So I started working in my new field.  Well really, an extension of what I was doing before, only now I’m accountable to myself and the board of nursing and my malpractice insurance issuer and my boss.

I’m an independent contractor and I get a straight percentage of the collections on patients I see.  Not a bad gig, I don’t get benefits, insurance, or retirement – but I set my own hours, and my income is limited by how many patients I see and how much income my billing brings in.  The worst part is I only get paid once a month.  And our old biller, who hopefully will fall into a great chasm and never been seen or heard from again, hadn’t even begun to bill for July 29th as of Sept 1.  Jerk.  I’m so glad we have a new biller!

Well the other office got broken into last month, the safe was stolen,and the checks for the business account were in the safe.  My already meager check bounced because the office manager apparently forgot to include my name on the list of checks that were supposed to be allowed to go through on this account, which had been frozen due to the checks being stolen (and four forged checks have already been presented and refused).  So I did not get paid at all this month after all.

I haven’t had a paycheck since July but I’ve been working my @$$ off! The July paycheck is from the old job…the new one hasn’t paid my a penny that I’ve actually gotten to keep.

Sometimes…I think I must be wearing a “kick me” sign on my back, spiritually speaking….

Sometimes the boss needs to kick me in the butt.

I do work for a company every weekend; I do that to pay my bills and support our family while we complete school.  That I’m not talking about — I’m highly motivated to keep that job and do the best I can before I become an advanced practice nurse.  I believe in the saying that you should make yourself so valuable to your employer that they will want to keep you.

That’s not the boss I’m talking about. 

I warped my loom for some napkins; the idea was that I would use mainly white with green as an accent color for the napkins then weave a matching set of place mats in mainly green with white as the accent color.  Well, the napkins didn’t turn out well at all; I didn’t calculate the sett well (sett is how many threads per inch you use for the warp) though it was within the acceptable range for this fiber.  So the draw in (how much they shrink width wise while on the loom) was pretty severe and will be worse when I wet finish them.  then I discovered I misthreaded and had to put in a repair heddle.  Then my selvedges (the sides of the weaving) were crap because of the draw in problems and I didn’t have the tension tight enough. 

Long story short, I HATED these but couldn’t bring myself to cut them off the loom and cut my losses.  So the weaving went in fits and starts.  Mostly fits. 

Since I have a project that MUST be done by May 10, my procrastination has cost me much in terms of time!  I finally finished the napkins last night.  They are in a pile with several other projects awaiting the hemming and wet finishing.  If my boss (ME) were a good boss, the pile wouldn’t be still sitting and the napkins would have been done last week. 

If I’m going to make a business out of weaving I need to be a better boss to myself…

The dangers inherent in a new serfdom

While medieval serfs and lords had an arrangement that kept the powers of the lord in check, and gave the serfs many protections – such as the right of inheritance – there are no such protections for the common person today, mainly because it hasn’t been particularly thought of yet.

While a medieval serf was able to will his land parcel to his children, without the permission or interference of the lord (the actual ‘owner’ of the land), that is not the case today.  I recently read of a wealthy man in California who was offering a small stipend and a furnished guest house in return for gardening and landscaping duties at his mansion.  Sounds like a pretty decent deal right?  Not really.   The problem was that the stipend was vanishingly small – buying food would essentially wipe it out – and the duties encompassed being at the wealthy man’s beck and call, available for his whims, at all hours.  The duties themselves involved between 60 and 70 hours a week of hard labor.  The astounding thing was that the wealthy man couldn’t understand why he couldn’t keep a gardener.

I have also read recently that there is a farm in Oregon that uses free labor under the guise of ‘teaching’ farming to ‘students’ who come to live on the farm.  There is no pay, only room and board provided.  And the workload is just as great; the teaching is merely the performance of manual labor at the direction of the owner, and little is carried away by the student other than a general distaste for being taken advantage of.   This is not like Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm, where real teaching of the nuts and bolts of what he does and why is part of the daily labor, where part of the evenings are spent answering questions from students.  It is merely taking advantage of eager or desperate people wanting to learn a skill.

On the local Craigslist last year in the farming and gardening section there was a recurring post by a farmer who was looking for labor as described above.   The farmer also gave a warning that his farm was a Christian one, and that there were strict rising and sleeping times, mandatory church and prayer, and no drugs or alcohol allowed.  I haven’t seen the posting in quite a while; I don’t know if he had no takers or if he got some willing labor.  I suspect that his farm was much more like the farmer in Oregon than like Mr. Salatin’s though, regardless of the religious bent of the farmer.

These examples (not Salatin, the others) are to me exactly what we must guard against.  If there are to be land owners using serf type labor, there MUST be accepted rules  and laws in place, commonly known and accepted by society at large, to govern the behavior of the owners particularly, but the serfs as well.  Land owners cannot demand labor on the level of slavery in exchange for housing.  They cannot keep the serf from performing work for himself and his/her family in order to be at least a little self sustaining.  The owner cannot demand labor 7 days a week, with no holidays.  There must be bonuses paid to the serfs, at least in the form of food gifts, money, or offers of land purchase.  In return, serfs must do the contracted labor or they cannot keep their housing.

It sounds simple, or crazy, or both.  I really think, though, that we must begin thinking about these boundaries now, before serfdom/slavery becomes the custom of the land again, or many thousands of people will be taken advantage of a la Tom Joad’s family in the The Grapes of Wrath.

I hate my job.

According to my charge nurse, EIGHT new administrative positions have been created in the last 18 months or so. Which trumps my count of FIVE by almost half. At a salary of $250K minimum.

Yet they are pleading poverty. And cutting staff. And making us take classes on ‘customer service’ and pointing to US as though the lowering of patient satisfaction ratings (publicly available) is OUR FAULT.

I have to find another f*ing job. Today made me sorry to be a nurse. Which was made even more poignant by the fact that a patient took the time to outline what I did for her, how much she appreciated it, and told me she was grateful. I don’t think she saw the tears in my eyes.

Since when does a nonprofit hospital have ‘competitors’….?

It’s not the nursing that I regret. It’s the job. Gotta find a new one where I can actually feel like I’m not being treated like a robot where you can just turn up the ‘speed’ button and get more productivity (work) out of it. Yes, you might get more work, but I don’t think any of us can speak for the quality of the job done.

I told one of the other nurses who said I should be grateful I have a job this: “as long as you are fearful for your job, you are the perfect employee, and exactly what they want, a corporate drone. That way you are too fearful for your job to speak up for what is right.”

I am a whore; I work there because I owe them time for paying for my degree, but I am no drone. I also told her, when she said that we really don’t have a choice, that I DO have a choice. I can work anywhere and be overwhelmed and treated like shit, I don’t need to do it here.

It’s just so frustrating, and angering, and sad. I’m a strong person, but I am close to the breaking point.

Tsunami of human need and dysfunction.

That about describes my day to day environment at my job.

I have applied for a transfer, to two different places. If you are of a mind to, please light a candle, send energy, or pray that one of these places deems me worthy of employment.

I never thought I would see the day that I would be afraid that I would lose my license because of decisions on staffing made by administration, people who don’t work the line and have no concept of the difficulties a line nurse faces.

The words completely overwhelmed, unbelievably fatigued, and frightened, about accurately describe my feelings.