Boiling Points And Slaying Dragon Ladies

I’ve realized I have a cantankerous side. People who know me well will tell you that it’s a rarity for me to lose my temper. In fact, one of my biggest flaws is that I’m too controlled. But I have this line…and once it’s crossed, all bets are off.

Why am I telling you this? Because tonight someone asked me how I wound up in Florida.

My buddy Robert will relate to this story as he believes in turning the other cheek…but only twice since he only has two.

I took a job at the hospital I worked at back in the late ’90’s. I guess you’d consider it a promotion and I should’ve been pleased, but I enjoyed the position I held prior to this one and wasn’t in any rush to leave it. The thing was, there were only two people in that particular hospital that were capable or qualified to do the job. One was only part time and in school. The other person? Me.

I liked my direct boss, so when she asked me to take on the role as a personal favor, I agreed. Then a new executive came in to run our group of departments.  We’ll call her The Dragon Lady. (And I use the term Lady loosely) Her people skills were so strong that she kicked off her first, introductory meeting with the departments by sitting everyone down and saying, “You should be happy to be here. If you’re not happy to be here, find a reason to be happy to be here. If you can’t find a reason to be happy to be here, then maybe you should leave.”

Yeah…definitely gave ME the warm and fuzzies…and that was Strike 1.

My position with the company required that I go over every single in and out patient registration with a fine toothed comb and ensure proper segments and insurance was billed properly. When the information was incorrect, it was my job to correct it, coach the employee and re-drop the bill. This meant I had anywhere from 800 to 1000 registrations per day to review. I was about 6 days out, but the ideal was to be no more than 5 days out. Unfortunately there was only 1 of me…

One day my boss calls me into her office. Waiting inside…you guessed it…The Dragon Lady. Here is how the conversation with her rolled out.

DL: I want you to be no more than 3 days out an all registrations. Where are you now?
Me: I’m 6 days out.
DL: How soon will it take to get you to 3 days out?
Me: With overtime? Probably 3 days.
DL: Then get that done.
Me: Ok.
DL: I can be the best friend you had or the worst enemy you’ve ever made.
Me: Okay…
DL: I can make your career or I can break it. And I support the people I like. Otherwise I can crush you.
Me: Okay…
Direct boss pipes in: Dragon Lady, in her defense, she was perfectly happy in the job before she took this one. She took it as a personal favor to me and because she was one of two people in the entire place qualified and the only one able to do the job.
DL: If you want me on your side, you’ll get that done.

What she couldn’t see was that in my head she’d just gotten Strike #2!

My husband was my boyfriend back then and knew how miserable I was. Between the long hours I was working (10-12 hrs and 6 day work weeks) and the way she talked to me, he knew something had to give. He gave me the green light to post my resume online. So I did! I didn’t even apply for any jobs…just posted it….when I got a call. A hospital on the west coast of Florida wanted to interview me. So, I walked into my direct boss’ office and told her I needed a personal day and reminded her that I had never taken any time like that before…and that I couldn’t answer any questions about the why. She gave it to me.

When I got back at 8 am, the Dragon Lady (who, incidentally, was never in before 10 am) was in my office waiting for me.

Now if you know the arrogant management types…then you know the power plays that come along with them. Often, if you’re told the boss’ boss is in your office…and said boss is a douche…you can count on them taking “the power position”…the seat at your desk. They leave you with the guest chair…their way of saying it’s their universe and you’re just lucky enough to be living in it.

This move would have been typical of her breed of people. Oddly enough, when I came in, she was sitting in my guest chair. Between the being at work a minimum of 2 hours prior to her normal time and sitting in my guest seat, I knew something was up.

