The morning before I turned in my resignation at the psych ward, I ended up having a conversation with a guy in HR. He was telling me about how they see “the craziest things” and he should totally write a book or have a blog about it. I tried to hide my amusement as I said something along the lines of “oh, wouldn’t that be something.” Then he told me about a guy at another hospital in our corporation who’d done exactly that.
“Yeah,” he said. “You can buy his book on Amazon.”
I was torn between hitting Click-To-Buy and mourning the fact someone had beat me to it.
“You can totally tell who he’s talking about,” he said. “He changed everyone’s names but it’s super obvious.”
“And that’s not something you’re worried about?” I asked.
“Legal said it was fine,” he said. “We all read it. It’s hilarious.”
I felt like I’d just been given the most amazing going away gift ever. Even if there’s something technically wrong about writing all these horrifying stories, I can rest assured every level of accountability at my former workplace is completely useless. So I may as well pass on a few of the more “highly sensitive” HR stories.
There were a pair of guys who loved to accuse everyone of discriminating against them because they both happened to be gay. I don’t think they were paying very close attention though, because the mental health field– and our hospital especially– was full of gay people who held executive positions and made life-savings decisions. I don’t doubt our somewhat backward state was full of bigots, but the hospital was fairly progressive in terms of diversity and inclusion (at least when it came to sexual orientation, not race). Regardless, they hunted victimization like a Buzzfeed contributor hunts gifs.
I rarely made it through a week without some sort of drama coming from them– Whether it was the dash cam one of them used to spy on coworkers to see who might be sleeping with each other, or their proclivity for printing out other people’s court records and posting them in the bathroom for everyone to see. It was always something. But this was my favorite:
Week One: Dude A walks in my office:
“I was in the abandoned wing with Dude B and saw an old chalkboard I want to use for presentations. Do you think I can have it?”
He shows me a photo of the board and I tell him I’ll look into it. Meanwhile I tell Security to change the locks because no one needs to be in that pigeon shit and condom covered area of the hospital.
Week Two: Dude B walks in my office:
“I’m super upset about something.”
He pulls his phone out and shows me a photo of that exact same chalkboard, only now it’s been written on.
His words imply he’s upset but his eyes shine like it’s Christmas morning and he’s fighting a smile.
“I’m so offended,” he says. “I think someone wrote that just so I would see it.”
That seemed like a bit of a reach, since it was in the middle of a hallway no one would ever expect him to walk down.
“Why were you even over there?” I asked.
My question upset him.
“The warehouse sent me there to get a chair,” he said.
Unless he was looking for a chair possessed by the spirit of a long lost patient from the 1920s, I highly doubted that. I called the warehouse and they said they’d told him to look in surplus.
“I must have misunderstood them,” he said.
I asked a few more questions and he became even more defensive.
“I feel really unsupported,” he said. “I don’t think I should talk about this without my attorney.”
I sent him on his way then went over to see the sign for myself.
I went ahead and reported it to Internal Affairs and they asked if the handwriting looked familiar. It was obvious the left side had been written by someone’s opposite hand, but the right side was normal. Following my hunch, I sifted through two years worth of award nominations that Dude B had filled out for Dude A.
I shit you not, he hadn’t even bothered to disguise his handwriting. It was a perfect match.
I called the investigator back (the same one who would eventually question me about my vulva) and told him what I’d realized. I sent the photos and handwriting samples and he agreed that Dude B had probably written it.
“I’ll take care of this,” he said.
I wondered if the Dudes’ reign of terror would finally be put to an end and they’d be called on their bullshit. I’d already wasted enough of my life on their accusations that someone was homophobic just because they didn’t say “LOL” when shown a video of Miley Cyrus dancing with a giant stuffed animal.
Later that afternoon Dude A and Dude B stopped by to check in on whether I’d “alerted the authorities” about the sign. I told them Internal Affairs would be in touch.
“This is an act of aggression,” Dude A said. “Obviously this hospital is not safe for us.”
“Yeah,” Dude B said. “There was even more hateful stuff written on the back about killing gay people, but we wiped it off before we realized we needed to report it.”
Dude A nodded with his eyes wide.
This was a weird development, since I’d taken photos of both sides of the chalkboard. The back was just a bulletin board with workplace posters from the 80s. There was nothing they could have “wiped off” of it.
I waited to hear an update from Internal Affairs, but it was radio silence. A few weeks later Dude B popped by my office.
“Thanks for getting all that taken care of,” he said. “I appreciated the apology.”
Apparently our CEO called him at home to apologize and promised to enact better policies regarding tolerance. Several members of the hospital’s board also sent emails letting him know they wouldn’t stand for such behavior and appreciated his bravery.
Let’s call this warning sign #6273 that I should have quit that place years before I finally did.
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Have you ever caught someone in a lie? Do you know anyone who likes to play the victim card?