For the first time in a long, long time, I do not dread going to work.
Until now, I have rarely had a job that I liked. I mean really liked. All my other jobs were means to some end or other. This one, I think, while may end up being a means to an end, it’s also an end in itself. For once, I am not desperately seeking the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m enjoying the ride.
Out of high school, I worked at a daycare, and more often than not, given my age and stage of life, I went in hung over and on too little sleep. I did not like that job. I knew the parents’ cars and was always aware of exactly how many kids needed to leave before I would get to go home.
Then I worked at a law firm for a summer, where I made coffee for lawyers and their snooty secretaries. Or I delivered mail. Or I shredded things. More than once the human resources director hauled me into her office and asked if I took my job seriously. Hell, no, my mind was screaming, but I made nice and stuck it out until a week or two before school started again, when I told them a relative had died and I was quitting early to go somewhere far away for the funeral.
Then there was the time I worked for the Member of Parliament, stamping “Congratulations on the occasion of your 100th birthday” letters with his signature. That was a cool job, until I became disillusioned about the rapidity with which people with expense accounts lose their idealism and sell out to that which guarantees them another four years with said expense account.
Oh, and there was the bookstore. I did like the book store, for a while (which makes me wonder exactly how long I will like this one). I spent my days surrounded by the smell of old books. I had an excuse to read (I called it “familiarizing myself with the stock”), but I knew the stock so well that I could picture the spine of a book that a customer requested. I worked there from the time the store opened, until almost 5 years in, when I had two children, and discovered that the life of a bookseller does not leave room in the budget for daycare costs. And it goes without saying that babies and $1000 books do not co-exist harmoniously. And catering to the idiosyncracies of many fellow booksellers began to seem above and beyond the call of duty.
Other odds and ends jobs I have had include teaching assistant (power trip, holding the GPAs of business students in my hot little hands, plus lecturing meant everyone had to look at me, Graduate Student, and be impressed with my vast and complicated knowledge – much like parenting, actually, but with less guilt), grader/marker (paid well, but subject to the whims of the Nutty Professor and whiny undergrads), and respite worker for special needs children (not especially challenging, and much like babysitting large, minimally progressing babies).
Working as a ward nurse, I didn’t mind the work, but hated the shifts. I spent my shifts hoping no one would die, or worse, code (or sometimes hoping secretly for a code, just to give me something to talk about). I spent my nights counting down until the stretch was done, and my evenings at home scouring the internet for a new job, one with good hours. I spent every second weekend wishing I was with my family and every other weekend dreading the next stretch. I hated the politics (budget cuts, don’t give the little old ladies warmed blankets, it’s too expensive; medicate them instead), the ethics (treating people who didn’t want to be treated, due to Surgeon Ego Syndrome – I can cure anything), and the gossip (never tell anyone in a hospital anything you don’t want everyone to know).
But now, I like my job. I am working this weekend, and I am not dreading it. I actually think it will be fun. I am working with people I like and respect. It should be pretty quiet, with few patients, and besides, I like the patients, and the work. It’s minimally stressful, it’s interesting, and it’s rewarding. The job itself has lots of potential for education, advancement, and useful work and life experience.
Yesterday I had a patient who was getting chemo for the first time. When I called her in fromt he waiting room, she was absolutely unsmiling. Very stoic. Obviously very nervous. I explained what would happen, and that usually, the stories people hear are far worse than the actual experience of chemo. I started her IV, and by the time I hooked her up to the drip, she was crying. I got her kleenex, and reassured her that the first time is very scary because you don’t know what to expect, but that by the next time, she would know where to go, how long it would take, and what her side effects would be. Her treatment took a couple of hours, and I was very careful to tell her as I went along exactly what I was doing and why. When she walked out the door, she was actually smiling. I like that I was able to reassure her and put her at ease, and at the end, it turned out it wasn’t as bad as she expected. Now she knows that, and she trusts me, because I told her the truth.
It’s a good feeling, to know you helped someone. You don’t get that in the hospital. No one wants to be there, there’s nothing pleasant about it. It’s a cheerless place where you only go if you feel absolutely crappy, and your focus is on getting out. In the chemo room, patients are not acutely sick, they know where they are and why they are there (and as a bonus to me, most are even continent!), and what we do is not excessively unpleasant, most of the time. It is really not such a bad place to go, if you have to go there. It’s a bright, new cheery building, with volunteer ladies that bring drinks and cookies and soup to people getting treatments. And the patient gets to go home and feel miserable (if they are even going to, many don’t) in the comfort of their own home. Who doesn’t want to be in their own bed when they feel rotten?
Anyway, this was a long way to say that although I am starting seven shifts in a row on Saturday, I am almost looking forward to it. I make no guarantees about what I will write here next week, though. It’s a good job, but I do come home, in a good way, drained. I hope it’s not just the honeymoon talking.
I’ll keep you posted.