As I sat my bag down our conversation happened:

DL: So, a little birdie told me that you went on an interview.
Me: (Thinking…so THAT’S what this is all about) Your little birdie heard correctly.
DL: You know, we absolutely love you here.
Me: (Looking at her in disbelief) Thank you. (She was fishing and she wanted to know how serious I was about leaving. In fact, if I’d have mentioned a raise, I would’ve gotten it.)
DL: You’re a hard worker.
Me: I’m glad you think so.
DL: We don’t want to lose you.
Me: Well, you know, you said something at your first meeting that really resonated with me.
DL: (Her ego puffing up) Oh, really? What did I say?
Me: On your first day you told us “You should be happy to be here. If you’re not happy to be here, you need to find a reason to be happy to be here. If you can’t find a reason to be happy to then you should go somewhere else.” So I took your advise!
DL: Oh.

I don’t think very many people had ever talked to her that way…and used her words against her. But I meant every word…because I never forgot. And it felt good! I then gave my two weeks notice and moved to Florida.  Oddly enough, it took 3 people with overtime to replace the one me. And one of them ended up in the CCU unit because of the stress.

As for the Dragon Lady…she only lasted another year or two longer in her position. Every time I’ve gone back to my old stomping grounds and run into someone I know in that department, I’m offered a job. Funny thing…I left in 1999!

What about you? Where is your temper threshold? What happens when you get pushed? What is the closest you ever got to saying Eff you to a boss?

 

Hold On Tight

I don’t have words,

Just an ache inside my soul

Helpless,

Just like everyone else.

All I can give,

All I have to offer

Are prayers

For comfort,

For a community of support.

An unpenetrable wall of love

To surround those families.

Be with them, Lord.

The unthinkable has happened

Again.

I Bled For You

First and foremost, I want to say Happy Veteran’s Day. If you are a Vet and have served for your country…regardless of which country it is, know that I appreciate you and the job you did. I am sure it was not easy.

My blog posts the last couple of days have been fun and sexy, so I felt I needed to give notice…this next post is in honor of Veterans Day and is a little bit different. I was compelled to write a short story this morning. Most of you are well aware that the military is near and dear to my heart. Having grown up a child of the military has opened my eyes to all sorts of experiences and opportunities to really appreciate people and different cultures.

If you were ever made to feel that your contributions to our freedoms were not appreciated or respected, please know I appreciate you and the freedoms that you’ve enabled me to enjoy. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. We’ve had so many wars lately that many have not always agreed with. You were doing your duty and your obligation…regardless of whether you agreed with the reasons or the politics. You didn’t deserve to get caught in the crossfire. I’m sorry.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He was tired. Mentally, emotionally. The weight of guilt and grief and anger were a heavy mantle around his shoulders. Today when his little girl came home in tears because of him had been more than he could take. Feeling like a failure, he’d gotten into his car and drove.

Pete knew he should have probably let his wife know he was leaving. She would worry. She was a good wife and didn’t deserve all the hardships and sacrifices she’d been forced to face, mostly alone. He just couldn’t help himself. After looking into his 6 year old girl’s tear stained face and coaxing the story out of her he’d needed an escape. He didn’t want her to see the rage that was floating close to the surface.

Looking around, he found himself in the middle of nowhere. Up ahead, to the right, there looked to be an old abandoned church. The tiny building with it’s dark wooden doors flung open seemed to beckon him from the road. As he pulled up and put his car into park he noticed the decay. Tall weeds surrounded the building everywhere except along the rubble path and the steps made of carved gray stone. The white paint curled and chipped with heat and age.

Stepping out of his vehicle he looked up at the little cross at the steeple. He walked carefully up the steps noting the cobwebs in the corners of the door jams. Although the doors were open with welcome, it was obvious to him that no one had been here in a long time.

He contemplated the dark, scarred wood that made up the cross in the front of the sanctuary. His feet led him forward, down the aisle. Stopping at the second pew, he glanced down. They were in good condition.

“What the heck,” he thought to himself as he sat down, “I’ve got nowhere to go anyway.”

Gazing up at that cross he started talking.

“I didn’t ask for this war. I believe in this country and what it stands for. I enlisted hoping to better myself. I wanted to provide a better life for my wife and my daughter.”

