August 20, 2010

Where All The Women Are Strong...

In this building at my new job, I felt much like this Prairie Dog
(Linda Meikle photos)
(I apologize if the paragraphing is off. I've spent all day trying to fix it, and can't tell what is needed until it's posted on I will make sure the website version looks okay.)

As I rode down the elevator from the 5th floor to the main floor, a women standing beside me noticed the book I held in my hand along with all my other personal belongings that had come from my short-lived cubicle home.

"Dusty Angels and Old Diaries", she commented as she turned her head sideways to read the title.

"What an interesting name".

"It's a book I wrote about my life. It's a book for women who want to be strong," I answered somewhat coldly hoping she would leave me alone.

I write this not to denigrate, belittle, or disparage. It is a road I traveled that ended badly. I have avoided using names or places, but if someone wants to disapprove, criticize, or condemn me, it is no more than I have already received in the last few days. Some may say that writing this shows that I'm not strong (or very smart). I don't agree. I hope those who read this will see my effort to identify with others who have also been treated unfairly, and that they can rise to the occasion and BE STRONG.

As the older woman continued to ask about my book and read the upsidedown front cover, I turned away so she couldn't see it. I was hurting so badly that I couldn't feel any kindness at the moment.

I had just been told not to come back to work, and I was in no mood to be nice. In fact, I was too close to tears to look directly at any of the several women riding the down elevator with me.

"Oh, can I have your book?" the lady boldly asked.

"I only give it to my friends. And, I don't know you," I responded again in a manner totally the opposite of my usual benevolent behavior.

Three days ago I had been deliriously happy when I had been called to start work in Denver at the nation's largest nonprofit health plan company. Even though it meant driving 24 miles each way in bumper-to-bumper rush-hour traffic twice a day, and even though I would not be providing direct patient care as I have done all my life, I looked forward to contributing to the health care field in my role as a Registered Nurse with additional Epic training. I had passed the interview process and had been selected from several other well-qualified candidates.

Several days previously, hubby and I had found the location, and I had become acquainted with the security officer at the front desk. He had given me directions for different routes to take in case of problems with traffic, and the local radio station to listen for traffic reports.

So, the first day, I had no trouble getting a Visitor's Pass before I was met by the director of the contract company who had found this job for me. He passed me off to an employee who had been assigned to show me the ropes and make me feel welcome.

After that, it was totally downhill. While I have told my family that the company decided not to use contract help at this time, this is 'the rest of the story'. (If it is too long for you to read, jump to the bottom for the ending.)

The young woman who was assigned to get me started had also been given a critical project assignment with a "now" deadline. After a quick review of the massive 'new employee' handbooks, passwords, links, websites, and orientation material, she directed me to my cubicle quite a distance from her cozy, efficiently decorated, cube in another part of the building.

"Go down this hall, turn left, proceed past the elevators into this area, go past three hallways, turn right, go past two hallways, turn left, and your cubicle is five cubes down on the right."

Yes, my name was printed on a folded sheet of paper posted at the doorway to my cubicle that was about 4 foot by 6 feet with grey 'walls' so high I couldn't see above them even on my tiptoes. My chair had wheels that wouldn't move, so I switched it out with one from an empty cube. My computer was set up so high that I had to hold my head way up to see the screen, so I moved it off the pedestal and adjusted it to my height. I started a list of personal items that would make my cubicle more warm and inviting.

I knew I was in trouble when I couldn't log in and sign in on to Windows as I had been instructed, because the passwords in my packet didn't work. After many attempts, I followed the 'cubie' path back to my helper like a mouse finding cheese. I told helper #1 that my passwords didn't work.
"Did you check for caps?" she asked without looking up from her work.

"That's the first thing I did," I replied with a rather forced smile.

"Did you try several times?"

"Yes, I did that too."
"Well that's the passwords you were given. They should work."

Just then the supervisor (and the person who had hired me) walked past and commented without stopping,"Oh those are old passwords. Come to my office for new ones."

She gave me the new passwords, and after a quick welcome said, "I'll see you later. I'm late for a meeting". She ushered me out of her office where I took several wrong turns as I artuated my way back to my little, spartan, cube.

Passwords were not up to date. Instructions were not accurate. Programs were not on my computer that others insisted were there. My phone help desk was no help, simply because no one told me how to dial out. The instructions said to dial 7. Three days later, I learned that I had to dial the area code and the number 9. For now, I tried all combinations including 9 and 7 and 1. But only in Colorado do you ALWAYS have to dial the area code. And, not having a local home phone, I didn't know that.

Eventually, I managed to "map" a printer for my computer, but only after searching the massive floor of my building looking for a printer that matched the address listed in my instructions. After locating several printers that didn't match the address, I asked for help from a man in a nearby cube.

