In common with roughly fifty percent of the Western Hemisphere, I don’t usually like Mondays. But hey! This Monday was going to be different, by god! Because it was going to be even worse. Zero hour has just hit for me taking on the waiting list duties, and here’s me without so much as a phone-number for pre-assessment.
The very first thing that happened was a phone-call from pre-assessment. In a fine state, because we’ve been told to clear the boards for this urgent patient, and the cancelled patients are, naturally, not one jot impressed. And are there, in person, right this minute, giving them a bollocking, so I needed to get out the diary and re-schedule them, now.
Erm. Um. Dr Hurricane is on her hols this week (thank every god, for that will increase my chances of making it through this week alive – she’s already left me twenty emails of last-minute changes to the waiting list that I don’t know how to action).
So I grabbed the diary and looked through it, and before my very eyes, the scribblings therein swam and shifted and might as well have been
hieroglyphics runes Russian Greek dammit, something I can’t read. French. Whatever, it didn’t matter, because I am fairly sure I am not allowed to just grab Dr Hurricane’s diary and start putting new entries in it, not on my very first day. Besides, she’ll only come back and explode and change them all and the patients will be really unimpressed – and with good reason – and I’ll get a bollocking. So all I could do was explain that I am new, have no idea what I’m doing, and will have to pass this up the chain to my boss.
Although this is not in any way my fault, I still felt like an absolute bannock of ineptitude; but I did retain the presence of mind to ask what their phone number is, so that is something.
It is going to be a very long week.
So I took the phone off the hook (with bossly permission) and worked slowly and methodically on a list of ‘what needs to be done for each patient already on the waiting list, and how I’m getting on with it’. And then I attempted to get on with it.
The very first patient I had to call, because he’d missed pre-assessment (pre-assessment are getting pretty good at liaising with me, I have high hopes here), had no idea he was even due, had not had a letter and had no idea he had a date for his operation. So despite this all being ticked off as ‘done’, in the diary, I can consider it all suspect and have to go through every single one of them again in case someone gets missed.
Not a one of them was answering their phones, however.
On Tuesday afternoon, the bosses finally came over to talk me through actually doing my job. For instance, I have at last been given a folder with copies of the form letters that are to be sent out – about sodding time too, because some of the deadlines for this are getting quite tight. So, do we have soft copies of these, or shall I just type them all back out so that we do? – Type them back out, of course. I then had to ask which form letter was for which sort of operation – and is there anything I have to send with it? (A ‘pack’, you say? What is in this pack? No, I have not received any of it yet. ‘You’ll have to find out?’ Oh god.)
So I still have to hang fire on the letters. Jesus, this is going to be tight.
My line manager then mentioned her hopes that this week I could take some time off to make up for the ferocious overtime I’ve been putting in, because she’ll get into trouble if I don’t and I can’t get paid for most of it. I laughed hollowly and showed her my record of ‘time taken away from the job to deal with the waiting list’, which is currently sitting at nearly fifty percent of every week since I got back from the Lake District. It’s not like I don’t have all my original duties to belt through while all this is going on! So no chance, matey.
In between time spent despairing as the New Improved Duties trash my schedule for the working week, I was going full speed ahead trashing my own schedule for the week. The plan went thus: ‘get up at five, study for two hours before work, gym on way home, work like dog hauling furniture and cleaning carpets and putting everything in its new homes, an hour of drawing borders, have an early night for godsake‘. Aye right. I can’t get to sleep at the moment (because I’m so terrified by the amount of stuff that needs done, ahaha), so ‘rolling out of bed, making sarnies and bolting out the door’ was more my speed. Also, there is a great deal to be said for working off a hard day’s frustration on a cross-trainer – but only if there’s nothing on one’s mind. If and when things calm down, it will be the perfect time to work out plotlines for stories, for instance; but as things stand, my brain is just a constant refrain of ‘why are you blithely wasting time storming along on a cross-trainer when there is so much waiting to be done at home, you lazy bint?’ with every single stride.
So I went a couple of times and then jacked it in. At least I probably don’t need to waste valuable time doing weights; not when there is furniture to be hauled back and forth and I am too lazy to take everything out of it first.
However, by Wednesday morning, things were taking shape. The new studio is finally scrubbed down and has all its furniture in, ditto the new spare room, there’s only behind the really heavy sofa to do in the lounge, and the bedroom too has only one more blast of carpet cleaning to go before everything can go back in its original home, and I can get on with tidying all the paperwork. And it was Muai Thai night, hurrah.
Which was when an email appeared in my inbox which had nothing to do with work at all. Nope, it’s the periodic mail-shot of Vacancies I Am Not Qualified For; which I subscribe to in the hope that, one blessed day, a ‘trainee needed, all training provided’ ad will pop up, in a field of my liking, and which I can realistically jump at. So not at all picky, there.
Today, one did.
And not even just in a, ‘hmm, well that might be worth a shot’ way. This was the bee’s knees of ‘trainee needed, all training provided’ vacancies. My heart leapt, the coffee leapt in the mug also as I leaned in for a closer look, the sky brightened, my favourite song started on the radio; there was everything except an angelic choir singing, ‘Laaaaa! …This is the job you totally want to do.’
