(Please note: All names used herein are pseudonyms.)
Before we go any further, allow me to lay out some basics about my job. I work with animals. They have specific needs that must be met. There are rules about what we caregivers are expected to do on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. For example, every day we are expected to check the health of the animals we are individually responsible for (called our “run”), and make sure that they have food and water. I work with a dozen others; together, we are responsible for meeting these standards. It doesn’t matter if someone is not at work; the animals still need care. As such, we frequently work as a team, checking in with one another to make sure we have the supplies we need, seeing if there is some way that we can help, or covering the duties of someone who is absent. For the most part, I get along well with my coworkers. Sure, we can occasionally annoy one another, but overall we work well together.
To say that the last few months at my job have been hectic would be a gross understatement. The extreme cold in January made life interesting because it played havoc with the steam that powers some of the vital equipment in my building, like the pipes that provide drinking water for the animals. Then there’s been a revolving door of sorts; that is, the staff has changed a bit from when I started working there. Since September, we’ve lost five people to new jobs, plus Boss was on maternity leave from October until New Year’s. While we had subs that helped out, we’re still technically two people shy of being fully staffed, so everyone’s runs are a bit larger than is ideal.
Remember how I said earlier that my coworkers and I can occasionally annoy one another? Lately, it feels like that’s more of a permanent thing. One coworker in particular, Dingbat, drives everyone nuts with his sloppy work habits, loud voice, and crude jokes. Then there are the Tom, Jackson, and McD, or as I sometimes privately refer to them, the Three Stooges. These three guys are responsible for cleaning and taking care of equipment like the cages and water systems. They do their jobs, but they can’t stand one another, and lately, most of the rest of my coworkers can’t stand them, either.
I already mentioned Dingbat. He’s only been with the department since last July, but it seems a lot longer. My biggest problem with him is that he consistently lies about the work that he has done. That, and he keeps trying to give the newer people helpful advice. Thankfully, they’ve all learned to ignore him.
My other coworkers, Boss included, have quirks and tendencies that annoy me, but then again, I probably annoy them in ways that I don’t really know about, too. Clearly, though, I can’t annoy them all too much, because lately I’ve become the person that everyone comes to when they have a problem or need to vent. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone.
I’m not saying that I mind helping others. On the contrary, the tendency to do things for others is in some ways my Achilles’ heel, because I don’t feel comfortable leaving things undone. As one friend put it, I ALWAYS have to pick up the ball, even if I wasn’t the one who dropped it. At work, I’ve often been one of the ones who helps with additional projects or those duties that aren’t specifically assigned to anyone.
However, I dislike helping others when they are specifically taking advantage of me. Take Dingbat, or even Red (our second-newest employee). Both have an annoying habit of standing around and talking when they should be working, so they run out of time and thus come looking for help to finish their own work.
Lately, I’ve also somehow become the Father Confessor for the whole bunch. That is, any time someone stops by to talk to me, it’s either “Can you help me?” or “I can’t believe so-and-so just did that!” or “I hate X!” Our newest employees, Red and Rose, are prone to panic attacks about how much there is to do, so they’ll moan about that. Blake can’t stand either Irvin, Jackson, Dingbat, or Tom, so he’ll complain about one of them. Or he’ll talk about the most gruesome or depressing story from that morning’s news. Kate and Murphy, the vets, often gossip about the other employees. On the one hand, I’m flattered that everyone trusts me enough to say this stuff to me. As a rule, I try not to gossip, or to share information with someone who doesn’t really need to know. On the other hand, I’m SICK OF IT. I’m starting to feel like I should hang a sign on the door of whatever area I’m working in that states, “The Doctor is In”, and that I should charge people a nickel each time they say something like that to me. Maybe then they would learn to work out their problems on their own.
The final thing that irks me about all of this is that no one ever says, “Thanks for listening.” So thank you, dear readers, for listening to this rant of mine. I know that it took up some of your time, and I greatly appreciate it.