April 7th, 2000
And the trial is over.
That's really what it felt like, like I was on trial. Going to work every day in a petri dish with a Gary Larson giant microscope over my head.
The past two weeks on my Other Job [which, sad to say, is necessary for my income and insurance benefits] I've been pulled off of night shift, where I've hidden for years, and put me into the light of day. It's a medical job and apparently "there had been complaints". I was viewed as a potential problem, harsh to patients and displaying a lack of compassion and dignity.
All perception. These are people at risk, people with problems involving both addiction and, in many cases, mental instability. I've been there as the Authority Figure, the one who must enforce limits, the one who has to keep everyone safe from individuals acting out. In addition, I'm a large bearded tattooed and pierced biker-looking fellow, pretty easy to pick out of the crowd. Personally, I think I've just been targeted as "the Man", as if I'd walked in wearing a badge and gun and everyone turned on the uniform.
Also, I've had a fear that something about my life as a sexual sadist, an outspoken pleasure advocate and professional purveyor of smut would be misinterpreted as having any connection with what I do when I'm functioning as a healer. I know better but try convincing Mr & Mrs America of that.
Anyhow, I have put in many extra hours the past two weeks, done everything they've asked me to, shown excellent skills in my scope of practice and demonstrated the people skills that I've always known I demonstrated. Now they are shown in the light of day, under the watching eye of management. I've interacted with psychotics in full blown crisis, talked fragile souls out of panic attacks, held hands and soothed pains. All things I normally do and have done for 20 years in the business. Moreover, I did it as myself. No 'on good behavior' manners, no changing the street language I use with street people, no goodie-goodie nonsense. Just being myself and doing what I do, as I feel I should do it. [The hours spent outside of work sitting with my therapist has added up as well, and writing this journal has been helpful also.]
One thing I have slightly altered is a sad commentary. In the military I did much training as a leader, four years in a top notch high school academy and both basic and advanced leadership institutes on active duty. I was always taught to take charge, to take personal responsibility for the SNAFUs I encounter. Do something rather than nothing, be accountable for what you do. Be right more often than not and don't be wrong on any biggies. Consequently, that's carried over to the rest of my life. An example is years ago when I had to unfortunately help with a family member being institutionalized. I was asked, "Who do I blame for me being put here?", I told him "Ultimately, it is on me. I'm signing the papers, it's my responsibility to get you through this." Sadly, stepping up to that painful responsibility meant that it would be years after he stabilized for our personal relationship to heal from the betrayal he felt.
The same thing on the job here. It's the one thing I've altered in my behavior in this recent trial. Instead of making a decision and it being my decision I've fallen back on the "...sorry, nothing I can do about it, it's just policy..." crap that bureaucrats everywhere use to protect their little tushes. Now I'm protecting my little tush and the ultimate libertarian [note small 'L'; more a Lazarus Long thing than a Lyndon LaRouche thing]... the inner libertarian in me hates the dodging of my own responsibility. It has made a difference, however. I'll be spending some time sorting out how I feel about that. Have I been wrong all these years in my view of responsibility? Or is it just an abhorrent fact of society that those few of us who feel as I do are attacked by the lemmings [how's that for a clinical paranoia, eh? :) ]. At any rate, I've changed how I phrase things like that on that job, and like it or not I've been doing better at dodging complaints.
It was actually wonderful timing yesterday afternoon, when I got a Satisfaction Survey handed me by an exiting patient and I was listed as one who had been helpful to him, described in the same sort of terms ["male... bearded..."] that supposedly had been in the earlier complaints. My boss took the survey and with a smile took it directly to the big boss who had told her put me under the glass. Heehee ["...and the kid scores!..."].
Anyhoo, my boss called me into her office yesterday and told me that everything had gone very well, that I had impressed every possible person I could impress, that my peers thought well of me as did management, that there had been no complaints or negative comments and that there had been compliments. She put it in quite complimentary terms [let it be said here that through this entire thing she's been quite supportive and has done what she's had to do reluctantly and phrased it in "here's how we can make it work positively" terms... a good manager]. She said she would be writing it up for my personnel jacket to reflect exactly that.
At the end of the conversation I was quite misty eyed, and told her "Thank you, ma'am. I'm going to go cry now," and she told me to go take the time to do just that.
And that's what this 50 year old biker looking, pierced and tattooed, combat veteran, grandfather, tough guy sadomasochist and been there done that kinda fellow did. I went into the staff lounge and let the emotion explode and the tears and sobs gushed. The built up tension and fears shook me and I couldn't stop for some time. A pure moment.
Life is better now. On with the smut, eh?
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