I read it back over carefully. Science qualification: check. Programming language: check. Calm and methodical – am I not currently doing just that with the waiting list, despite the pressure? Check. Blog and/or writing: check to both. Prepared to relocate: check. Looks like I have a match!
I paused to recall that the last time I had what looked like a solid match to one of these vacancies, the guy roared with laughter on hearing I am currently a secretary and I felt like a right pillock. Then I looked at the list of ‘stuff needing done to the waiting list’ and the complete lack of ticks next to any of it because I can’t get hold of any of the patients, and picked up the phone.
…But not to call a patient.
Well at least this time the chap was very nice. And said I might be quite suitable, if he could just have a CV and a cover letter by Friday. Oh, and a link to the blog; apparently the blogging is very important. The blogging I have neglected sadly of late, on the grounds that with everything else to do, and considering this is the only one of my hobbies guaranteed to neither bring in nor save any money, it should be the logical thing to fall by the wayside. That blogging.
All is not necessarily lost, I thought. There was that time – again, on a Wednesday morning – that I was informed that if someone could just have a couple of examples of my former, humorous writing, say by Friday, then I could be on a sitcom-script writing team, no salary till the script is sold and pay-your-own-expenses, but the experience would be invaluable, collaborating with people who used to write for The Actual Two Ronnies and all.
Alas, all I had was this very blog and some letters from abroad which I had previously sent the friend who had recommended me to the guy. So I wrote back, ‘Of course! just let me look some out-‘, ran home, spent Wednesday and Thursday nights cranking out three thousand words apiece of ‘previous’ humorous writing, and bingo! I was in like Flynn!
So… it could be done again.
On the other hand – once again, we are talking about this blog. This blog, where I make out to be the Arnold Rimmer of the current-day world. (Without even having to lie, worse luck). The place I showcase the never-ending ruination of all my plans; for like Wile E Coyote’s schemes to eat the Roadrunner, like The Brain’s schemes to take over the world, like Al Bundy’s schemes to be anything except a shoe-salesman who is married with children, eternal failure is funny – at least, to other people. And if I cannot have success, then by god, at least I will have the failure written up on my own terms! (For if one cannot find the humour inherent in one’s own shortcomings and losing battle with the universe, what can one laugh at? ‘Other people’s misfortunes’? That’s harsh, man.)
So, do we think a litany of failure – even one written in the service of humour, and to shrug and acknowledge wryly that the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley – is going to wow a potential employer?
And lo, it has finally come to pass that the Chronicle of Nonsense, this meticulous record of the agents of my downfall through the years, is itself poised to be the agent of my downfall this time! How delightfully ironic!
… for other people.
I did briefly debate starting a totally new blog, on a more serious topic, knocking out three months’ worth of back-entries (around the same amount that I have to make up on here) and pitching up with that; but that would also involve a Topic, a whole lot of research, and taking the rest of the week off sick. With the waiting list needing done.
I also debated ignoring the vacancy entirely and concentrating on my original plan, like I should – but it’s just too good. Too good to be true, even! Almost as if it was specifically designed to be the sort of hook a minnow like me has no choice but to drop everything and dance for! Thank you, universe, I know a red herring when I see one.
But, having no choice, I ditched everything except the job, cranked out twenty thousand words over Wednesday and Thursday nights until I could barely see, and when I emailed off my application bright and early on Friday, the chap who’s advertising the vacancy told me I was looking well impressive for it. Since the universe would never give me such a break, however, I know I am merely being set up for an even more terrific fall. The evidence is even more damning when you consider that the job turns out to be walking distance from where the Bossman lives, for godsake, so he’s over the moon! What are the odds? Where is the sacrifice? It’s PERFECT!
Never. Gonna. Happen.
Still, despite all this, I put in such a damn heroic effort at work that the uberboss called on Friday to say I am doing amazingly well with the waiting list and she is ever so impressed. Though I think that is merely because I have not once screamed and cried and lost the plot and called her to say I was stomping out, never to be seen again. I think this might be why I was picked for the pilot.
The consolation-prize news is, the waiting list does not actually appear to be that hard – once I find out the remainder of what I’m supposed to be sodding doing with it; and once I have control of each patient’s entire pathway, so I know precisely what has been done and what hasn’t. And I have now told all my colleagues this, reassuring them that it is not so difficult, and that once somebody (i.e. me, and I am damn well going to demand the overtime on this one) has put together a definitive how-to document on it, it will be very straightforward indeed. (If one doesn’t work for Dr Hurricane, who will change everything right after all one’s ducks are in a row.)
So they seem a lot less terrified now, and my work is done. Well, it isn’t, not by a long shot, but you know what I mean. Damn, I have been epic this week. And when I got home, despite being shattered, I finally pulled all the bedroom furniture back into position, did all the laundry and started on the last stage of the rearranging; putting everything away.
And now, frozen pizza and a very early night indeed. Which if luck is with me, will be in my own bed, for the first time in a fortnight. Once I find the right Allen key to get the screws tightened…