A New Doctor Faces The Same Problems

In my previous online location, Dr. Heartlander was the umbrella name for all of us – a community of caring souls and wisdom keepers who love getting a chance to meddle in somebody else’s messed-up life.

Now that we’re in a new environment, there’s no reason to change, though it is necessary to come up with a different name. So let’s call it “Ask Dr. Babooner”.

Dear Dr. Babooner,

Recently my employer quite suddenly called an end to my long and illustrious career. I felt I had been doing a good job and management had no specific complaints about my performance, but as I look back on it now I wonder if my sacking had anything to do with my reluctance to work weekends. I’m a Monday-Friday girl, and I like to keep my Saturday and Sunday free for fun and relaxation. It’s a mental health strategy that has worked well for me over the years.

Now I’m self employed. Everybody tells me this is a better way of life but I don’t believe it. What I’m finding is that my new boss wants me to work ALL THE TIME. Especially weekends. I tell her these demands are outrageous and she threatens me with poverty and starvation and insists that I put my butt in the chair and get busy, OR ELSE. This must be against some OSHA guideline but I don’t think my employer knows anything about work rules or common decency. There’s no HR department and no supervisor to hear an appeal. I can’t even complain to my colleagues. There are none. My boss is ferocious on this topic, and I fear she might be unbalanced. I think she needs to take weekends off, but I’m afraid to mention it, and I don’t dare skip a Saturday or a Sunday at the grindstone.

As a self-employed person, how can I get some balance in my life when my boss is totally unreasonable?


Slave Driven

I told Ms. Driven she needs to swallow hard and face the music. She signed on for this self-employment gig and that means she has to accept everything that comes with the deal, even if the boss happens to be a raving, workaholic harridan. If the arrangement is unsatisfactory, she should look around for other work during the few uncommitted moments she has in the course of a normal day. One may change to a new job, but that person should never bite the hand that reluctantly feeds them, even if it is their own.

But that’s just MY opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

61 thoughts on “A New Doctor Faces The Same Problems”

  1. Morning all!

    I say this is exactly why I am not self-employed! My father, who was never happy working for anyone but himself, always told me that I wouldn’t be happy unless I had my own business either. But he was wrong. I am very very good at leaving the office behind on Friday afternoon. Besides, having the teenager keeps me busy enough on the off-hours. In fact, we’re off in just a few minutes to hit a big tank top sale at Old Navy at 7 a.m…. on a Saturday… sheesh@!

    Dale — thanks for the use of the word “harridan” this morning. Haven’t seen this work in print for quite some time. You’re the best!


  2. Dale, uh, i mean Driven – please take some time off to enjoy! please. if you do something every day i feel more pressure also – to respond and be here. a day or two off would be fine in my book. the folks who need to talk will be here anyway on yesterday’s blog 🙂
    yesterday i couldn’t partake of the blog d/t the weather and how it messes with our satellite internet. (no cable or phone high speed out here) i actually got quite a bit done! ha, ha
    i gotta go –
    don’t let the driver in your head mess with you


  3. first of all let me comment on the wonderful portrait of dr babooner. i am so impressed with the similarity yet the vast improvement over its predecessor. same hair but it works better. a face that would make any blevins glad to be a single parent.

    the self employment game is a slippery slope slave driven. the boss you face each day is an unreasonable jerk, a tyrant, an unsympathetic ear, a non forgiving critic, and a pretty scary face in the mirror every day. if you want weekends off, a days pay for a days work, someone who will listen to your whimpering and whining, mental health and allow you to put fun and relaxation at the top of the priorities you list. then sears has just the job for you ( i think you have to work your way up to weekends off though)

    slave driven, realize that even the ceo of home depot may have his wife tell him he doesn’t take the garbage out correctly when he’s in her arena. watch out what you wish for, no demands and criticisms are certain when they put you in a box. until then get to work


  4. Very thought-provoking blog, Dale. Something I learned in several decades of freelancing is that there is very little difference–if any difference at all–between being “self-employed” and being “self-unemployed.”

    When I came back to a regular office after being self-employed for many years, it felt guilty to be getting so much money for such dubious accomplishments. I realized that if I just marched around the cubicles telling Ole and Lena jokes, my paycheck would still be fat. By way of contrast, when I am self-employed it is quite possible to toil for years on some quixotic project that ends up not earning a dime. (Let me show you my memoir book sometime.)