"See those plants sitting on top of that cube wall?" he said pointing to a plant placed high in the air somewhere in the middle of the massive room of fabric walls.

"Our printers are in that cube. For some reason, they don't want us using the printers in our area," he explained without any indication that he would actually lead me to the printers.

While I have often added printers to our computers at home, "mapping" was new to me. I finally called Jim on my iPhone for help, because I still couldn't dial out, and our cell phones are long distance numbers anyway.

Although I couldn't 'see' a single person in the cube-scape 5th floor , I could hear many of the employees on their phones behind the massive sea of walls, so I wanted to be careful what I said.

"Please go to" I instructed hubby. He knew instantly what I meant, and immediately read my frantic email to him on his personal email account.

"What is mapping a printer?" "Why do I get a bunch of "x's" when I type in a password - more letters than I'm inserting?" "How many more ways can I try to dial out on my phone?"

Hubby made my tasks seem easy as he was able to answer my questions and point me in the right directions. But, soon other passwords and links wouldn't work as the instructions said they should. (And, the phone still wouldn't dial right.)

Working my way back to helper #1 with list of my questions, she suggested I find helper #2 at another cube because she was busy.

Helper #2 was helpful but suspicious in her questions to me.

"Have you ever used a computer before? How computer-literate are you? What is your job description? Are you sure you can do this job?"

To make a long story short, she asked me a lot of questions that I couldn't answer in the way she asked me, although I've done those same tasks hundreds of times on my computer. Seriously, I can change an icon into a thumbnail! I know how to find the properties of a document!

By then, I was terrified of making a mistake, intimidated in the manner I was questioned, stunned that people assumed that I was "computer illiterate", and worried sick that someone would give an unfair report to my supervisor. (That same day, someone did!!!!)

"We don't go to each other's cubes. Everybody here uses chat," helper #2 informed me as I thanked her and turned to leave.

Day two: I arrived early to find a post-it on my computer instructing me to be in the lobby at 8:30 a.m. and wait for (a person named). The post-it wasn't signed, but as I opened my email, there was a another message from helper #2, telling me to respond to a test she had posted, "ASAP". I wrote back that I had a message to meet someone in the lobby at 8:30, and as it was already 8:25, I'd do the test when I got back.

At the front desk, security told me the person had already been there looking for me (before 8:30) and had left, and I was to 'sit down and wait for her".

In a building like this you do what security tells you.

After waiting 10 minutes, I asked security if they could call that person. He said he had already tried, and she wasn't answering.

A few minutes later, "she" got off the elevator. She told me she was suppose to get me through security, so I could get to my desk. We chuckled as we discovered I'd already been to my desk - and back.

Returning to my desk, I had another email from helper #2 telling me in BOLD letters, that I was NOT to go to the lobby. SHE had posted the sticky note, and - oh well I don't want to go there again...

The ASAP test was to complete something like this, 'Find this document, double the first box, save it, and email it back to me."

I found the document about 10 folders down following the link step by step when I couldn't copy and paste in into my browser. The only way I could figure out to double the size was to stretch it out, which of course, made the letters look funny. I did a copy and paste and emailed it back to her.

Of course that was all wrong, she responded, but I still don't know what she actually wanted. Given a little time and information, I could have done a much better job.

By the time I finished the ASAP test, I had a blinking email to call her at home. ( I called from my iPhone and told her I still couldn't call out. She asked me why I hadn't called the help desk.) Then, she he gave me the numerous steps and passwords to open Epic. She told me to write an order on a specific patient.

No problem, except that OH Epic and Colorado Epic (called healthconnect in CO) screens look different, and I couldn't find the name of the patient she wanted me to write the order on. (In Ohio, click schedule. In Colorado, you have to click the specific doctor, and she didn't tell me that name of the doctor.) So, I failed that.

Her response, "You've been working with Epic how long? You last worked with Epic when?" Even though I explained that the screens were different, that I just needed to learn how to find my way around the new system.

Next, I see a message blinking on my screen. "Click here to go to a meeting". Again from helper #2 working from home. I was suppose to dial up for a 'meeting', but I still couldn't make a call from my phone. (I had told several people that I couldn't dial out, including this person only a few minutes before.) The process she wanted is just like I have used many times with my Melaleuca business, but I couldn't complete the steps in her email program because of my phone, so I failed that.

Just then I got another email from someone I hadn't heard of who was asking me if I could meet for a 'warm transfer" of a project. I quickly met that person on the fourth floor, and he briefed me with a bunch of information that was totally over my head because I'd never been introduced to any project. It was assumed I'd know the language and the process.

"Mr. Project" was exceptionally helpful and considerate, and I accepted the project knowing I'd ask what it was all about when I needed to.

Between Mr. Project and Ms. ASAP, I figured I was going to be in deep water. The situation didn't look friendly or inviting.

Sure enough, the person who hired me send an email for me to meet with her in an hour.

