No Need To Internalize Your Feelings About The Intern

, | Working | May 17, 2017

(I work as a speech therapist. My mom, who is also my boss, asks me to take her acquaintance’s daughter as an intern. I contact her and we meet up to discuss everything. She is really shy and quiet, but seems nice. She tells me she studies at the same university I went to and plans to work as a speech therapist after graduation. We agree to a four week internship, where she will observe me at first and then gradually take over some of my tasks. She starts her internship a few weeks later and everything goes smoothly. At the beginning of the second week I talk to her.)

Me: “So, you’ve watched me for a week. I think you’re ready to plan and do your first own session. What do you think?”

(She shoots me a horrified look, but doesn’t say anything.)

Me: “If you think you need more time, it’s okay if you just watch for another week.”

Intern: “That would be better. I don’t think I’m ready yet.”

(So she continues shadowing me. I try to include her in a therapy or two, e.g. when I am playing a board game with a child, I ask her to join us, which she only does reluctantly. During the third week, I approach her again.)

Me: “So, you’ve had a lot of time to observe how to do a session. I want you to plan and do one by yourself next Monday. Who do you want to work with? I’ll let you choose.”

Intern: “I’m still not ready.”

Me: “Well, we agreed that you will take over some of my patients over time. I mean, if you want to work in this field, you’ll need work experience. This is your chance to gain some.”

Intern: “But… I…”

Me: “I totally understand you. I was just as shy when I started this job. But the best way to cope with it is to just do it. My mom didn’t ask me once if I wanted to do something. She just said, ‘Here, read his file, you’re going to do the next session.’ And left the room. I remember how scared I was, but it went well. Okay, sometimes it didn’t go well, but that didn’t kill me. You’ve seen me; even I didn’t know what to do or what to say in some situations. It happens. You are free to choose the patients to work with, so you can pick the easy ones. And if you do get stumped, I’m next to you to help you out.”

Intern: “I’d rather continue watching you.”

(I sigh internally. It may not sound like it, but having someone at your side all day, watching your every move, can be very exhausting. On the other side, being an introvert myself, I can relate to her fears.)

Me: “Okay, then here’s my offer. You complete these four weeks just watching me. After your next semester you can come here for another internship, so you’ll have enough time to prepare for it.”

Intern: “No. I’ll apply somewhere else for my next internship.”

(I am taken aback, but don’t say anything. Then, on the next day…)

Intern: “I’ve been thinking about your offer. I’d like to accept.”

Me: ”Well, okay then. We’ll discuss that next week on our final meeting.”

Intern: “What? Next week? I already told the boss I wanted to extend the internship. I’ll be here for another two weeks.”

(I can’t remember my mom telling me about it, but think she may have forgotten, so I just shrug it off. Three weeks later, the minute the last session ends, the intern packs her stuff, wishes me a nice weekend, and disappears without another word. Now I am really angry. Not only did I tell her I wanted to talk about her next internship on our last day, I also expected a few words of appreciation, or a ‘thank you’ at least. I later tell my mom about it.)

Mom: “Why was she here today anyway? I thought she was supposed to leave two weeks ago?”

Me: “She told me she asked you to extend the internship, and you said yes. I figured you just forgot to tell me.”

(Turns out my mom didn’t know anything about this. Basically, the intern lied to me. I’m fuming, but my mom asks me to let her have her second internship with me, as she doesn’t want to upset her acquaintance. Fast forward six months. The girl starts her first week with us again. As she looks utterly terrified, I decide to let her work only one or two sessions a day for the first week. I show her around.)

Me: “This will be your office for the next few weeks. These are the patient’s files for today and tomorrow. Please read them carefully so you know what we’re working on. I also put post-it-notes on the covers with the most important points regarding the patient and recommendations for the first sessions. If you have any questions, just feel free to stop by my office and ask. No matter what I’m doing, just come in anytime. Now, you’ll have about an hour to prepare. The session starts at [time].”

