It’s been just about a year since I broke up with my prior home in L.A. and moved back to Michigan. And although there are still times that I pine for L.A. like a tween with a crush on a boy band, all in all, the new relationship is ok. Even good sometimes with a few sexy moments in there as well (hello first row seat to the thunderstorms!).
It’s not just L.A. that I ditched. I also broke up with the job that brought me to Michigan and resumed my own practice. That happened in March and for some reason it didn’t provide all of the relief I had been hoping it would. I made one more break last week and somehow, it made all the difference. I drove home from work on Wednesday drunk with happiness.
I know you are dying to know—what breakup? Unfortunately, I had to let my receptionist of 3 months go last week. She was a sweet woman. Really, she was. But she was not a good match for me and what I didn’t realize is that she was more like another patient than a work ally for me. She’d send multiple emails to me throughout the day with subjects that read, Help?!?!? And URGENT!!! This despite me telling her repeatedly that if there is an urgent need or something that is very concerning, please tell me in-between patients—I cannot check my email in-between.
Throughout the day she’d get this deer in the headlights look to her and I could just tell that she was not listening to a word I was saying. So 2 weekends ago I spent an entire day coming up with a priority list for her admin duties. I thought surely this will help with her organization of her day and hence lessen her anxiety. I was all excited to give it to her that Monday.
She looked at it with this strange, dubious grimace and said, “oh, ok.” Ugh. This was not the response I had imagined. The top of the list mentioned how I’d like my messages given to me (in the form of 2 emails—one with messages from the morning and one with messages from the afternoon). I just couldn’t take the 20+ emails she’d send me each day. I was getting anxious and feeling bogged down.
Despite the new, and dare I say brilliant, list I wrote for her, the barrage of emails continued on Monday into Tuesday. What the hell, I thought? She came to me clutching the list and said, “Jill (she owns the office) told me I should not answer the phone if there are patients to help.” I said, yes, exactly. The sentence read, “In an ideal world, the phone would be picked up every time it rang.” The next sentence said, “This is not realistic.” My point was, and I actually spelled it out, that she could let the phone go to voicemail if she was busy and she could even pick chunks of time to let it go directly to voicemail so she could get her work done.
I explained all of this and she just said, “I guess I’ll talk to Jill about it.”
That Tuesday I was to take her out to tea after work so we could discuss her duties and I wanted to get to know her a little more. We decided on 4:30 at the food co-op’s café. I saw her at 3:00pm when she checked in my last patient who was booked until 4:00pm. For some reason, she thought I would be to the cafe at 4:01 (exaggerating just a tad) and when I got there at 4:23pm, she was nowhere to be found.
I stalked the café for a good 35 minutes. The barristas giving me looks like, when is this crazy lady going to buy a damn drink? I’d go and look at the cheese and bread area. Then back to the café. I’d look at their prepared food case. Then back to the café. This place is small so this is all within 10 feet of each other.
Finally I took a frantic walk around the parking lot looking for her car. It wasn’t there. I sent a text to a colleague who was still at the office to see if she had K’s number (my fault: I didn’t have her telephone number) or a way to contact her. She didn’t. After 45 minutes, I decided to do my shopping there and after checking the café 3 more times, I paid for my things and left. I sent her an email to her work email that evening with concern: I hope everything is ok. I missed you at the café….blah blah blah.
The next morning I show up and she’s unusually chipper. So I confront: is everything ok? Yes, fine. Me: I had no way to get a hold of you while I waited at the café. She: I didn’t have your number either.
Ok, now I’m fuming. My “office phone” is a second cell phone that I carry with me everywhere (well, almost everywhere). She has been using that number over and over since March and she could not recall it? Really?!?
I let it go because now it’s time to work. She also tells me, “I finally read the entire priority list you gave me.” Great. All 2 pages of it. I get one email at lunchtime. Beautiful! But nothing at the end of the day and she is gone. So I email her at home (because now I have all of her contact info). It goes something like, “I have my fingers crossed that the phone traffic was light and that there were no messages that I needed to tend to.”
I get a reply: “oh my god. I am so sorry. I forgot to send it. I’m still having a hard time wrapping my mind around the consolidated emails. Me (in my head): oh for Pete’s sake! Me (email): I will take care of it. I have another colleague forward me the email the next day. Thank god there was nothing truly urgent to do. That colleague also forwarded me another email from the receptionist titled, “This?!?” This—was not an email meant for me. I am discussed in the email for nearly 4 paragraphs. This email was intended for the owner who was away this particular shitstorm week. Among the many things she brings up is the “email situation.” That she prefers to email each message that comes in but that I’ve been “overwhelmed” by the number of messages.
After I read the email, all I could think is That Bitch. I was doing my best to work with her and she throws me under the bus. Or at least it felt like it. And I was done with this. I’d rather go back to doing everything myself than to deal with this shit.
The following week, I have a meeting with Jill and lay it all out. K is not work for me and I need to let her go. Because she was hired by Jill, it is up to Jill to decide if she wants to keep her for less hours for the rest of the office or to let her go completely. It turns out that I was not the only one with these kinds of complaints and Jill felt like it was time to let her go.
Wednesday morning at 10am, K came in to work and Jill had “the talk” with her. She offered to let K work the rest of the day or go home and get paid for the day (she was not under contract and was part time hourly). I thought this was a little brisk and even offered Jill to let her stay for 2 weeks but Jill didn’t think she’d want to stay.
Jill was right. K’s response: “I didn’t see this coming.” She began to cry and stormed out of the office. Breaking up stinks. But many times it’s for the best for all parties. If we all didn’t think K was a good fit for the office, I can’t imagine that K was really loving being there. I bet she’s feeling relieved now, too.
Maybe next time I’ll tell you about my recent break-up with my physical therapist. That was a more, I’ll call to reschedule but know that I’ll never call to reschedule kind of break-up. I guess I got sick of them telling me that I had no ass muscle and no wonder my knee hurts.