A Crazy Lack Of Competence

, , , , , , | Healthy | July 27, 2018

(I’m Bipolar I and not medicated. We’ve tried a few different combinations of drugs for me, but unfortunately I either have side effects or it simply doesn’t help anything. While therapy has been helpful, it’s not perfect; I still need the occasional trip to a psychiatric hospital. For this particular incident, I am sent to a completely different hospital, which I later learn is more adequately equipped to handle patients seeking drug rehab. However, even that seems to be inaccurate, as I learn during my three-and-a-half day visit. On day one, a patient and the head of the wing are talking in a common area:)

Patient #1: “When do you think I can go home?”

Doctor #1: “Sunday. Your insurance lets us hold you another week.”

(For a little context, during a previous group session I had with [Patient #1], he mentioned he’s been here almost two weeks and the head of the group commented on how much progress he’s made. As my stay continues, it isn’t uncommon to overhear the nurses gossiping about how they can’t believe the doctors still won’t discharge [Patient #1]. Day two: one of the other patients is a new mother with apparently no thought filter. As a result, she frequently talks about how she has to pump if the subject even remotely drifts towards family or children. One of the other patients finally gets fed up with it and a fight nearly breaks out. Unlike the mother, the other patient is allowed to leave the wing to go have lunch in the cafeteria.)

Doctor #2: “Okay, [Patient #3], you just lost your cafeteria privilege for today.”

Me: “But doesn’t [Patient #2] have to stay up here, too?”

Doctor #2: “Of course.”

Me: “So, you’re going to lock them in the wing together when most of the staff is down in the cafeteria?”

Patient #1: “Besides, isn’t [Patient #3] getting discharged tomorrow?”

(After enough of us band together, the doctors finally agree the best thing they can do for both patients is to separate them. Also of note, a fourth patient is discharged at the end of day two, with a certain nurse helping her gather her things. On day three, though I’ve only had three or four sessions with her, I bid [Patient #3] farewell as she is gathering her things from the storage locker with the same nurse who assisted yesterday’s discharge. Just as I go to leave:)

Patient #3: “Where’s my backpack?”

Nurse #1: “Your what?”

Patient #3: “My backpack. I came in with a pink backpack from [Brand]. Where is it?”

Nurse #1: “We only had one like that. It was [Patient #4]’s, wasn’t it?”

Patient #3: “Wha?!”

Nurse #1: “She said that bag was hers. We gave it to her when she left last night.”

Patient #3: “YOU GAVE HER MY BACKPACK?!”

Nurse #1: “Sorry. We’ll call the police and report the theft.”

Patient 3: “WHAT THE F***’S THAT GOING TO DO? SHE’S BEEN GONE A DAY ALREADY! WHY DIDN’T ANY OF YOU NOTICE THE BAG WASN’T LABELLED FOR HER?” *begins crying*

Nurse #1: “Calm down! It’s just a backpack!”

Patient #3: “THAT BACKPACK HAD MY WALLET IN IT! WITH MY LICENSE AND SOCIAL SECURITY CARD! YOU LET HER STEAL MY IDENTITY!”

Nurse #1: “We can replace those things!”

Patient #3: “IT HAD THE ONLY PICTURE I HAVE OF ME WITH MY FATHER! YOU CAN’T REPLACE THAT! HE DIED AFTER I WAS BORN!”

Me: “Get the f****** police already, you dips***!”

(I didn’t know what else to do. The police do show up, though I have no idea how this story ends or if anything was done about [Nurse #1]. On day four — my release day — I’m sitting in the common area playing cards, waiting for my girlfriend to show up and drive me home. Needing a fourth for Hearts, one of the nurses agrees to join us.)

Nurse #2: “[My Name], you sure know how to pick ’em. Of all the weeks you could’ve shown up!”

Me: “I’m amazed, too.”

Nurse #2: “Yeah, but this ain’t even the worst of it. One patient last year always ran his mouth. ‘I’m in for bestiality!’ ‘I’m a member of the local KKK and they think this’ll cure me!’ and on and on. All cause he didn’t want to admit he tried to kill himself after his girlfriend broke up with him.”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Nurse #2: “Yeah, he just kept making excuses to justify the cuts on his arms.”