    One sad discovery was that having so much free time is not like having great amounts of healthy rest and recreation. If you are not conventionally employed, in other words, it isn’t like each week is a succession of Saturdays that improve your stability and attitude. There is no mental health boost in a weekend if you weren’t earning something during the week.

    So my advice, Ms. Driven, is to get on someone’s payroll as quickly as you can. Working for yourself is working for a totally unreasonable boss.

    And if you can catch a new gig working for a paycheck when you’ve been self-employed for a while, be ready to be overjoyed the first time you walk into the women’s restroom while you are on the clock. You can tell yourself, “Someone is going to PAY me for what I’ll be doing in the next few minutes!” It is one of the sweetest feelings I’ve known.


  5. This is pretty funny. As I opened the blog this morning I was thinking, “Dale is nuts to be doing this 7 days a week….”


    1. I thought as I woke up that I hope Dale was not doing a new blog today but then of course hoping he did.
      Have never really been self-employed; anyone want to buy an second-rate pastel for an outrageous price?
      The rainstorm is acumen in. Loudly sing don’t bike.


    2. Trying to be creative 7 days a week is waaayyy too hard. Plus I am deeply deeply not a morning person, on any day of the week.

      For instance, my last comment on yesterday’s blog entry was seeded on Wednesday (by I think Steve’s comment that Heartlanders are too good-hearted), germinated on Thursday and finally found it’s way into presentable form on Friday… Actually it was already Saturday by then!

      So Dale, I hope you don’t feel like the bar must be kept open 7 days a week


  6. Driven, I so feel your pain. I’ve been working for a similar boss for a few years now and I can tell you, it does not get better over time. You really must begin with this new boss as you mean to go on.

    Set boundaries NOW and stick to them. I’m told a separate work area is a good plan too, but I have never been able to decide if setting up that area falls under the time I am working or my personal time.

    I’ve since signed up for a second job with a different boss, thinking that would give me some structure, and that is not so much helping either.

    Boundaries, it is all about the boundaries.

    And really, it could be worse, you could be working for goats.


  7. Dear Slave,
    Maybe your driver would agree to having an intern
    or talented relative take over all of your duties for
    ONE day a week.

    (Dr Baboon is kind of cute!)

    could we get a preview for the comments? I use my kindle when I’m not by my computer and the spacing comes out all wrong?


  8. Oh, re me and the HR director yesterday: She is coming to see me in one month; and by the way my boss answers a question, it is very clear what she is going to say.
    Here I wrote an explanation of that but got back into a funk again like I did yesterday. So, “never mind.” (Was not that a great line in a great comedy bit, even for a non SNL fan like me.)
    I have no advice here; such questions are not for old men yo answer.


  9. Just a question, but could one day a week be hosted by a guest-sort of like the intern patricia is suggesting? (says she who has never volunteered to do so)

    Clyde, Gilda Radner was one of the great ones. I often wonder what dinner with her and Gene Wilder would have been like. I do not like the way your post is sounding re: the HR director.


  10. This is one very fast moving swirl of rain and thunder coming through here. Duck in St. Peter, Lisa.


    1. FOrtunately (for all sorts of reasons), I have escaped St. Peter for the summer, and am waiting for the fog to roll in on the coast of Maine.
      (And, yes, I WILL be able to tie this in to Driven’s problem. See below.)


  11. tim, it does not look good for the Greeks. I have to admit, I am enjoying the World Cup mostly for the people watching.


  12. I found that when I retired and became self-employed that my new boss was really demanding and not very understanding of the difficulty of the transition.

    Well, I’ve had about enough. I’m going to retire from self-employment gradually. I’m giving up most of the self-employment in a few weeks. (Take that you unreasonable taskmaster!)

    I just hope the rest of the family understands why I run off the lake more often and off to run seminars less often and why we shop more at W**-M*** and less at Byerly’s and Lands’ End.


  13. Dear Slave Driven,

    I guess I should offer you some advice. In other words, meddle in your messed up life which certainly is a good description of advice giving. I guess we all have messed up lives, although I can only speak for myself on this. Being self employed certainly seemed a little messed up to me when I did that.

    What is my advice? Make lists and give yourself credit for getting things done on the list. As a retired person I have some of the problems you have being self employed because I am finding plenty of things to do which I think need doing and have trouble getting them done. If I make a list, it keeps me on track and I feel I am making progress as I complete at least some things on the list. As you work on getting things done on your list, be sure to include some time for taking breaks and for days off.

