Fake Plastic Trees

So I’ve been in the workforce for … well, what seems like forever. Seriously. I started babysitting at the age of 12 years old and spent many a summers watching over the younger neighborhood kids. Or the kids of my parents’ friends

And then at the age of 16, I got my first “official” job as a burger-slinger at the local fast food establishment. (Think of the recent “King-On” commercials on TV. Yeah, it was that restauraunt …) I had a manager who was the spittin’ image of Tim Curry and thought that all Asian girls looked like Conn.ie Chung. He also had a habit of sticking any non-Caucasian employee in the back either making the sandwiches or washing dishes. Amongst other nasty comments he made, the naive person in me took a few years to I recognize what a bigot this man was. So yeah, I lasted about 3 months on that job.

Hubby & I try to take "Foot Fotos" every time we go on vacation. This was taken at Cannon Beach, OR

The next summer I managed to land a job at the local mall working at a music store. No, it wasn’t an independent record store … although I always wished I could have worked at one. Yes, it was one of those retail chain stores that sold mostly Top 40 crap. But the job had its perks, which included a decent discount, first dibs on any “alternative” stuff that managed to come into the store, and a crap load of freebies that the label reps would hand out any time they came into the store. Oh … and we also got a lot of “heads up” on tour dates and album releases before the general public new. Of course pre-internet … that was a pretty d*mn cool perk. It was definitely a fun job to have, and the people that I worked with and interacted with on a daily basis definitely made the mundane more interesting.

I managed to keep the music store job for the next three years; lasting through the summer after my first year in college. And, if you can believe it … I also managed to hold a second job at one of the department stores within the same mall. That one wasn’t as fun, as I managed to get stuck in the men’s clothing department. However, to this day I know exactly how to fold a man’s dress shirt back into the original packaging it may have come in. Ain’t it amazing how we retain the stupidest things?

Dundas Square, Toronto
Dundas Square, Toronto

I finally quit both retail jobs after my first year in Nursing school. And that’s because I managed to get my first job in a hospital as a Nursing Assistant. Which turned in to a Nurse Technician position another year later. Which eventually turned into my first post-college job. Of course, I moved over to the bigger “sister” hospital at that time. Which meant more interesting patients and definitely more Residents (“Doctors-In-Training” … not to be confused with Med School students). Those first couple years post-graduation in my first job had to be one of the most exciting times of my career. Lots of new things to learn, lots of interesting co-worker dynamics, etc.

After about two years, the “glamour” and excitement of working on “the floors” started to wear down on me. Things suddenly became routine. And since by then I was married, working the afternoon shift and every other weekend grated on me because, as a newlywed, I just wanted to spend time with my Hubby. It’s about that time when I started to feel the “burn out” of working on the floors. And looking back now, I have a feeling that the reason I was burning out was more because of the way our unit was being managed* and not by the people I worked with or the actual work I was responsible.

In any case, my “break” literally came when I injured my back on the job. How, may you ask, did that happen? Well, it’s not that a patient fell on me … rather it was me that fell on a patient. Yep. As a fellow RN and I were lifting a patient who slipped off of her chair onto the floor, this patient began to lose her balance. Now … in Nursing School, you’re taught to “ease” a patient that is falling down onto the floor. In otherwords, you don’t let go of the patient; you guide them slowly onto a chair or back down on the floor. Well … while I attempted to “ease” this patient onto the floor, my fellow RN decided to just let the patient go.

At the Bow of a Caribbean Cruise Ship
At the Bow of a Caribbean Cruise Ship

And down the patient went. With me right on top of her shortly afterwards. And … ouch, what was that sharp pain I felt in my lower back?

I happened to be off that weekend and when I couldn’t sleep comfortably for the next two days, I decided it was time to fill out paperwork. So after a couple of Employee Health appointments and an MRI to my lower back, I found out I had a herniated disk. And despite the months of physical therapy and cortisone shots (which, by the way, I think may have been one of the reasons for my IF issues … ), the pain to my back and it’s associated numbness and tingling down my left leg persisted. So that’s when I decided to have surgery to correct the herniated disk. (What can I say? I was only 25 at the time and I didn’t want to be in pain for the rest of my life!)

