Friday, January 23, 2015

The Assistant: I See You, Baby

Yesterday at work, this woman ^ who usually speaks in word salad  greeted me clearly, with affection. 

My Job Review

After lunch I had my dreaded job review with my boss, and it went really well. I finally got to see some of her frustrations, which was what I wanted most of all--to glimpse shared humanity through a crack in that shiny surface. 

We talked for more than an hour (a first!), kicking around all sorts of ideas. 

"I want to work together like this more," I told her. 

She said she did too but was frustrated with how she never has time, she's so busy catering to residents. I suggested that meeting with her staff is a legitimate use of her time too.

So, we're going to meet every-other week, and she's also going to try to check in with me daily. It seems to me that should be standard practice, but since it hasn't been, it makes me really happy.

I really saw her humanity, though, after she told me with some chagrin that Corporate denied my request for a merit-based raise saying that they don't give raises before the scheduled 1% after one year.

"But that's ten cents!" I said.

"Is it?" she said. "Oh . . . yeah." [We innumerates!]

And then she started saying how frustrated she was with Corporate. Of her own volition [I didn't even have to suggest this], she said she is going to take this to the administrator of our place. He's under Corporate, but maybe he has some sway.

I'm not counting on it, but I love that she's willing to go to bat for me. That in itself makes me glad I screwed up my courage to ask for a raise.

Another "I See You"

After the review, I went back to the floor and set up our ongoing Baby Bib Sewing Project. (Follow up to the Hot Pad Project).

An RN came along and asked if she could borrow one the residents, to interview her.

She apologized for the interruption, saying, "I'd rather leave her here, this is more important."

"Well, what you do is important too," I said.

"No," she said, "I'm under no illusions about my job: it's to fill out papers. This..." ––gesturing to the table of people cutting out cloth––"this is way more important."

I didn't know what to say [rare]. 
I not only basically agreed with her but was also a little stunned at the contrast with how Corporate sees (rewards with money) our relative worth.

So, OK.
End result: I want personal connection and meaning way more than I want money.  
The work is self-evidently important; the residents and I already connect every day; and if my boss and I can start to support each other, then I can work well without a raise. 
For a while, at least...

My boss told me she'd written recommendations for an earlier assistant who'd let her know she was looking for another job that paid better. She doesn't want me to leave, but "I'd do that for you too," she said.

I expect it'll come to that, eventually. But for now, anyway, I am re-energized.


deanna said...

I'm so happy this went well for you! It's great to connect on a shared human level. And your guesses about this woman have been spot on. :)

gz said...


Michael Leddy said...

“But for now, anyway, I am re-energized.” Me too, reading this. And I'm happy for you.

Zhoen said...

Yup, the day to day matters a whole lot. Especially to your people. So glad you found the good in your boss, that it was there to find.

Took care of a woman who only screamed, all the time, in between bites of food, through the night, always. But I always greeted her, told her what I was doing, treated her kindly.

One day I said "Good morning, how are you" as usual, and she said "Oh, I'm doing fine, how are you?" Clear, no confusion at all. We talked for a while, she talked with her husband (who visited every day). She was gone again later, but would have the odd lucid period again for several weeks.

You never know when they are going to hit a smooth stretch.

poodletail said...

Well, fresca. This brought me to glad tears: for your boss, for the nurse, for you, and most of all for the residents. "I see you, Baby." and I'm happy at this minute for all of you.

Fresca said...

THANK YOU, everybody!
I'm just heading off to work this Saturday morning with a lighter heart than I've had in weeks!

ArtSparker said...

Heh, I remember when I was volunteering at Creative Growth and trying to engage this woman with a severely limited vocabulary in a non-tragic conversation (her constant enquiry, with an anxious expression, was "NO MO?", meaning something would never happen again). On this particular day, she was showing interest in my putting away art supplies, and I asked where I should put the eraser. She delightedly said "Eat it". My moment of community service for the week.

ArtSparker said...

Great about your boss, the response above was to the Verna remark, didn't see the rest at first. I am excited for you.

Fresca said...