Cancer Can Do A Real Job On You

, , , , | Hopeless | April 9, 2017

(We have a 24-year-old who works basically as a receptionist for our box office. She answers the phones, directs workers, and handles little stuff for us so we don’t have to. It’s clearly her first office job after a string of terrible retail jobs, and she’s confessed she’s afraid she’ll mess up and have to go back to retail. Because part of her job is answering the phone, we ask that she not answer her personal phone if it rings. She usually just keeps it in her purse until break. One day I notice she has it sitting on her desk and keeps glancing at it.)

Me: “Everything okay?”

Worker: “Oh, yeah, sorry. I’ve got an important phone call due soon. Would it be okay if I answered it? Sorry, it’s really important.”

Me: “Sure, just let [Coworker] know so she can cover the phones while you do.”

Worker: *look of utter relief* “Thanks. It’s from my doctor and they were supposed to call yesterday.”

Me: “Doctors, man. They never call back when they say they will.”

(About an hour late, I hear buzzing, and then see Worker bolt down the hallway, phone in hand.)

Me: *to Coworker* “Any idea what’s going on? I’m getting worried.”

Coworker: “She wouldn’t say. I hope it’s nothing bad. I feel really bad for her sometimes, you know? She’s told literal horror stories of having to work at her other jobs while sick, or not being allowed to call off and she sometimes acts like the smallest mistake will make her lose this job. Yesterday she told me about how she had to miss a funeral because her last job wouldn’t let her have the day off.”

Me: *shuddering* “I do not miss retail. I have no problems letting her go home early if she needs it, you?”

Coworker: “Nope.”

(Worker comes back, kinda pale, and looks like she’s trying not to cry. She goes straight to her desk and sits down, pulling up her work and tapping half-heartedly at the keys. Coworker and I exchange glances.)

Coworker: “[Worker]?”

Worker: *sniffling* “Yeah? Sorry. Hang on; I have a tissue in my purse… Sorry, sorry, would it be okay if I went home? I know it’s sudden but I can come in early tomorrow or—”

Me: “No, it’s fine, it’s fine. Are you okay?”

Worker: “I… just found out I have cancer. Um, I’m probably going to need to put in my two weeks while I get treatment—”

Me: “What?! No, absolutely not! You go home and get everything situated. If you feel up to it, come in whenever you want tomorrow and we’ll get this sorted. I’m gonna drive you home, and don’t worry about your job. Worry about your health!”

(She wound up needing surgery and a few rounds of chemo, but our parent company had no problem holding her job for her in the meantime, and even took up donations to help her pay for everything. She’s currently in remission and I’m happy to say she still works for us. I shudder to think what would have happened if she’d been at her old job when that happened…)

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