(I am the one who observes her work. She manages to hide her insecurities well, but after the first few days I realize that she neither read the files nor did she look at the material before she started, despite having more than enough time. Naturally, there is a lot of confusion and I have to intervene a few times. Of course, I tell her my observations and give her tips to perform better. I try to talk to her as carefully as I can; however, she doesn’t take it very well. Then, one day she is supposed to show up at four pm. Her patient cancels the appointment, so I let her know via text.)

Me: “Hi. Your 4:00 appointment got cancelled, but I have a replacement for you, if you want.”

(I expect a reply, but never get one, so I assume she did not read the text and will show up at the scheduled time. Five minutes before her session starts, she still isn’t there, so I text her again.)

Me: “I see you’re running late. I prepared everything for you so you can start right away.”

Intern: “I thought you meant I could come in later. But I can’t. I have something else to do.”

Me: “Are you serious? I expected you at four pm. You didn’t tell me otherwise.”

(She arrives in a huff and twenty minutes late. I can’t give her the patient now, as I have already started. To make things worse, they were a double booking, as I planned on having the intern. I let her do the next session as planned. Nearing the end, she starts to stall. By the time the patient finally leaves, I am ten minutes late for the next one, meaning overtime for me on an already long day.)

Me: “I would have liked to talk to you about today, but we’re overdue. We’ll talk about this tomorrow.”

Intern: “It was a misunderstanding…”

Me: “I’m really sorry, but we won’t discuss that now. I need to work”

(She keeps insisting on defending herself and doesn’t move from my desk. I have enough.)

Me: “Okay, listen. I see the misunderstanding. I asked you if you wanted to come anyway. An answer to that would have been nice. You can’t just say nothing. I need to plan. I had a huge problem telling two moms why their children, four and eleven, by the way, had to share one therapist today. They weren’t happy at all. I know I shouldn’t have scheduled them both for the same time, but after you didn’t answer my texts I expected you to be here at four pm. I thought if you didn’t want to come you’d have told me so. You’ve caused me unnecessary work today, not to mention the overtime. Your behavior was unprofessional.”

(She left without another word. For the next days she called in sick, then sent me a termination letter. I tried to talk to her to resolve the problem, but she refused. However, she demanded a certification for the nearly five hours she worked here. I wrote one, but she has yet to pick it up.)

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The Sign(s) Of A Good Neighborhood

, , | Friendly | May 12, 2017

(My wife and I have just moved to a new neighborhood. A few days after we move in, my wife is at the store, and I am home alone. I am Deaf, and we have trained our dog to come get one of us when someone is at the door. The dog alerts me, so I grab a pen and paper and head to the front door, prepared for a tedious and frustrating encounter with a new neighbor. I open the door, and there’s a pair of men standing there. One of them starts to speak, and I quickly motion that I am Deaf. I start to write on the paper, but he waves his hand to get my attention again.)

Man: *in sign language* “Do you sign?”

(I’m momentarily stunned, as I am not used to meeting random people who sign. Then, I am elated. The rest of this conversation takes place in American Sign Language.)

Me: “Yes!”

Man: “I’m [Man], and this is my husband, [Husband].”

(He shows me their name signs, special signs that are used to identify people without having to fingerspell their full name. Name signs are only given by Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing people to others who are involved with the Deaf/HoH community.)

Man: “We live across the street and wanted to say welcome!”

Me: “Thank you! I’m [My Name].” *I show them my name sign* “It’s so nice to meet you. And you sign!”

Man: “Yes, our son is Deaf. Our family signs, and some of the other neighbors do, too.”

(He points them out to me — his sister, and two close friends of his family. At this point, I am almost jumping up and down with happiness. They invite my wife and me over for dinner later, where we meet their children and the aforementioned neighbors. That was 13 years ago, and that group of people are like family to us now. Every day I think about how lucky I am to have these wonderful people in my life.)

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No Point Crying Over Maced Milk

, , | Right | April 29, 2017

I’m working a closing shift in a department by the front door. Our store is 24-hour but my department is not. I see a young man come in with his two female friends. The man is stumbling and very nearly knocks over a wine display. One of the female friends asks me where they can find the milk. I direct them to the dairy section and continue mopping.