    Well, that is enough meddling. I think I need a break or is this my break? What a mess.

    Best wishes from an employee of the Dr. Babooner Advice Service.

    P.S. Of course, another approach would be to let the spring wind blow your list of things to do away as in the Greg Brown song.


    1. Jim… I agree completely about making lists and crossing off (or highlighting) the things you’ve finished. However, one more essential. If you finish something that isn’t on the list… write it on the list quickly so you can cross it off/highlight it!


      1. Yes, get as much credit as you can. When I do a good job of listing things to do and check to see what I have done, I find that I have been more productive than I realized.


  14. Dear SD,
    Some of us work too hard no matter who we work for. For example I remember when “DC” only worked 2 hours a day Mon-Fri mornings and yet he would answer emails at night and on weekends saying the work wasn’t too difficult.

    Even tho many of us work long hours(already checked the pager and the email for another 24 hour stint on call) our work isn’t too rough-no manure shoveling, oil well plugging, or pyramid-building here. We may not have time for employee recognition or team building, but at least we can put ourselves in the care of Dr Babooner.


  15. Dale,
    Doesn’t the boss ever leave the building? That’s your chance to slack off– or, um, I mean that’s when you can take a break as well… I’m sure you can figure out some ways to work “creatively”, if you know what I mean…
    Wasn’t it George Costanza that said, among other things, ‘If you look angry people will think you’re busy at work’… or something like that… try that– but remember, YOU have to believe it too!
    I’ve always thought weekends were just for a *different* kind of work… Save the ‘fun’ jobs (if there are any) for Saturday / Sunday…


  16. Dear SD,

    Everyone deserves a rest day/sabbath. Find one, ask for help (I like the intern idea). I’ll have more ideas once I get through my midlife soul-, career-, and life-searching. Today’s topic is timely.

    Dr. B, you look marvelous today. Almost as cute as a goat.


  17. Dear SD:
    My, my — I thought I was writing from obscurity, and then I see myself, a professional, self-employed caretaker/advice-giver, mental health specialist plastered all over this blog. I swear that is a picture of me! Pearls, wig and all.

    I have to have an office to go to which helps a lot. When I come home I only do paperwork or other miscellaneous stuff on my laptop. My sister is an author/blogger and works at home. She has a home office, and only works from there. She does her blogs a week at a time so she gets some time off and can do book tours/signings. Once, I did a post for her.

    I love self-employment, which came as a complete surprise–never saw it coming that I’d do it, be good at it, or like it. That career surprise made me draw on an entirely new part of myself. Multiple personality can be helpful, too. That way if you fight with your boss you have a distinct part of yourself to fight with and carp about to others. You are right, though: the manager of the self-employment gig is a harridan.


      1. I’m the incredible shrinking woman (psychotherapy), but clearly NOT Incredible Betty. Website attached to my name. If I see anyone on this blog as a client I apologize. This persona is closer to the real, and very crabby, ME. The rest of my life away from the office is spent tending family, gardens, and creating art. Since I must sit somewhat still at work, I move constantly away from the office. It helps me not work all the time, which I could easily do. My inner Enron/BP CEO has emerged.


  18. I’m considering working for the same boss Dale, I think he’s the only one hiring someone with my skills and personality right now. He may require working on the weekend, but said he won’t question when I say I’m going to a daughter’s school event and such. We’ll see how it goes.


  19. Regarding working in a special space or working at home . . . we freelancers have a phrase for working at home. It goes something like “working halfway between your bed and the refrigerator.”

    Anticipate 15 pounds per year, depending a little on how many feet the fridge is from your working area.


  20. Whenever I had my own business, I too had no free time. I’m glad there are a few who know how to do that boundary thing.

    I’m with Cynthia in Mpls. – everyone deserves a sabbath – there’s a cool book out on the topic (by Wayne Muller). I think we should help by all taking one day (Sunday?)off from the blog. And SD: plan an outing one day a week at least to get you away from the infernal office.


  21. Dear SD –

    What can I add that hasn’t already been said? Everyone needs some time off to unwind and rejuvenate. If your slave-driver boss sets unreasonable expectations, perhaps you need to talk with that boss about what she has laid out and what is humanly possible.

    I would also recommend (keeping in mind that I am, no surprise, a bit of an extrovert) that even if the slave driver boss keeps you at your desk 7 days a week (totally unreasonable), that you plan time away to see other people. Plan a lunch, go out for coffee, something to get away from your desk. I have learned that I could not work from home for too long, regardless of the boss, simply because I need to interact face-to-face with people who are not my family.

