3 more updates from letter-writers

Here are three updates from letter-writers who had their questions answered here this year.

1. My friend is a terrible coworker

I did take your advice (and the advice and input from some of the commenters) and apologized to my friend about how I’d handled the gossip situation. I told her I was worried about her. (A little background I see didn’t make it into my original message – she’d actually spent some time in the hospital last year with still-unexplained heart failure.) She told me that she was frustrated because she’d realized that a lot of people have a near-death experience and change their whole lives, and here she was, still working at a job she didn’t even like any more.

Last month, my friend quit her job and moved cross-country to live somewhere cheaper and try to make it as a freelancer. We haven’t entirely patched up our relationship, which was more than a little strained under the circumstances, but we’re making progress. Her replacement at work is settling in nicely, and I’ve learned a valuable lesson about working with friends.

2. My job offer was pulled after I said the insurance wouldn’t meet my needs

I’m the person who had an offer pulled because of my very poor word choice and my partner wanted me to “fight” it. I took your advice, I didn’t fight it and in the future I’ll be sure to emphasize my interest in the job and be much more careful about my wording. I really appreciated readers weighing in.

Readers were right, the employer cares very little about the employees there and I learned that there had recently been assaults on the unit because of staffing issues. It’s a huge employer in the area and the only hospital, so for some jobs they have a near literal monopoly, so most people feel trapped in a low paying, crummy benefits job (I think it’s also important to note that there is no union there, not even for nurses, which I’ve never seen before and I think contributes to the low morale and bad conditions). Since it’s a big employer, I’ve met many folks who work there and all of them are unhappy. I’m glad that my (admittedly large) mistake was with an organization that wouldn’t be good to work for. I consider myself lucky in that regard.

I ended up starting a private practice. I work with an international organization that helps domestic violence victims and I’ve got a local office in town. It’s going well and I’m grateful for that.

3. I’m supposed to report on an organization that I just interviewed with (#5 at the link)

I sought out the opinion of several veteran reporters I trusted at my workplace. They both agreed that in this situation, the conflict of interest didn’t impact the reporting of the story, but might negatively impact my standing as a job candidate. I did reach out to the hiring manager get the information I needed and it was provided (begrudgingly.)

I didn’t end up getting the position. The hiring manager and the entire team never gave me any reason to think they were unprofessional or vindictive, so I’m hoping I wouldn’t have gotten it either way. But I’m sure it didn’t help in my favor. It was incredibly disappointing, but I’m going to keep trying my best to look for a new position.

The story turned out great. I got a lot of excellent feedback from the community and others at my workplace for covering the issue fairly. Thanks to everyone for their input!

{ 23 comments… read them below }

  1. fposte

    I love updates! And yeah, I think the heart failure thing on #1 is *huge*–any time you get a major health incident and subsequent need to control, it’s a tough thing to bounce back from and it changes your life.

    Though I am wryly amused that the last post in the thread, from Not So New Reader, is a suggestion that you appeal to your friend’s heart. Sounds like that poor heart already had plenty going on!

    1. Blurgle

      And heart disease is notorious for causing depression, anger, and anxiety (more so than other equally serious conditions – there may be a physiological reason behind it).

    1. Sunshine Brite

      I assume verbal or physical assaults due to lack of staffing around to provide security and de-escalate situations as needed.

    2. NutellaNutterson

      Probably not the same place, but there’s a mental health prison/hospital in my region that’s notorious for physical, life-threatening, assaults on the staff.

      1. Briefly Anon

        Yeah. I work somewhere that does work comp for a facility like that and the hospital causes worse injuries than most of the prisons have.

        1. Manders

          Yes, nurses can get badly injured when staffing levels are too low (because they try to lift patients by themselves when there should be a second person assisting, because a patient got combative, because they’re tired and not 100% alert after a long shift of caring for too many patients, because slick hospital floors are not a great place to be on your feet all day, etc). I also used to work on work comp cases and I think I saw more nurses than almost any other profession.

  2. Erica

    It looks like the poster does counseling work, so I read it as too few people working in the hospital’s mental health unit led to situations where patients were potentially violent. But I could be reading too much into it.

  3. Original LW #2

    Oh gosh I have *another* update! I’ve been networking and met a fellow alumni at the hospital (works in medical, not psych). She ran into a colleague that works in psych unit (did not realize this at the time). But she asked him when he was going to retire. He has apparently retired two times (actually left) and then been told he needs to come back because they can never fill his position. Guess which job I was offered? Ding, ding, ding.

    Since he was not in the interview process and the woman I just met works in another department they did not know about my error and the offer falling through. They both strongly encouraged me to apply for the position. [Background, this person has worked there longer than 10 years so salary is okay, folks who have been hired in since the 10-year mark have incredibly low salaries, which I think is part of why they can’t bring a new person in for the role it pays so little.]

    Thanks everyone for your insight!

      1. Original LW #2

        I had meant to email Alison but she posted before I got around to it! So I figured I would comment. This meeting happened this past week, so it is a very recent development. Thank you for the well wishes!

  4. OriginalEmma

    She told me that she was frustrated because she’d realized that a lot of people have a near-death experience and change their whole lives, and here she was, still working at a job she didn’t even like any more.

    The cultural pressure (in the U.S. anyway) to become a better person or make a complete change after some sort of trauma is hard to shake and hard to avoid. Barbara Ehrenreich’s Brightsided and Meghan Daum’s The Unspeakable both go into this phenomenon.

    Meghan described her book in an interview with NPR. She was telling a story about how she had been in a coma after a serious illness and was asked (explicitly or implicitly, I don’t remember) whether she’d become a better person or was going to change her life in some way. She said “no, probably not.” She also goes into the forced relationships that develop, or the need to *appear to have* such relationships, when family members with whom we hadn’t been very close become ill. It was a great interview!

    1. Pipette

      So much this. It’s sad how you are kind of supposed to be dissatisfied with your life or be a jerk and stay like that until some traumatic event forces you to change your ways. I guess it makes for a lovely daytime movie, but I much prefer the stories where people stay the same as before Traumatic Event, because they were pretty decent humans and happy with their lives already.

      See also “Man becomes father of girl – becomes feminist” and “Person has near death experience – tells loved ones how much he/she loves them”.

      1. OriginalEmma

        Right! Meghan actually talks about that sameness. She thinks that staying the same is a better example of human perseverance than changing everything about you post-incident. She also jokes, in her case, that any change will last a few weeks, top.

  5. HRish Dude

    “I think it’s also important to note that there is no union there, not even for nurses, which I’ve never seen before and I think contributes to the low morale and bad conditions.”

    This is a really weird comment considering 80 percent of hospitals are not unionized.

    1. Liana

      I don’t know, maybe this is a regional thing? I’ve worked in hospitals for awhile now and I don’t think I know any nurses that aren’t unionized – it seems to be pretty ubiquitous here. I’m administrative, though, so I don’t belong to a union.

      1. HRish Dude

        I think there’s a union in California, but I don’t know how widespread through the state they are.

    2. Original LW #2

      My state used to be a very strong union state (then a certain governor pulled some anti-union stuff). But most hospitals in my state are at least partially unionized, meaning the nurses have a union. I had a union in grad school and the university hospital from my home town literally everyone is is part of a union even the janitors. So in my area, the norm is that the hospital is unionized.

      In any case, the workers have very little bargaining power and are incredibly unhappy because their needs don’t get met.

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