And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tearing Out My Hair

The staff that was supposed to come in this morning to work and relieve me was - once again - a no call, no show. I can't even believe it. When I called, they didn't even answer their phone. In the ten days since I have been back at work, we have had 3 folks not show and not call, and one quit after 3 days with no notice given at all.

It drives me nuts. Seriously.

First off, not showing up and not calling for work is just plain rude. It means that I am stuck at work until I can find someone to come in to cover the shift. I work with Vulnerable Adults, so I can't just buzz out when my shift is over. It's not like a desk job or something that can be left alone for any length of time. Not showing up like that shows disrespect for me, the clients, and the company. It also makes me rip-roaring mad, which is never good. I tend to get a little...well, mean to folks who are so selfish.

It really burns me that the staff that are doing this are staff that came on board begging for as many hours as possible. They talked about how their hubby/boyfriend/whatever had been out of a job for so long, their phone had been shut off, the mortgage was two months late, their kids needed new get the idea. So then we (miraculously) found some extra hours in the schedule that needed filling. There were nearly fistfights breaking out as staff tried to take as many of the new hours as possible. Everyone needed that extra cash so durn bad. But then when it is time to come into work, they don't show.

You would think that, with the economy being what it is, that they would all be working their butts off to make sure that they kept their job. Especially after telling such awful stories of how much they really need a job.

And then I start wondering "what is so bad about this job that I am just not seeing"? Seriously. I don't always like what my boss says or does, but mostly because I think she is to easy on staff, not because she is so tough to work for. And the clients are a pain sometimes (and have been lately, with all the upheaval in their lives), but for the most part they are nice enough and more than willing to follow the daily routines without much fuss. Sure I have to wipe the occasional backside, and listen to the guys yell when they are ticked. Sure I have to cook and clean and make sure they are safe....but that isn't all THAT hard. Really, anyone can do it.

That (sorta) brings me to my next issue. Imagine, if you will, that you have been living in the same house for 10 years or so. Everything is just about the way you like it. You know when bath time is, when meals will be served, what the rules are, and where to find things. You know that cupboard x holds your massive collection of puzzles, and that the dishrags are kept on shelf y. Meals, though not really imaginative, are familiar and tasty. You have a routine that is comfortable and comforting. You are content.

One day, half a dozen strangers come into your home. They start moving the furniture around, and don't know that the green blanket is yours and that the red one goes to your roommate. They start cooking meals that look and taste different. They hang new pictures in place of the ones you are used to looking at, and your puzzles have been moved to goodness knows where. All of a sudden bedtime and mealtimes have changed, and you really don't know what to expect every day.

Regardless of whether or not you like the new foods and new furniture, you are going to feel unsettled, right? You are going to be a little cranky when you see strangers messing with your stuff. They are moving things and changing things, and you can't stop them.

Now imagine that your cognitive abilities are impaired, and you can't understand why they are there or why they are making these changes. All of a sudden, what was a minor irritation becomes a life-altering experience. The routines that give your life structure and keep your anxiety and stress level at a minimum are gone, leaving you uncertain and frightened.

That's what my poor clients have been going through lately. New staff are convinced that they know better than the more experienced staff what the guys need, and are changing everything all at once. Understandably, my clients are acting out in the only way they know how. It is so frustrating to see my guys behaving badly in order to show their displeasure and discomfort only to be scolded for misbehaving when it is all the staff's fault. And I can't fix it for them until I convince everyone on the team that changes have to be made s-l-o-w-l-y for these guys. They need a chance to adjust to every little change. They need a long time to adjust. To everything. They are so dependent on their routines. One little change can throw them off for the whole day.


Not that I am saying that all things have to be the same all the time. Sometimes, a new staff will come on the scene with a fresh perspective and have really good ideas. But it needs to be done carefully and slowly to be effective and keep the guys from getting all confused and scared.

Ok. Rant over.


The Rambling Taoist said...

I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit!! My wife has worked with vulnerable populations for years and it takes a special kind of person to do the job and to do it well. Most people don't fall into that category. While the job may be physically easy (at times, mind you), it is emotionally very taxing and far too many people don't like to have their emotions taxed!

That said, I agree with you that it is very unprofessional and disrespectful simply to not show up for work, particularly in this kind of setting.

I can also state that, as a person with Asperger's, I really understand the point about having routines disrupted. I'm smart as a tack, yet I become easily discombobulated when my patterns are cast aside for no apparent reason.

Wendy said...

You said "anybody" can do your job, and I have to disagree. Maybe anyone can perform the mechanics of the job (cooking, cleaning, tending), but there's a lot more to your job than just that. I think it takes a very special kind of person to be able to do the job you do, and I think the "company" is very lucky to have you.

Deb said...

Your writing shows your deep empathy and compassion for your clients; something the new staff have yet to learn. I never take a day off without calling in, and I'm usually not leaving anyone hanging if I don't show up!

barefoot gardener said...

Thank you, all, for the kind words. It is difficult for me to think of what I do as anything special, I guess.

RT- I, too, am a creature that relies quite heavily on routine. One little thing 'off' and my whole day feels wrong. Too often, some small change in my day has snowballed into near disaster because I wasn't able to keep my head on straight! ;)

jenny said...

Oh barefoot, I know how it feels to have to cover for someone that was just too inconsiderate to call in and/or make arragements to cover their absences. And like people above, it DOES take a special person to do the job you do. Not everyone has the patience to deal with certain people like that and can't understand what the big deal is about routine.

I'm a routine-kind of person, too, and after I quit smoking, it was harder to break the habit of heading to 7-11 before work for a pack of cigs and a mountain dew than it was to actually quit smoking.

Hang in there hon, and hopefully some responsible people will get hired to replace the dicks.