Who Are You?

Honestly, I can’t even imagine who is coming here anymore.  Over the last year or so, it’s become incredibly apparent that the people who read this blog read it because in some form or another they get notification that a new post has been written.  (Hello.)  Some of you get an e-mail.  A lot of you see the links on Twitter, and some of you old-fashioned types (I’m one too, don’t worry) subscribe to the feed on Google Reader or something like it.  When I post a new post, my numbers sky-rocket (if you can call up to 30 hits sky-rocketing) and when I don’t post something new, I sometimes have days when I get no hits at all.

This is my first post in 26 days and yet, I’m still averaging three to four hits a day.  Who are you and why are you still coming here?

I’ve been very quiet for the last almost four weeks because I just don’t know what to say anymore.  Honestly, I’m not even sure why I’m here now, except that I finally have a day at work, where I don’t have anyone breathing down my neck and I’m not being bullied and badgered by The Troll and because my Firefox browser is open with all my tabs still available, so WordPress keeps staring me in the face.  I think it’s taunting me.

I’m basically all alone in the office today.  K and Bertha both called in sick and John is still in Hawaii (well, technically he’s back in Hawaii.  More on that later)  So I’m having to answer the phones and play Secretary for today making it difficult to do much of my own job, though after ten weeks of being slave-driven I’m hardly in the mood to slave away on anything anyway.

Things have not been good these last months and it has pushed me into a funk I’m finding it difficult to get out of.  The real problem is, I’m finding it difficult to care about getting out of it.  I’m so sick of me.  I’m sick of this life I live and these struggles I face.  I’m sick of …  I’m just sick.

I’m angry, too.  Angry at how powerless I am.  Angry at The Troll, because it is his actions that triggered this.  Certainly I realize he is not “to blame” but it is his behavior and his attitude toward me that started this downward trend and I feel like I’m too far gone to regain control.

Not long after John left for Hawaii, The Troll developed a misconception about myself and my co-workers with regard to our knowledge and skill level dealing with emergencies.  He asked a question in a staff meeting, our first with him after John left for his temporary assignment, and in which we were still given the misguided assurance that The Troll was “too busy with his own building to interfere with [us]”.  The question was asked in a light-hearted tone and was met with a joking response, but rather than probing or delving deeper, rather than showing that the question was sincere and needing a sincere answer, The Troll determined that none of my cohorts or I knew what to do in the event of an emergency.  (The fact that I have worked here for nine (excruciating) years and have been the Emergency Response Coordinator almost the entire time is, apparently, irrelevant.)  He decided that I needed to draft and train my co-workers, as well as building Security on emergency response procedures, which would be all well and good, except that he already told me I didn’t know what I  was doing.

I could go into depth on this issue, but the short version of the story is that he and I had an altercation wherein I was less “respectful” than he thinks I should be and he spent MORE THAN AN HOUR reprimanding me for it while I sat silently and looked at him with as neutral an expression as I could muster as he puffed himself up and told me how much better, specialer and wonderfuler he is than I.  The end result being that he is just like my mother; his way is the only way and if you don’t like it then STFU and pretend that you do, because any sort of disagreement WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.

The fact that my “disrespect” (which really wasn’t but is how he interpreted it) was the direct result of many weeks of The Troll calling me into meetings, almost daily and with less than two hours notice and no explanation of what the meetings were going to be about, and in spite of my multiple attempts to convey to him that this wasn’t working for me because it was hindering me accomplishing my pre-determined, assigned tasks and responsibilities also fell onto deaf ears.  His perspective is that his priorities and expectations are the only things that matter and if I have to put everything else off (regardless of impact on other people, customers or projects, not to mention my own personal priorities) then I’m damn sure going to do it and that’s all there is to it.  He told me so in almost these exact words.

This was followed by a threatened “work stoppage” (read: strike) of our union engineering staff, because the company we work for had dragged its heals for months giving them an offer on which the membership could vote.  There were suggestions of assigned responsibilities that are FAR outside of my scope of work; implications of tasks being assigned that are well beyond my comfort zone or willingness to comply (I was going to be asked to confiscate the engineers company owned equipment, keys, phones, credit cards, etc., even though I’m not a manager and would have to work with them when the “work stoppage” was over.)  And many, many more last-minute, mandatory meetings that required me to cancel other commitments and obligations without knowing until the meeting happened what it was actually to be about.