Me: “You can’t tell us that! His medical records are still privileged!”

(I’ve never been back. I haven’t looked it up yet, because I’m truly frightened that it might still be open.)

They’re Not Always Alt-Right

, , , , , , | Working | July 25, 2018

(I became a manager in the post office back in the early 1980s, and quickly gained a reputation with the union workers. One of the more memorable incidents that forged it came with a dispute between two women. One is tasked with loading the mailbags into the trucks. The other drives the loaded trucks and delivers the mail. The problem is simple: the loader consistently fails to load the mailbags when she is working with the driver. I call them both into my office to settle this, but only after doing a little of my own diligence. In this case, that means going over their history. Turns out both women are still on their 90 days; basically, the contract signed by both USPS and the union states that within the first 90 days of an employee’s term, management can let them go for any reason — downsizing, too many sick days, bad chemistry with the team, arrest, anything. The meeting goes as follows:)

Me: “So, [Loader], [Driver] tells me you’re not loading mail into her truck.”

Loader: “That’s right.”

Me: “Y-You don’t deny it?”

Loader: “No, I’m not loading mail for her. She can load her own mail! I don’t load mail for a [racial slur]!”

(The driver and I just sit there with our mouths agape for a moment. Thankfully, I gather myself together first.)

Me: “Pack up your stuff and get out. Don’t bother finishing up today. And don’t come back tomorrow, or ever again. Your racism just cost you your job.”

(Their reactions to my words make me thankful for two reasons. First, [Loader]’s look of pure shock and rage is amazing, but doesn’t extend beyond that; she packs up without a scene. Second, [Driver] doesn’t revel in it. Not then, not ever. I assume this is going to be the end of it, but then the next day rolls around. Just after I get in, [Loader] came into my office on the heels of a man. I happen to recognize this man as a union rep.)

Rep: “[My Name]?”

Me: “Yes. How can I help you?”

Rep: *pointing to [Loader]* “Is it true you fired [Loader] yesterday because of what she said about [Driver]?”

Me: “Yes.”

Rep: “You can’t do that. The union’s contract says you can’t fire her for what she said. She has to get her job back right now, or…”

Me: “No.”

Rep: “What?”

Me: “She’s not getting her job back.”

Rep: “The contract says…”

Me: “The contract also says, in black and white, that we can release any employee for any reason within the first 90 days of employment. She was still on her 90 days. I can fire her for whatever reason I want.”

Rep: “No, you can’t!”

Me: “Of course I can. ‘ANY! REASON!’ If you’ve got a problem, go over my head! Now get out of my office before I throw you out!”

(Both of them left, with the rep cursing every other word. Nothing ever came of their threats, so I assume either the union finally realized she had also confessed to allowing her bigotry to take priority over doing her job, or my superiors laughed them out of the building. Regardless, I noticed I got a lot more respect from my employees — including the union workers — after the rep walked out.)

It Was A Boring Conversation, Anyway…

, , , , , | Right | July 11, 2018

(I work at a site that is a major tourist destination, so we get a LOT of people for whom English is not their first language. I am watching a few people pass by, giving them pleasant smiles.)

Customer: “You look boring.”

(At this, I’m pretty sure I look a bit dumbfounded as I try to figure out what exactly happened and how to politely respond.)

Customer: “I’m sorry… Is that… not good? My English is bad.”

Me: *smiling* “Sir, ‘boring’ implies that I am dull or uninteresting, while ‘bored’ is the general term that means I find things to be dull or uninteresting. So, I would be ‘bored.’ Things are a bit slow today, but everything is fine!”

Customer: “Ah… heh. Well, I hope things improve!”

(One of my coworkers was hugely amused and kept retelling the story all day until other coworkers of mine started asking me if I was boring instead of asking me how I was. At least the customer meant well!)

She Has A Crab Mentality

, , , , , | Right | June 29, 2018

(At the touch tank of the local aquarium, this happens:)

Guest: “Can you make the hermit crabs gladiator fight?”

Me: “Sorry?”

Guest: “Yeah, like, can you make them fight each other?”

Me: “Well, they’re typically not aggressive to each other, and for the safety of our animals, we try not to encourage or instigate fights between them.”