    (And Dale, don’t feel like you need to blog 7 days/week unless you really enjoy it – we’re all, at least theoretically, grown-ups and heaven knows we can keep ourselves entertained…at least for a day or two.)


  22. Got woken up with the news that our credit card was billed by MPR 2 days ago, after I received an email saying our sustaining membership had been cancelled.

    Excuse me while I go find the appropriate person to growl at…


  23. Self employment does have tremendous benefits. You get a real sense of accomplishment when you eat what you catch. By which I mean I land some work, get paid which miraculously fills up the fridge. Also as you can imagine there are no office politics to get caught up in. You can concentrate on being effective.

    Self employment also has challenges. When you don’t have work it is easy to spend all your time pursuing new work even when it is dubious. I did a lot of messing around on line between jobs doing “research” that was a waste of time. Set boundaries, schedule time off, or work on personal projects with specific goals like it was work.

    In the end I have sort of hybrid situation of self employment and employee, because I work with some companies so regularly. Now the balance is perfect, it just took some time to achieve.


  24. Well, my husband and I are state employees and are supposed to work 8-5 m-f, but we are often working on weekends just to keep up with paper work deadlines that can’t possibly be met during the work week. I know it would be worse if we were in private practice. My father was his own boss and he worked all the time. I think he was happier in the long run, though, and made a great transition into retirement. He’s 89 and finally umpired his very last high school baseball game (Pipestone vs Montevideo) at the Metrodome in April. He said all the elevators were turned off and he had to walk up and down lots of stairs and it was a long hike to home plate and he had to take three nitro pills, but he made it, and had the time of his life. He got home at 5 am on the Pipestone team bus. He still has 19 girls volleyball games in Sioux Falls next winter but all he does is stand on a table, so that isn’t too hard on him.


      1. Thanks, Barbara. He’s starting to slow down somewhat now, but he always manages to have fun, and he made a point of having fun when he was working, too. He was a small business owner, and ran a coffee shop-gas station-car wash-pub combo that was a local gathering place in our town. It’s really important for him to stay connected to people, and he has done that since he retired. He drives for the RSVP, taking people to their medical appointments, and also volunteers at the local Veteran’s nursing home and hospital. We met him and my mom in Fargo two weeks ago, and I noticed he’s not real comfortable driving in lots of traffic in an unfamiliar town, but he manages pretty well. He drives in Sioux Falls all the time, but he’s known that city all his life.


  25. I’m still pretty new to this auspicious congress of Baboons, after presumptuously inserting myself into it just this last week. But I got such nice responses from all of you after my first post that I thought I had fallen into a bunch of closet therapists! And now I understand that it IS a group of Dr. Babooners, nee Heartlanders. Thank you all for being so welcoming!

    I don’t know you at all, Clyde, but you have me worried. Please let us know how things turn out.

    Dale, your response to me was so warm and welcoming. Thank you for taking the time to do that. It was a wonderful thing for me. And I have to quote what you wrote to me right back at you, “We want you healthy!” By all means, take some time off! I was really surprised to see that you had written anything at all this morning! Don’t let the harridan take your peace of mind, dear non-confrontational, Velvet Fog, Peace Man. Take care of yourself. I have a feeling this group will be there for you on Monday or whenever you feel the urge to take up your pen (keyboard) and write.

    Too bad about the rights to Incredible Betty and Cap’n Billy and Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty and Bud Buck and Congressman Beechly and Bubby and all the others. Hopefully MPR won’t use them for anything (like a commercial or something). That would be tough to take. I guess those of you who are writers must be accustomed to it. I’ve never published anything I’ve written. You have so much courage.

    Anyway, take time off! Rest up! The world is a tough and scary place! I should know, my neighbor cut the blooms off my lilies yesterday. And I refuse to give that *$# )* a %#*@^ anymore of my emotional energy or time. Also, most HR people can’t be trusted.
    Peace to all of you – Krista W.


    1. Krista, we have picked up a few new regulars in the last week or so, so very rich an addition to the group. I should not have raised my issues here, sorry. Will not whine anymore, but will let you know as answers appear, which will not likely be for 2 weeks to six weeks, depending on the issue.


      1. Waterville is approximately 25 miles east of Lime Valley on the aforementioned, pitbull infested Sakatah Trail. Yes, the Bullhead Capital of the World.


