Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Cast of Characters
I just had my 90-day review at work, after 76 days actually physically at work or 133 days since my hire date, so, you know, give or take. We're not math people here. We can help the numbers to feel better about themselves, but apparently we can't do anything with them in a quantifiable sense.

Aside from an off-the-cuff meeting with Supervisor N, having passed the 90-day mark also empowers me to provide scathing reviews of a few of my very favorite coworkers. Because I said so.

Number one, of course, is Perfect J. She brings perfection to a higher level... high enough to induce nosebleeds and random outbursts of sheer unadulterated rage, at least in me. She looks a lot like Maria Shriver, considers running to be her major hobby, and proudly refers to herself at work as the Queen of Resources. Which means she knows everyone and everything and therefore she can spot an error on your part a mile away, and will happily point this out. Ad nauseum.

The difficult thing about Perfect J is that she's actually a nice person and I enjoy chatting with her when we're just sitting around waiting for people to go crazy, but when it comes to work things, I get a small but constant stream of criticism and errors. Not on my clinical work - for the most part, my job consists of waiting for the phone to ring, then going to a hospital to see people who are on the verge of suicide or some other dark and difficult mental place, to decide whether to hospitalize them or send them home, have them spend a week in an exotic spa, whatever. And I've never gotten a complaint - which, in this field, trust me. If I was screwing up, people would let me know. Clients complain.

But the other side of my job is administrative crap. Each time I see someone, I have to fill out at least three distinct forms, sometimes more. Lots of repetition in data, lots of places to sign, and 90% of the time I do it right. But for that last 10% of the time, when I forget to sign something or it's not turned in on Perfect J's timeline (which, incidentally, doesn't match the timeline of the people whose job it actually is to deal with the paperwork), it gets pointed out to me faithfully. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. So the end result is, I get a steady stream of negative feedback about the times I screwed up, with no recognition of the times I did it right and no reference to the actual important work I do, you know, seeing clients and all.

Yes, Perfect J is a challenge. Because it's not her job to check my paperwork, or to criticize me when I've screwed up - but she's got just enough OCD to make her feel like she needs to. The word "uptight" keeps flashing in my head, but I can't quite decide how to fit it into conversation.

Then there's Curmudgeonly J, who is an entirely different can of cranky and bitter worms. If Andy Rooney put on some weight and got off his happy pills, he would closely resemble Curmudgeonly J in appearance and attitude, but they are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. He tends to get very riled up about certain things, and he wins a lot of arguments with the time-honored method of Interrupting and Ignoring. But in a twisted way, I kind of like Curmudgeonly J, because I think he's hugely intelligent and thoughtful... and he doesn't try to correct me.

Let's not forget Sanctimonious P. He comes across as someone who is constantly laughing at you, not with you. He will occasionally make statements to me like, "You're not willing to go on-call an hour before your shift starts? Is that what I'm hearing? That you're not willing to do your job?" And then, later on in the conversation to follow up with, "I'm not interested in having anyone call me before my shift starts. I'm not available beforehand." And he is distinctly unamused if you are so crass as to remind him of his first comments when confronted with the second.

There are a few others in my department, but the thing is, I actually like them. So I'll leave 'em alone.

Our supervisor, Supervisor N, is a nice woman with enough of a sense of humor to prevent her from getting uptight or despotic. A nice characteristic in a boss, I think. She tends to leave the department alone to run itself much of the time, which allows Perfect J to continue to feel over-responsible for other people's work and Curmudgeonly J to bitch about it. But when we talked today, I felt like she heard what I was saying, which is really all I want at work. Someone to hear what I'm saying, whether or not they actually do anything with it.

Then there's me. I was told at my review this morning that I do excellent clinical work but I'm viewed as somewhat of a lone wolf, not quite interested in trying to fit into the "team." You're darn tootin' I'm not interested! I told her that I'm primarily in the job for a paycheck and health insurance, and that I completely lack ambition to climb the corporate ladder or come up with new and innovative ways to reach the community, or whatever other enthusiastic things might earn me a gold star under the "Plays Well With Others" category. I want to have a cordial and relaxed work environment, but I'm not at work to make friends. (That's what the Internet is for, ha ha!)

And, all of this, she understood and accepted. Yippee.

So, there. Now you know. I work 3 12-hour shifts a week, two with Perfect J, with a 4-hour staff meeting that brings the whole circus together. We're just one big happy - in fact, giddy - family.