Guest: “Well, I bet I can make them fight to the death, like, a gladiator fight.”

Me: “Please don’t do that.”

(The guest takes the hermit crabs out of the water, places them next to each other, and goes as far as to draw a circle around the hermit crabs for them to “fight” in.)

Me: “Please let the hermit crabs go.”

Guest: “Okay, okay.”

(Luckily for me, she left, and the hermit crabs scuttled away from each other without fighting. All was well, but please, lady, listen to the employees! They know what they’re doing!)

Time We All Sat Down For A Plow-Wow

, , , , , | Working | June 28, 2018

(Due to all of the on-street parking, the plows around here never clear out the whole street. The portion where cars would park or sit idle is left to the duty of the people who wish to park their cars there. There are exactly two exceptions to this. One is when a resident hires a private plowing service. The second is when there’s so much snow the plows run out of places to push the snow. In the latter case, typically they’ll instead use a truck and a backhoe to cart the snow off, whereas the former case is simply more pushing. I live on a street corner, so I have about double the shoveling just for the sidewalk alone. One particularly bad winter, just as I round the corner to tackle the second half of the sidewalk, I see a plow pushing the snow off the street, and right into the fence around my backyard. The fence is visibly leaning as he’s pushing, and he is still going back to push more in. Phone in hand, I snap a picture of his whole plow and then his license plate before tapping his door with my shovel. He rolls down his window just as I snap a photo of his face.)

Me: “What do you think you’re doing?”

Plow Driver: “I have to get the snow off the street.”

Me: “By pushing it into my fence?”

Plow Driver: “I have to put it somewhere.”

Me: “So, Mr. [License Plate Number], have you noticed my once-upright fence is now leaning?

Plow Driver: *speechless*

Me: “If my fence breaks under the weight of all that snow and your plow, are you going to pay for it, or will I have to sue the city and show them this photo of you behind the wheel of your plow to see that money?”

Plow Driver: *drives off rapidly*

(I continue my shoveling, starting with the mess he left me. The good news is I get everything cleared in that morning. That afternoon, I see a different plow clearing another neighbor’s driveway, again pushing the snow into my driveway. Phone in hand again, I snap the same the same two photos as before, but this time I notice something interesting. Unlike the first plow, this plow has a New Hampshire license plate. I then tap the door, and the driver — someone completely different — rolls down his window as I snap the third photo.)

Me: “What do you think you’re doing?”

Plow Driver #2: *pointing to a house* “My sister lives right over there. She asked me to clear out her driveway.”

Me: “So you’re pushing it into my driveway, after I cleared out all the snow?”

Plow Driver #2: “Uh… Sorry.”

Me: “By the way, I noticed you have New Hampshire plates.”

Plow Driver #2: “Yeah, I live up there. I just came down to help my sister.”

Me: “Oh, okay. So if I called the police and reported you, Mr. [License Plate Number] whose sister lives at [Address], would they find you have a license to operate a plow in the state of Massachusetts?”

Plow Driver #2: *pause* “Tell you what I’ll do. I’ll clear out the snow I pushed in front of your house, and anytime you want, I’ll plow it again for free.”

Me: “No.”

Plow Driver #2: “‘No’?”

Me: “You’re an a**hole! All you’d do is push the snow into someone else’s driveway! Now get lost!”

(He drove off. After breaking my back all day, I spent the closing hours of the day in front of my television to goof off. Around eight at night, however, I heard the distinctive beeping of a large vehicle backing up, and a sound akin to rolling rocks and metal clanging. Curious, I poked my head out the window. Rather than taking the deliberate approach of carefully chipping away at the ice-walls my neighbors, the plows, and myself had made during the day, they believed the most efficient way to get the snow was to knock all the walls over and the scoop it up slowly; the clanging was the avalanche hitting my fence. It probably wouldn’t have been a big deal, if their schedule didn’t say they had to clock out at nine exactly, and the next shift actually started where they left off. As a result, all of our sidewalks were buried again, our driveways had become obstructed, and there were no clearings for the crosswalks or bus stop. So, in the middle of the night, I went back to work. Thanks a lot, plow drivers!)

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