something i would rather not talk about, ever again

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In October, I had been waiting to hear back after a promising interview about a really exciting position with Goodwill when I got a call from a children’s home in Massachusetts where I had submitted my resume. I set up an interview but hoped that I would be able to cancel it after I got the job that I really wanted. I found out that, in fact, somebody was more awesome than me and that I did not get the job. I was sad. I went to the interview for the residential facility. They loved me, because I’m awesome.

So at this interview, I read the job description and mentioned my back issues to the interviewer, but signed it after I determined that I could reasonably live up to the physical requirements. I mean, I’ve worked with this population before and never had to physically manage any client’s behavior so it’s not like every day is stress on your back day. Even though I knew they did more restraints, having a different, more power-struggly behavioral management system than the agency I worked at in the past, I thought how bad can it be. I knew I could handle it.

What I thought more about after this interview was that I did not really want to work in a residential environment again. It’s challenging, yes, but I have experience and got very comfortable and secure in my abilities. My reservations were more about the rather sad salaries, lack of support from strained or just bad employers, and shitty schedule (constant weekends, overnights, and missing holidays) that are basically universal issues for anyone in this field. It was a longish commute. So, though it cheered me up to hear that my references were amazing (why I worried that they wouldn’t be is another issue entirely – this three-month job search and unemployment since my surgery has really kicked my confidence in the balls), I was not very excited to accept the job when it was offered. I was, however, anxious to be, I dunno, FINANCIALLY AUTONOMOUS and I was definitely sick of emailing people my resume and so horrified at the thought of more job interviews. I also knew that, with a 48 hour work week, I would be making better money (not good money, that would just be silly). I had a lot more thinking and anxiety leading up to my start date, which was yesterday.

I got there at 9 am, having forced myself to be optimistic. And met some coworkers, saw the house I would be working at, sat down with the HR guy and filled out a lot of paper work, including a form where I disclosed “history of back injury – no heavy lifting” under “I can perform this job with the following accommodations” (or some such thing) because I certainly was not hiding anything, got an ID badge and a bunch of keys. I went back to the group home and worked out my schedule for the next two weeks, talked about the program. I was pretty comfortable by this point. I really liked the space, I would be working with an experienced staff, I had a job, etc. So that is, of course, where it all went to shit.

I got a call to return to the main building to talk with the person who hired me and also, as it turned out, the CFO of the organization. (This is the wicked painful part, so I want to make it short.) She seemed shocked by what I had written and said that was absolutely not possible and I tried to clarify by what I meant, that basically I didn’t want to be moving furniture and doing heavy physical work on a regular basis, did she want my doctors to sign off on the job description, she said that she could not keep me on because it didn’t seem like I was physically capable of restraints and that there is a huge safety risk for me to even work there BY THE WAY, I HAD BEEN COMPLETELY FORTHCOMING WITH MY MEDICAL BULLSHIT WITH EVERYONE I ENCOUNTERED DURING THE INTERVIEW PROCESS and I struggled to keep it together because…I was essentially hired and fired in one day. After having been “terminated” from Easter Seals for the same exact issue of “physically unable to perform job duties.” I now have a nifty copy of their termination of employment form. Date of hire: 11/1/10. Date of termination: 11/1/10. They said they would give me forms for the doctor and told me to “think about it” but that I could come back with those forms and then talk to the staff nurse and then who knows. She could end up just getting rid of the termination notice and we would go forward. I had to stop by the nurse’s office on my way out to pick up the paperwork and I clearly appeared emotionally upset and it seemed that her style of comforting adults who appear emotionally upset is to speak to them as though they are about five years old which just made me frustrated, which just made it harder for me not to publicly cry, which I fucking hate so fucking much. (It doesn’t matter how I feel internally, whether it is sad or angry and whether it is just a little bit, my body is given to turning on me and forcing uncontrollable sobs. It just makes everything worse when you want to, I dunno, HAVE DIGNITY.) I went back to the group home to pick up my purse, where my unit manager had not been informed about any of this so I tried to explain it to her without looking like a complete mental case and called Rob and drove home.

And then I was angry but, also, embarrassed. I don’t think I could have done anything better. If I had signed the form in the “no problem” section instead, my back never would have been in issue but I didn’t believe it would be, regardless. I feel super naive and silly for having gone through the entire humiliating experience, and I wish I didn’t feel that way because I did nothing wrong. I still could have my orthopedist sign off on the job description and anything else but I’m so horrified but the entire experience that I don’t think I can stomach it. From their perspective, they probably think I wasted their time and sprung this on them out of nowhere BUT I DIDN’T. Anyway.

I do think, at least my holiday plans are safe and we are surviving just fine and I kinda have the weird feeling that all the apprehension between accepting the job and my start date was justified. The whole thing is so frustrating and exhausting. It doesn’t help that we are living off of Rob’s salary and 1) I don’t feel good about that, period but 2) we are kind of not in a good place because savings are lower than they should be and we have a reasonable-but-not-cheap wedding that’s about a year away. We can afford to live and I’m not going to stay unemployed forever but the truth is, after a couple years of financial comfort in spite my fabulous student-loan debt, I don’t like going back to feeling stressed about money. I would be truly struggling if I were not in this relationship and knowing that gets to me. I have been privileged and will continue to be. So I’m trying to move on and I would like to pretend that 11/1/10 never happened. Thanks.

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