a set of keys. I knew that the house was now mine, and i was both ecstatic and very sad at the same time, knowing that this was my true home where i belonged, and that i'd never be able to leave it again. Looking back at the kitchen, i noticed something gleaming white, which didn't belong in a black and dark green kitchen. I walked over to it and realized it was my portable Maytag dishwasher i'd ordered for my old house. I was both annoyed and gleeful at the same time, because it didn't match, but i now had two dishwashers, in case i needed to wash a bunch of dishes all at once. The vines followed me, intertwining and weaving themselves around me, caressing my cheeks with their pods, and urging me forward, encouraging me to forget the last relic of my previous life. I knew when i looked away, the dishwasher would be gone, and so my memory of it as well.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

These Dreams

There was an auditor in my lab, and everyone was extra nervous. Usually an auditor's presence is enough to make us all nervous, but we had an extra reason this time. In our I-131 compounding room, we had this temperature controlled foot locker thing that we didn't want him to see. So the auditor finished his work and left, and i asked one of the pharmacists, "Why don't we want him to know about the locker?". So John pulls it out, and i ask if it's radioactive. He said it was, and it was heavily shielded. Then he brought out this special camera and put it up against the footlocker and told me to look. So i looked inside, and there was a living, pulsing, working liver! I looked up at him and asked wtf we were doing with a liver. He moved the camera all the way down the length of the box, and that's when i saw it wasn't just a liver, it was the entire right-hand side of a man, from skull to right leg. He was cut directly in half, and being kept alive inside this temperature controlled radioactive footlocker. I was like, "Keeping body parts isn't on our NRC license, is it?" And John shook his head and walked off. Overcome by curiosity, Courtney and i decide to open it up. When we did, we originally thought the guy was covered in this red tissue paper to help preserve him, but then we realize that the temperature control that was supposed to keep him cold had failed, and he was at normal temperature and the radiation had burned off all his skin. As soon as i realised this, i also knew that exposing him to the room air would kill him because of all the microbes and stuff. So i slammed the locker shut in a panic, torn between the desire to tell John that the temperature control had failed and the man was going to die (but if i did that, he'd know i'd opened it) and just keeping quiet about it so that my tampering wouldn't be discovered.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

My Dear Liar,

I won't get into the specifics here, but someone close to me has lied to me again. This is a person i usually defend to his parents and go out of my way to be kind to because i feel like he has seen too much unkindness in his life, especially at the hands of his extended family. He puts on a pretty good face of being a responsible person (i'm pretty sure he was, at one point in his life), and it was difficult to trust him again after the last time i caught him lying to me.

So what do i do now? I asked him a very straightforward question, and he outright lied to me. He's a big fan of playing with semantics and technicalities, but there were no semantics for him to play with. I don't know how to treat him now. I mean, i hate to sound like one of those "After all i've done for you" kind of people, but that's really how i'm feeling.

So, if you're reading this, i want you to know it'll be a long time before i trust you again. Don't you dare get impatient with me, because you've brought this on yourself. Don't ask me for anything, because you don't deserve it after this. Don't come crying to me about the injustices in your life, because you've just done me a great injustice yourself. And when you start feeling sorry for yourself, as you inevitably will, you'd BETTER remember that what's happening to you is all your fault.