He laughed bitterly. “Little good that had done,” he thought. That same little girl that he’d wanted to give the world to, whose birth he’d missed because he’d been deployed, was the same adorable face that had looked up at him, eyes swimming in tears.

“You look like you’re in a crisis of faith, son,” a voice came from beside him.

Looking over, he saw a gentleman sitting beside him. He must have been so lost in his thoughts that he didn’t even hear the man join him. In coveralls, little chips of wood and sawdust in his dark brown hair and clothing, the man was fairly nondescript. Pete figured he was probably a carpenter.

He tried for a friendly smile, but only succeeded with a grimace, “It’s been a rough day.” He snorted softly as he rolled his eyes, “Who am I kidding? It’s been a rough few years.”

“Care to talk about it?” The man asked warmly. “Sometimes it helps to tell a stranger.”

Pete didn’t trust easily, especially after the welcome he’d received when he’d gotten home from overseas. This war was doing some crazy things to this country he loved so much. Something about this man called to him.

He found himself speaking, “My six year old came home from school today, crying.”

He swallowed hard, blinking back tears of his own as her precious face swam into his memory, “She was playing with the neighbor kids in their yard when she overheard a couple of the parents talking. One of the parents said that they thought it was ridiculous that we were even in this war. That our soldiers were out there murdering innocent people for a selfish cause that nobody agreed with. As other parents nodded agreement someone else added that they couldn’t believe that soldiers just went along with it. According to these people I should have voiced my disagreement and insisted on coming home.”

Pete ran his fingers through his razor short hair and looked into the sympathetic brown eyes. “They never considered the damage their hurtful words would do to those innocent six year old ears.”

He huffed out a breath, “Who am I kidding? I doubt they even cared. I came home from the war to be greeted by picketers, hate and angry words. Why should they care about how their words affect my wife and daughter?”

“Only your wife and daughter?” The man beside him asked, eyebrow raised in a very astute question.

“No,” Pete answered. “Not just them. I left today because I was so filled with hurt and rage. I didn’t even tell my wife I was leaving. She’s probably worried sick. I didn’t want them to see me that way! I feel betrayed! I serve for love of those same people who hurt my daughter. Who mocked my trip home. I’ve done it so they can enjoy their lives. Enjoy their freedoms. They don’t know. They have no idea what I’ve seen. What I’ve heard so that they can taunt me and make my daughter cry. I still hear the explosions in my head. The screams and chaos that follows never quite go away. I carry it all with me. In my heart. Scarred on my soul.”

He looked at the kindly stranger whose face was filled with such understanding, “Part of me wants to scream at them. I bled for you. I died a bit for you. Don’t you see I do this for you? How can you turn away from me so completely? How can you make my wife and child so sad for love of me?”

The man gently put his arm around Pete’s shoulder. “I know how you feel. It’s not easy to be turned away by the people you love so much. When all the things you’ve given up or missed seem unnoticed and unappreciated. Hang in there. Give them time. One day someone will realize what you’ve done and how deeply you loved them. Go home to your wife. Your daughter. Give them a hug. They love you.”

With that little bit of wisdom, the carpenter stood up and walked away.

Pete thought for a moment about what the man said and turned around to thank him for his kindness. The man was gone. As he looked back toward the cross, prepared to head back home, he looked up again. For the first time he noticed Jesus. He shook his head. He didn’t remember him being there when he first walked in.

Shrugging he walked to the car. As he pulled the car back onto the road he realized three things. First, the guy on the cross had a very familiar face. He looked an awful lot like the guy he’d been chatting with. Second, as he thought back to that man, he remembered the scars he’d seen on his new friend’s wrists. Third, those voices in his head had stopped screaming for the first time in years the moment he’d entered that church.

He bowed his head for a moment to say thanks. Someone understood his sacrifices all too well. It was time to go home.

~~~~~~~~

The life of a soldier isn’t easy…not on them, not on their family. Here’s a song for those still in service and overseas.

And for this country that I love…