Friday, January 28, 2011


I had had a lot of faith in my job that turned out to be disappointing and misguided. During that quarantine time I had been getting assigned cases that somehow I wasn’t allowed to talk to. However, I took this as a good sign that eventually they expected me to be able to work them (guess it turned out to be the old left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing). I had hoped they would remember that during my initial interview I had said “I’ve come here to work with families long term,” during a follow up interview for a more specific caseload I had said “I came here to carry a caseload and want to keep doing it.” When a higher up had encouraged me to apply for a management type position, I said “I’m here to work with families when I’m ready to stop doing that or need to make more money, I’ll go somewhere else.” But the department forgot that or didn’t care and decided to send me where I wouldn’t carry one.

I requested an appeal and it was set up for the next day at 3:00. While I had little time at all to think or prepare for it, I did what I could. I asked several attorneys if they were willing to write a letter on my behalf. One didn’t say yes deciding to stay out of internal politics, an answer that was more than acceptable; another did something that did bother me: they said yes but then didn’t write it. Still, I went in there with several attorneys letters stating that I should be allowed to continue as a court officer and that was a better use of my skills…because it was.

I handed these to one of the deputy chiefs and she was kind enough to put them immediately to the side without reading them and essentially said in official type language said that due to my inability to drive, I was a liability. I pointed out that my job description didn’t include driving and that was less than a day’s work in a month times but it was quickly apparently that liability won the day. I argued to give me a chance to continue at my job and if I couldn’t do it to fire me. I would ride the bus or do whatever was necessary and if I didn’t complete all the tasks at the same level I previously had within the same 40 hours then they were welcome to to fire me. My arguments fell on deaf ears that felt as if they had no humanity. I had worked here for five years and absolutely loved it; I’d mentioned to friends that I intended to retire from it. That day I seriously questioned how I had missed that we had so little concern about their employees. In my mind it would have been one thing if I was asking for help but I was merely asking to be allowed to do my job with exactly zero accommodations. The initial human resources contact should have been a clue but perhaps the bigger clue was that when I was in the hospital Joe and David, my boss’s bosses had visited and had said that “this higher up and that higher up” send their greetings. That might have been true politically but when I visited for the Thanksgiving lunch and since I had returned to work, not one of those people who had “sent their greetings” had managed to even say hello. During this appeal, the conclusion essentially ended with me being told to clean out my office and report to intake on Monday. I hated this very quickly because I’ve long said you are what you do. If you run, you’re a runner, if you smoke you’re a smoker, your job is part of who you are because its 40 hours or more of what you do. Now my job a huge part of my identity was a symptom of cancer.

Everyone for about a month had been asking how I was sleeping with my answer being: “With my eyes closed, how are you sleeping?” This diagnose hadn’t disrupted me much because I’d been living life the way I wanted to…it wasn’t the fear of dying early that finally disrupted my sleep, it was the fact that I’d be robbed of life well in advance. I turned to a couple of friends that night, crushed from that appeal and said “I need a win.”

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