And that’s when I met my disability RN Case Manager for the first time. She’s the one who showed me that there were other areas of Nursing that I could get in to with my degree. So armed with that information, when I returned to work I was lucky enough to have a fellow RN who was doing Case Management for the hospital I worked for. She’s the one that got me my first position in Case Management and I haven’t turned back to floor nursing since.

On the beach at Labadee, Haiti
On the beach at Labadee, Haiti

So I guess you can say that I literally “fell” into Case Management. Ha!

Okay, so that long diatribe wasn’t what I was getting at when I first started this post. What I’m really getting at is that since I was a young’in I worked. And once I graduated from college and joined the career workforce, I’ve worked. Full time, mind you. The only time I ever took a break between jobs (besides when I went for my back surgery) was when I left the hospital to work for a health insurance company. And even then, it was less than a week. And when I left that job to come here to Chicago, I took absolutely no time off in between.

Oh sure, I’ve had time off during the year. I mean, we Full-Time folk do accrue vacation time that we are entitled to. And trust me, Hubby & I make it a point to take a vacation because that’s a priority for us in life. I mean really, it’s our time to recharge our batteries and refuel our energy so that we can delve headfirst into our careers with new purpose. We need that time because, unlike others that have different priorities than us, our childless (or child-free, still deciding) life consists of little more than our careers.

At Lake Louise, Banff, Alberta (Canadian Rockies)
At Lake Louise, Banff, Alberta (Canadian Rockies)

Okay, so I’m overexagerating here (or as Hubby says I’m “V.H.1 Storytelling”). I mean, I wouldn’t be writing / blogging and Hubby wouldn’t be sketching if I didn’t do anything more than wake up and go to work every day. But I think you readers may get the point.

It’s been just over five months since I moved to Chicago and started this new job, without taking more than 2 days off (strictly for the NYE holiday) inbetween. And before that, it’s been since July last year that Hubby & I have taken any sort of vacation together. Needless to say, I’m ripe for some time off.

H*ll. I don’t even care if it’s a Stay-cation. I don’t care if I don’t do more than read, write or blog for a week. I just want to have the time dedicated to ourselves. To be together. To fully relish in the big move that the two of us made together. To explore our new local surroundings. (Hmm … I guess you could call that a “Play-cation” then. Not to be confused with “placate” though … ) All without the pressure to keep working. To make deadlines. To set new goals. To maintain the current goals.

Seriously, I’d be happy to just be in bed with Hubby, imagining we’re back in Hawaii lying in a hammock on the beach at sunset. Perhaps we can bring in some fake plastic trees, too.

Cannon Beach, OR again ... Recognize the rock from "Goonies"?
Cannon Beach, OR again ... Recognize the rock from "Goonies"?

As it is, the next long weekend we have planned will be Memorial Day. (But then, is it a vacation if the rest of your company is off too?!) And the next one would be Independence Day … which is followed closely by my birthday that following Monday. And d*mn it … you know I’ll be taking that day off. I mean, I’ll at least have accrued one or two vacation days by then …

I mean if I can’t take time off to find a new career path or even take time off to take my imaginary kids to a fun vacation spot during their imaginary summer vacation … let alone to take a maternity leave for that imaginary pregnancy, too … I should be entitiled to have my own birthday off. Don’t you think?


* I know that now, only because being in a leadership position … I know that a person never leaves a job because of the people or because of the actual work. Nope. In my experience, most people that go willingly on to “greener pastures” (or maybe not so “greener” …) leave because of who they report to.

One Reply to “Fake Plastic Trees”

  1. I’ve had time off by quitting jobs! D never gets a break, and we’ve worked opposite shifts pretty much since we were on our 6th month of dating. Enjoy your cuddly evenings, at the very least, and dream-cate away!!
    feel free to visit on your days off, if you stay here!!

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