About five minutes later, I gather my trash and wheel it back to the dumpster; due to the placement of my department in the store, I have to walk through the entire store to get to the back.

When I pass the dairy section, another customer stops me and alerts me that a young man has puked in the freezer section. I thank them for letting me know, and tell the night manager and the dairy clerk as I continue towards the back.

As I throw my garbage in the dumpster I hear the night manager and dairy clerk enter the back room and page another clerk to mop the freezer aisle. The two men are shaking their heads in exasperation.

Apparently, the young man from earlier had been maced in the face, and his female friends had grabbed a bottle of milk and thrown it in his face, in an attempt to “help.” The man was very high and became belligerent with the manager when he (the manager) offered assistance. The group had to be escorted off the premises and next door to the immediate care clinic. Maybe next time they’ll let a professional look at him first instead of trying to solve the issue (creatively) themselves…

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The Importance Of Life-Saving Sandwiches

, , | Healthy Working | April 27, 2017

I work at a large mine in an isolated area. As a member of our Technical Rescue Team, I have been called many times to assist the local sheriff’s Search and Rescue.

One day in late May, when wildfires less than 20 miles away are suffusing the air with smoke, we receive a page to proceed to a canyon near the state line. This canyon has a highway carved into a steep rock wall, with the debris pushed down into the chasm. In the past, our team had been called to the area to remove the remains of drivers who crashed through the guardrails, so we are ready for the worst.

When we arrive, the SO officers tell us a father and his three sons have “hiked” to the bottom of the canyon and are stranded. They actually scrambled down approximately 600 feet of broken rock, and then found that climbing back up was impossible. It is after 5:00 pm when we arrive.

By the time we manage to get rescuers to the bottom and formulate an extraction plan, darkness has set in. I am the first down, making contact and bringing water and flashlights. Other team members follow close behind, and we move the group (father with sons 6, 7, and 9 years old) to the raise point. One of the team members brought a backpack with sandwiches, granola bars, and water. The boys agree to wait for the sandwiches until we reach the top and gobble up the granola bars (I’ll admit, the one I had was the best ever).

The trip back up the fractured rock pile takes nearly two hours, most of the time at least partially suspended on the main-line rope. There are several small incidents (lost cell phones and tennis shoes, rolling rocks, etc.) on the way up, but topping out and disconnecting was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. The family is rushed to a waiting ambulance for evaluation, and my team leader and incident commander examine the other rescuers and me carefully before allowing us to stow our gear and get ready to leave.

I remembered that I had the sunglasses of one of the children in my pack, so I went to the back of the ambulance and opened the door to return them. That’s when the youngest asked, in one of the smallest, most plaintive voices I’ve ever heard, “But what about our sandwiches?”

When we drove away into the dawn, the father and three boys were standing in front of the ambulance eating sandwiches.

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The Store Employs Manual Labor

, | Healthy | April 26, 2017

(I’m standing in line with a few items to purchase from a well-known clothing store. The store has its music quite loud, so I can’t really hear anything said between the employees at the front of the line. One dashes past me, almost knocking over a rack of clothes, and grabs the manager by the arm. She says something, the manager turns pale, and tells the other girl on the register something, who looks confused and starts checking people out at lightning speed. All the other employees in the store run full pelt to the changing rooms. I manage to catch some of what the manager says into her phone as she runs past, but all I hear is “I need an ambulance!” I step out of line and drop my clothes to follow her. As I reach the changing rooms an employee stops me from entering.)

Employee: “I’m sorry, miss, but the changing rooms are closed right now. I’ll be able to help you soon.”

Me: “What’s going on? I’m—”

(Mid-sentence I am cut off by a shriek I know VERY well. I unzip my jacket, showing my hospital ID still clipped to my shirt pocket. The employee shoves me through the curtain.)

Manager: “[Employee]! I told you not to let anyone back here!”

Me: “Trust me; you NEED me! I’m a midwife!”

(And that was the day I delivered a healthy baby girl in the changing room at a clothing store!)

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