Category Archives: work

Planned Obsolescence

I gave a lunchtime talk yesterday for our acute care department on how to treat separation anxiety in children.  My agency is severely understaffed for all sorts of therapists, and I am the only one who knows how to work with children.  We have an abundance of people seeking therapy for their children, and I can’t see all of them.  I plan to retire in two years, and it doesn’t look promising to find a replacement for me who knows how to do child therapy.  I need to make myself obsolete.

The dear folks in our acute care department are good social workers and counselors, but they are unaccountably terrified of treating children. They admit they are afraid of saying the wrong thing and ruining the child for life. That is irrational thinking on the staff’s part.  I decided that I need to train as many of them as I can before I leave so that they can feel comfortable treating children, and so that children’s services can continue after I leave. Separation anxiety is really easy to treat if you know how, and I thought it was a good place to start. They enjoyed the talk today, and want to know about Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct disorder next month.  I can hardly wait to give them the skinny on elimination disorders.

What would you like to teach people to do or to know about?

Speed Limit

On my way to work on Friday I was deep in thought and suddenly looked up to see a police cruiser on the side of the road – I was going 37 instead of 30. I immediately took my foot off the gas, but as I looked into the rear view mirror, I saw the cruiser pulling away from the curb and the flashing lights starting up.

All kinds of thoughts went through my brain: I don’t want to pay for a ticket, I don’t want any points on my license, do red cars get more tickets, I’m going to be late for work, what if I cry when the officer comes to my window.

Luckily someone in the other lane just behind me must have been going a bit faster than I was when we passed the radar; the cop pulled the other car over. I feel like I dodged a bullet and I went the speed limit all the way to work after that.

Have you ever gotten a traffic ticket of any kind?

Leaf Vortex Conspiracy

YA and her boyfriend raked the leaves yesterday. If you live in the Twin Cities you’ll be saying to yourself at this point “the last yard waste pick up was two weeks ago – why did she wait so long”.  Well, I’ll tell you why.  I live next door to the tree that waits until every other tree in Southwest Minneapolis has dropped its leaves to start shedding its own foliage.  Every. Single. Year.

In addition, we live in a leaf vortex, right in the middle of the block. My neighbors to the south routinely have 5-6 bags of leaves, my neighbors to the north 4-5 bags.  My house this year – 20 bags.  I really think that my neighbors have figured out a way to get their leaves to blow into my yard at this time of year.

It doesn’t help that I detest leaf raking. Actually that’s not quite true.  I don’t mind the raking part.  It’s the bagging part I don’t like, especially now that we have to use paper bags; the paper bags are so unwieldy and hard to fill.  This is kinda how I feel about yardwork… I don’t mind the work, I just hate the clean up.  A perfect gardening day is when YA follows me about and bags up all the weeds and detritus from my work!

Anything you’re sure of, even if it doesn’t make sense?


Cleaning Up

I don’t like cleaning. Organizing yes but cleaning no.  When I was living in Milwaukee I audited a class at the University of Wisconsin called “The Politics of Housework”. This was a LONG time ago but one of the things I remember about the class material was that housework is deeply dissatisfying for almost everybody due to its repetitive nature.  The housework never stays done.  No matter how earnestly you mop the floor, the dogs are going to wipe their muddy paws on it, probably within an hour.  This theory was very validating to me.

When YA was little, a co-worker asked me once how I get everything done and I replied “my house is dirty”. She laughed until she realized I was serious.  Then she laughed some more.  Any time I have a list of things to do, I can guarantee that cleaning is at the very bottom.  One of the upsides of entertaining a lot is that I’m forced to face the cleaning so my house doesn’t become a reality tv series.

With Nonny arriving on Monday, we’re in the last couple of days of getting the house clean (again). YA and I have a pretty good catalog of chores and luckily she likes to clean more than I do.  But mopping is still at the bottom of the list.

How do you get yourself to do the housework?

Work Stress

I would bet good money that the stress levels and alcohol consumption of people across the state who work in my department have risen geometrically over the past six months. We have been working  for several years to get ready for a roll out of a new and very needed electronic health record system. We have been trained and have been doing all manner of paper work to get ready for the transition from our current record system (about 16 years old) to the new one.  Due to problems beyond anyone’s control, it keeps getting pushed back. We were expecting the new system to start this Thursday, after two postponements this summer. Now it is postponed again. Uncertainty is difficult. The new system should simplify things at work and do all manner of good things.  It will do no good if it is started and it doesn’t work, though.

Change is so hard. Before our current medical record system was put in place, all our records were either hand written or typed by transcriptionists.  The angst when it was rolled out was palpable, as people were afraid of change and of computers. Some older employees even retired early so as to not have to deal with it. Now, those who I remember as opposed to the introduction of the old system are clinging to it like a dog to a meaty bone. How time alters things.

Have changes at work been stressful for you? How do you cope with work stress?  

The March of the Policy Makers

I am attending a conference in my role as a member of a regulatory board.  The focus of the conference is professional competency, mobility in employment, and international standards in ethics and professional conduct. These are quite important topics when you have to consider how to evaluate foreign trained professionals for licensure in your jurisdiction,  but my is it boring to listen to for 4 days.  When it gets too tedious I surreptitiously check my email or the Trail,  imagine everyone in weird hats, or else marching around to this Elgar Pomp and Circumstance March I Heard on MPR before I Ieft home.  I see others seated around me doing similar things, so I don’t think I am the only one who needs some stimulation.

Tell about how you handle boredom.  What is the most boring, tedious thing you ever had to do? What is your favorite march?

Unexpected Encounters

I was shopping at Walmart the other day when I turned my cart into the baking supplies aisle and encountered a strange scene. A young female Walmart employee  was on her hands and knees, weeping, as she peered under the shelving.  Two other employees were also peering under the shelving. One explained that the weeping woman was stocking the shelves when her wedding ring flew off her finger and settled somewhere on the floor in the dark recesses under the baking supplies.  It caused quite a bottleneck in the aisle, but shoppers were very understanding and respectful and we all wished them luck in their search.

The next day I was back again in Walmart, this time in the dairy aisle, when I encountered the formerly weeping employee busily restocking the sour cream. I saw that she had no ring on, and stopped to ask her if she had found her ring. She explained happily that she had, under the pallets of sugar, and that she no longer wore her ring to work. I told her I was very happy for her. Then, unexpectedly, she asked if she could give me a hug.  I, of course said yes, and we embraced in front of all the pudding and sour cream and chip dip.

I treasure these sort of encounters. I work with people all day, but it is somewhat artificial, with a power differential that is always there.  Unexpected interactions with people when we are both just people are so nice.

When is it easy for you to be with people? When is hard? Tell about some fun, unexpected encounters with people.