And I am still not totally okay with the whole way this went down.
I tore up my shoulder and rotator cuff in November. At work. It hurts. A lot.
But I’ve been trotting into work every day, working away, like what I do is important. I have physical therapy appointments (torture) and worker’s comp appointments, so it seems like I’m leaving early every day, except if you looked at our sign-in/sign-out page, you would see that I come in early every day and usually leave at or after four.
If I leave early, it is usually a half hour early, since I try to get the last appointment of the day but it takes me an hour to get home. (And by the way, the sign-in/sign out sheet isn’t supposed to be used to actually keep track of when we arrive or leave. It’s supposed to be for our safety and security, to make sure we haven’t been left behind, murdered most foully and stuffed in a dumpster. However, I look at it to see who is at work, what lame excuse they have for being late, when people leave. I am quite the gawker and will willingly confess to it.)
On Monday, my shoulder really hurt. I can quantify it only by the fact I was sitting at my desk crying. That little 1-10 pain chart is useless, since my shoulder hurts so much that even my headaches pale in comparison. And that is saying a lot.
So I dropped off a note to my supervisor, asking to go home early so I could stop at the doctor. His supervisor (Bea) approved it but said she needed a note proving I had actually gone to the doctor. Sure, no problem, since I wasn’t going home to watch Judge Judy. But I really hate for people to call me a liar. It just ticks me off.
So I go to my doctor with that really high I’m-in-some-serious -pain blood-pressure (196/154) and he decided that I was going too long between my pain meds. I was taking some when I got home and some when I went to bed, but nothing all day long. I have a long commute I can’t be drugged for and I work with some serious criminals I can’t be drugged for. So I hurt a lot. And that kind of hurting with that kind of blood pressure can kill a person. And as entertaining as I find my profession, I sure don’t want to die there or get airlifted off the yard.
He put me on two weeks at half days. The last time I shredded my rotator cuff, I was out for a year. This time, I thought I could hurt just as easily at work as at home…and since my workplace is having huge layoffs, I foolishly thought it was important that I keep my class going. I gave Bea the note when I got to work; return to work usually gets a faxed copy every time I see the doctor. If there is a problem, I get a call around 8 am.
So I am sending out homework and correcting essays and Bea comes into my office. I tell her how successful my students are (I’ve just spent four hours correcting essays and I have a huge stack of corrected work to mail out). I even have 120 packets of work already addressed and ready to mail out. She tells me that she has given my half day leave request a lot of thought and is just not going to be able to accommodate me so I need to leave now. I say, Well, sure. (Thinking to myself “Self, all that mail can just sit in the mail bin because I am not dragging it down in the rain.”). She also says ” I will OF COURSE pay you for a half day, today, but I will need your PCR before you leave.”
A PCR is a permanent class record of attendance. Just like teachers on the street, we keep track of when a student is present or absent and if they are absent, why they are absent. My students don’t come to class, so I don’t keep an attendance record. I use a PCR form for my class roster, but it is just a roster. I keep notes on each assignment on the little flagged Excel comment feature but that doesn’t print out. So my PCR is just a list 120 students. I fixed it so the last Julian date automatically changes, so mine was only current to the 26th. But it was current.
It takes about four hours to get a regular class PCR ready to turn in. The numbers all have to work out for each student and each column and each page is linked. Everything has to total out right. There are about 3400 cells where you can make a mistake and you have to go through each one to find out where the mistake is–it is usually a typo, like 6.6 instead of 66 or .6. or even ,6 or 6,0. It is quite a picky piece of work and I have probably made every kind of mistake possible on my PCR that is possible to make. I have spent days looking for the mistake because it is just part of a huge monthly report that goes to Sacramento. What they do with it is beyond me, because when the layoffs were being discussed last year, the Office of Correctional Education told the Governor that they had no idea what the heck the teachers were doing; they had no reports or feedback from the adult schools in the 33 prisons in the state. REALLY? What have they been doing with the 1200 reports I’VE sent in?
ANYWAY, it irked me that she waited until I was going to leave to let me know she wanted it. And by saying she would pay me for four hours when she had just dropped what she thought was at least another four hours of work in my lap…well. That’s all I’m sayin’.
She didn’t mean my PCR. My PCR is meaningless. What she meant was my gigantic end of the month report. But that is what she said. Emphatically. Then she had the secretary call me to tell me unequivocally that I had to have my PCR on her desk before I would be allowed to leave. (Makes you think there is someone with a billy club to stop me.)
SO I printed out my PCR along with a memo, saying blah blah blah, as you are unable to accommodate the request for a half day from Dr. McTexas for the injury I received at work on November 10 blah blah blah. As per your request, I have printed out a PCR which is current to January 26.
My desk is locked and blah blah blah are secured blah blah blah.
I get another snippy call from the secretary (who is snippy all the time) she needed my PCR , no ifs ands or buts and I’d be back in two weeks, right? So I chipperly said the PCR is printing right now and I’ll get a release from the doctor when I return. Then I shut off my computer, dropped off my paperwork and left. No billy clubs in sight.
I was upset all the way out and all the way home. Worker’s Comp pays crap for staying home. But then I started running numbers in my head (that’s what a Master’s in Math will get you; the ability to run numbers in your head). Because of taxes and pay cuts and furlough’s I’ll bring home more money. That cheered me up, even though what I had heard from Miss Bea was “I’ll pay you for your miserable four hours-get the hell out.”
The game does not build character; it reveals it. ~ Heywood Broun
And, since I COULD work, but was turned down, it wasn’t as if I’m too sick to do anything. I can do all manner of things to keep me happy and busy and occupied.
Once I have surgery and it is torture, I’m looking at a 3-6 month recovery period. I’ve done it once and am not looking forward to it at all. It’s not even the cortisone shots, although they will make you levitate. It’s not the IV. It’s those nurses in the recovery room. They hollered at me. “Drink this water!” “You don’t need any more drugs. Eat this cracker!”)
So I think I’ll retire when I go back, if the timeline runs anything like the last time I hurt my shoulder. I have to go to a retirement workshop and see which day is the day because it is just silly to leave money on the table. My institution is making massive cutbacks and laying off people right and left and cutting programs. When I go back, I would bet there will be maybe three people I even know still working. It’s not like I’m leaving a supportive community.
So I think yesterday was my final last day.