      2. Wow. We are getting quite a group down mere all of a sudden. Owatonna to Waterville to Kato to St. Peter.


  26. Dear Driven,
    What, exactly, is your complaint about working all the time? Are you saying you’re not a Lutheran–not even a Protestant, maybe?

    In all seriousness, I think about this matter all the time (from my perch in academe, a place that embodies some of the best and the worst of self-employment, but also corporate America, the nonprofit sector, the church, fraternal organizations, democracy, the guild system, and the Knights Templar, all rolled up into one ball of neurotic-attracting goo). And here’s what I think:

    I think the problem is the work/leisure distinction. It’s an artifice. I invite you to think (in the words of Mary Catherine Bateson) about the idea of “composing a life.” Strive to make each day one in which you grow in ways that matter to you–some of which obviously are financial. But acknowledge the fact that your best writing idea might–just might–come to you when you are picking out tomato plants, or running to catch the ice cream truck, or reading a comic book…or even (heck) sleeping! (For more on the fact that your brain IS active while sleeping, check out “The Brain Science Podcast.”) Invite yourself to think that you will ONLY be “productive” if you run for ice cream–and then fake it till you make it.

    And then please send me back this post later in the summer, when I’m convinced that only by chaining myself to my desk will I be a Worthy Person, and meanwhile, the sun and the tide are both high, and my kayak is getting dusty from disuse….

    (Can anyone guess why I don’t Twitter?)


    1. Hey, Lisa, way up north there: have you read “Straight Man” by Richard Russo? Fun look at small college politics.


    2. I think you have really hit on something, Lisa. My grandfather was a farmer in Scott County until his mid 80’s-livestock (including dairy cattle) as well as crops.

      I once commented that it was a lot of work, his reply was-oh, I enjoyed it (you have to know as you read that, that I thought he had posed for Grant Wood’s American Gothic ).

      I think he really did, and did not see time in the barns or fields as work-time, vs. the rest of his life.

      I’ll also agree with a comment above that my self-employment boss is a lot more flexible about my hours-if I want to do something at my son’s school, she is just fine with that (even if it means I am working for her at 2am to make-up the time.

      I’ll also put in a vote for the practice of Sabbath-whichever day you choose to take.

      Shabbat Shalom, ya’ll


    3. Lisa in St. Peter, you have provided balm for my soul (and just when you thought you were talking to SD…). I have been having an on-again-off-again internal debate about some of my job and career choices, which have mostly allowed me to be content, but not always rewarded financially or in a higher status. It can get depressing if I think too much that the three bosses above me are all younger than I…but I guess I was too busy composing my life. Thanks for that!

      (And I don’t think I could “tweet” either – 140 characters is to confining.)


    4. I often wonder why society maintains standard “office hours” from 8 to 5, when office work doesn’t depend on sunlight and work environments often don’t have any exterior windows.

      Wouldn’t it make so much more sense to start at 12 noon or whatever other arbitrary time, leaving at least half of the daylight to run errands?

      Presumably there are problems with this arrangement I haven’t considered, never having worked an off-cycle shift like Dale has, but when I go to work in the dark of winter mornings and leave in the dark of winter evenings I can’t help thinking there MUST be a way to get more people their sunlight. (I count myself lucky to be getting an exterior window at my next job.)


  27. Composing a life – I like that. I also love the way rainy Saturdays help me slow down here in the city. Lisa don’t let that kayak get dusty! Woof to Tilde.


  28. Yikes – I’m gone for two days and an entire saga has been concluded and a new saga is underway!
    Dear Slave Driven – I wonder if your new boss was actually at your previous place of employment, but she was hiding under your desk. I’ll bet when you got home after cleaning out your desk from your old job, she was already sitting in your chair at the computer making ‘to do’ lists for you, right? I think she may have always been there, but couldn’t fully materialize until the time clock was vaporized.
    I have heard from others that one way to chase that Slave Driver away for a while is 1) to play as hard as you work, or 2) change your work to play – kids do this all the time and it seems to work for them.
    Also – I would read every person’s comments in this advice column – there is a lot of wisdom up there!

    PS – Is Dr Babooner wearing pearls of wisdom? Or is that a version of the proverbial ball-and-chain around her neck?


  29. How ironic. Dale’s Saturday night replacement is a blues program. Yes, MPR, we’re blue too. I like blues music but listening to the first hour, I’d like a little more music, a little less talk.

    Momkat of Apple Valley


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