I drafted the emergency procedures as they exist in my department and in accordance with what John wants and The Troll decided to take it upon himself to make changes to the way we operate, knowing full well, that his time with us is limited and that John will be back soon.

The talks with the Union came down to the wire.  The company brought in replacement workers.  Calls were made to determine which service vendors would cross a picket line and tentative arrangements were made to contract with other parties to pick up any slack.  John came back from Hawaii (removing much of the burden from my shoulders that The Troll was trying to place.)  Finally, mere hours before the “work stoppage” was to commence, my company finally made an offer to the Union Representatives and the strike was called off.  John stayed two extra days and returned to Hawaii where he will remain until May 9th.

While John was here, I found out that The Troll reported our “altercation” to Human Resources as a “verbal warning”.  That’s all well and good except that The Troll did not specifically tell me that “this is a formal verbal warning” which he is required to do.  He also didn’t have me sign anything acknowledging this “corrective action” which I’m told, by a less than reliable source, is a requirement.  Fortunately, I had already reported the situation to HR myself because I genuinely feel that The Troll is targeting me with the hope of trying to fire me before John comes back.  I wanted to have the situation documented, but it also meant that I had to abandon all hope of having any sort of control of my own life and time, and “mind my Ps and Qs”, as they say, to make sure he had no grounds which he could misrepresent as being grounds for termination.

On St. Patrick’s day I responded to a report of a Medical Emergency in the building.  It’s not an uncommon occurrence.  People become overly stressed and have panic attacks; they become light-headed, or feel that they’re having trouble breathing.  We take it seriously and respond accordingly (call 911, wait for and escort the medics to the person, escort them back out of the building while trying to maintain some sense of order and personal privacy for the patient.)

Already that day, I had gone to the desk of a woman who had been having a severe asthma attack for forty minutes.  She didn’t have an inhaler but she did not want to call 911.  She wanted to sit “quietly” at her desk and wait it out (clearly that plan was working well so far) and when no one would allow that she wanted to drive herself to the pharmacy to pick up an inhaler refill.  When no one would allow her to do that she wanted to have someone take her to the pharmacy.  Finally I stepped in and told her, “Look.  You need oxygen and nobody is going to have that in their car.  And if we let you leave here with someone else and the situation gets worse, they’re not going to be able to help you.  You need to go in an ambulance.”

“Fine!” she growled at me, between gasps.  “Just don’t call 911!”

“OK.” I told her smiling, before I walked to the next desk and called 911.

She was fine.  And after being administered Albuterol by nebulizer she refused transport to the hospital.

So when I got the next call two and a half hours later, I didn’t expect much, yet another minor medical “emergency” to interrupt my day.  When I came around the corner and looked into the conference room, the first thing I saw was the Automatic External Defibrillator on the floor and I knew we were in trouble.  My blood ran cold.  If I walked into that room and announced myself as a trained EMT (with no experience and no one to guide me) I would be looked at to manage the situation… and what if I couldn’t?  What if I went in and took over and he died?  I was scared to go into the room.  I looked on as someone was administering CPR and at first I thought,  “she’s doing that wrong” because it looked like her elbows were bent, but then I noticed that her compressions were quite deep which she wouldn’t have been able to do if her elbows weren’t locked.

I managed the situation, from a Facility Management perspective and not a trained EMT (with no experience and no one to guide me) perspective.  There were a number of logistical issues that had to be dealt with after the Paramedics took the man away and I needed to be wearing my Facility Management hat anyway, but I felt guilty/insecure, that I didn’t/wasn’t able to jump in and take over the situation.  What if this means being an EMT isn’t for me.

I found out the next morning that the people in the conference room were all nurses and they jumped right to action when he went down.  The reality is, I couldn’t have done anything.  You never hand off care of your patient to someone with less training than you have.  Deb told me that it sounds like I did the right thing.  Naturally, I’m not hearing that.

I also found out the next morning that the man died.  I can’t help feeling like he’s the lucky one.

3 thoughts on “Who Are You?

  1. Oh, Kevin! I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but your job has become a toxic environment for you. No one should have to put up with the things you have.

    Don’t be so quick to sell yourself short on your EMT capabilities. You just earned your certification and haven’t had the opportunity to put your new found knowledge to use. Maybe this is the direction you need to go – for your own well being and sanity.


  2. You need to come to my work. If they don’t stop messing with me they are all going to need an EMT

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