I didn’t make enough money to pay the rent on time. I didn’t have health insurance and I was on over $350/month of medications just to keep me balanced on the survival line. I worked long hours at a job that did not treat me well, and almost every minute I was at home, I was sleeping. One day I got a phone call from a clinic with whom I had interviewed almost a year before. They wanted to know if I was still interested in the job. I couldn’t say yes fast enough. They offered me medical insurance, the same schedule every week, no weekends, and higher pay than I had ever seen before. I had my first glimmer of hope that I might find stability in my life.
My health was so far gone that undoing the damage was an uphill battle that took over a year. I had to call in sick a few times a month, and my new employer still gave me the chance to get myself better. By the second year on the job I had proven myself as a hard worker and I had made a place for myself. I almost never had to call in sick, and I got a raise. I was able to maintain a serious relationship in my personal life, and soon after I got married. I became a dependable employee and they gave me more responsibilities. I got another raise and I was able to upgrade to a nice, large, and safe apartment with my husband.
I began having some frustrations at work, and it made my days more stressful, but they were nothing I couldn’t deal with. I began taking on even more responsibilities, some that I didn’t really want, but they came with another pay increase. This pay increase allowed my husband and I to buy our first house. I had come a long way from the barely-living girl who could not afford a bedroom with a door.
The frustrations at work, however, became more consistent and a little deeper all the time. I had to start withdrawing within myself just to get through the days without becoming overwhelmed. I still loved working with the animals and clients, and I liked my coworkers enough to make pressing on worth it. Eventually I began to witness unethical behavior that had never been part of my workplace. I reported what I saw to my supervisors, and was blind-sided with a reprimand for complaining at all. I ended up getting written up for overstepping my boundaries and questioning the decisions of a doctor. This very deeply hurt and angered me.
The unethical behavior did not stop. My managers openly turned a blind eye for the sake of making money. We had a meeting where my fellow technicians and I honestly voiced our concerns and cited specific examples of not only unethical, but illegal behavior we had witnessed. Instead of being concerned, they admonished us for complaining, and told us that they were confident that we had made all of our complaints up. Our managers did not even acknowledge the illegal activity that potentially put their patients in danger. I was crushed. I worked too hard to be forced to take part in something that is wrong. Today I gave them notice that I will be leaving this job in two weeks.
In the four years I had this job, I had gone from barely alive and declining to thriving with a future. I gave them every strength I have, and trusted them with my weaknesses. I have friends I will keep for a long time, and I have earned the respect of doctors, managers, and coworkers alike. I built relationships with clients who now look forward to coming to see us. Many of them ask for me by name and remember details of my life that I share with them. When I told my boss that I would be leaving, her reply was, “Ok, then.”
Morale is low, and there is palpable sadness. We are sad because the immense pride we take in doing our jobs well is meaningless in the eyes of our bosses, to whom money is suddenly more important than ethics. I am sad because the job that saved my life has now become unliveable. I am hopeful about the next chapter of my life. Tonight, though, I am just sad that I had to break up with my job after finding out it cheated on me. I’m sad, but I’m nobody’s fool.