I pleaded my case. I reminded her that in my interview we agreed that while I might not know the specific programs of the company, I knew how to negotiate a computer and was a fast learner. I reminded her that I'd had no orientation yet, and no one-on-one assistance, and that I'd actually gotten a lot done on my own already!

I reminded her that she hired me for my 'medical knowledge" which she agreed was true. She agreed that I had been up front in my interview that I had no exposure to their specific work programs. I explained WHY I hadn't been able to answer Ms. ASAP's questions and complete her ASAP test.

She briskly responded that I had two days to "come up to speed".

When I got home (after two hours of rush-hour frustration), I was completely washed out and totally discouraged. I couldn't eat, and I had nothing to say to hubby or the cat. I just plopped into bed!

Day Three: I arrived by 7 a.m. to accompany another trainer to a training meeting where I would be 'introduced" and would see how training was done. The trainer was late and rushed. He forgot to introduce me (although that was okay with me), and later told me his main purpose was to give me a another 'test" to see what I knew about the computer.

I had brought in my Dusty Angels book and several of my photography brochures to show I had experience with computers and creativity.

So far, no one was interested in my examples, including my book.

The second test consisted of using the specific programs they use for training. Something I was told I would be given on-the-job training for. Programs I had been told they would expect to train me on.

But thankfully, I'm good with 'work-arounds". I managed to locate the programs, open them, create a 'training chart" as instructed, save it, create a group list, attach it, email that document to a group, and save it back the correct drive. I added that I looked forward to being able to make more 'professional' looking training charts when I'd had some orientation to the company computer programs.

Then, in another part of the test, I was successful in using the communication program I'd never seen before yesterday (Lotus) in setting up a meeting, creating groups, emailing members, creating a repeating schedule, and using chat (also called 'sametime'). Even though I later learned that part of this program (sametime) was missing from my computer, I was still able to do the test!

I did all this in two hours.

Just as I was thinking of getting some lunch (about 2 p.m.), and wondering where the popular lunch places were, I got another email asking if another trainer could come and show me around (the computer). She was very sweet and answered a lot of my questions. She discretely told me that I had passed the last test and could expect to be invited to the team meeting at 9:30 Monday morning. I was thrilled!

I couldn't leave until I had completed my "timesheet" both with the company and with the contract company I worked for. There were copious 'instruction" material for me to work from, but again, the links and passwords did not work!

I heard employees telling each other good-bye and 'have-a-nice-weekend' as the cubes started to empty out. I called my contract agency to ask why my links didn't work. I was told that I wouldn't be in their system until after 3 p.m. At 4:30, I still wasn't in the system, so I decided to go home and work on it from home.

At the last minute, I got the official email from the last test, and was told that I PASSED THE TEST. It included a cc to my supervisor that I had passed, and I was welcomed to the team.

15-minutes later as I got into my car, I received a phone call from the person who hired me (she was working from home) saying that she was going to let me go. She explained (when I asked) that she wanted someone who could "hit the road running" because the department "had no time to train anyone".

This from the nation's largest nonprofit health plan company.

She had someone meet me as I returned to get my Epic books and personal items I had left in my cube. Then I slowly entered the elevator, very emotionally drained and personally hurt at what seemed a great injustice.

As the elevator doors opened onto the main floor, the lady continued to ask about my book. As we reached the front door, I handed the book to her with tears running down my face, "This is my third day on the job, but they aren't keeping me, so you might as well have my book," I choked.

She took the book and hugged me.

As we parted, she sang, "Maybe you were sent here by an angel for this purpose, because I really need something like this to help me be strong right now."

I don't even know her name. However, she may be the only reason I went through three days of hell. Or not?

So, I could be her angel on earth?

So I could learn more about being a STRONG WOMAN.

Whatever the universe asks, I want to do!

Take Care on the Journey,
Your friend in life,


Anonymous said...

WOW, I am so sorry you had to go through this.


Anonymous said...

I am sure your book will make that womans day. You working in a box ani't you, you need to see the people your helpping.
(I read all the long story)
I was chatting with Zack told him I was GM Linda's sister & he said "I know, I read all about you in grandma's book" He also said he missed you both & wants to go to denver to see ya.

Linda Meikle said...

Thanks Juanita and Sandy for your 'friendship' comments. They mean a lot to me. Wow Sandy, you read the whole story! I know you don't like to read all that much, so that is wonderful.

Love, Linda

Colleen said...

Linda, that place sucks. You don't wanna work there anyway. The universe got you out of there so that you could land in a better place. Denver is a huge city with lots of opportunity. I am sure you will find a great one! Keep the faith...
XO Colleen

Linda Meikle said...

It's always good to hear from you, Colleen. Hope you are finding joy and peace. Yes, I'm going to find a job that fits my spirit. Destiny works!

Love, Linda