In mid March as things were just starting to really come out about what was happening around the world, and how we should all be taking precautions, I had just taken two weeks off due to feeling over worked, and completely fed up with my job. It’s the kind of job that can wear you to the bone, both physically and emotionally, as well as possibly dangerous in “normal” times. We were hearing things more and more every day. As I was not getting any cooperation from those I worked for, and as a matter of fact, various situations with clients were becoming more and more stressful, and dangerous, I felt it was best that I took some time off to reassess my own situation. There was also a part of me that could read the writing on the wall, and knew that this virus was going to get worse before it got better. Where I worked, as I alluded to, on a good day, was unhealthy in every way. On the day before my “vacation”, in the community home and apartments where I worked, not only were we completely out of any kind of sanitizing cleaners, we had little cleaning supplies overall. We were expected to not only be there for the clients as counselors and emotional support people, but we were expected to clean up after them. Many extremely hazardous, and disgusting things were expected of us by our supervisor. Although the higher ups had told us that the “object was for people to do for themselves”, our immediate supervisor in no uncertain terms, yet in a very ambiguous way, (so as not to implicate herself), made it clear on a daily basis that if we did not do it, there “would be no job, and we could find another down the road.” One of her favorite things to say. As I am older, that left me with little choice. But it also left me at higher risk.
When it came time for me to return, my supervisor tried to be nice, and to placate me, saying that “it isn’t that bad.” That I was blowing it out of proportion. She actually asked me on the phone, as she chuckled, “Do you want to be sick, Susan?” It was a ridiculous question. (I had not felt well, and my doctor at that point, said that I “could not return until a week after my last day of any symptoms.) My boss was implying that it was all in my head. I asked fellow co workers later that day, what the situation was regarding supplies, and rules. The folks we worked with all know their rights, and again in “normal” times, refuse to wash, are abusive to employees, and hang out in less than ideal places, getting drugs, etc. My co worker informed me that nothing had changed. (There was also a death of a client who although he had had some physical illnesses was generally fine. But from the time I went on sick leave, about ten days later, he had become increasingly ill, to the point where he had stopped eating or drinking, and then passed.) I was told that it was from his other illnesses, but I feel he may have had covid19. But of course have no proof, and this was right before anyone in our area started testing people for it.
A week later, when I phoned to have an interview with my doctor to “clear me”, I had become worried that considering everything, along with my age, and family history, as well as some health issues, that it would be best if I took an extended leave of absence. Unfortunately, my doctor had called in for her own leave. I was transferred to another doctor, who was arrogant, and also dismissive. He said that he “didn’t feel that legally he could give me a doctor’s note for leave.” I explained the situation, and he said that he would “look into it, and get back to me”. He never did. My leave was up and I was suppose to return to work. My family knew what I had gone through with this job, and understood that it was dangerous for me to return, and urged me not to do so. And I agreed. I quit my job, and have not looked back. Unfortunately I am the main source of income in my immediate family. I do have a small income otherwise, but it isn’t enough for all of the bills. My family are doing what they can, and we are holding on.
I do not regret quitting. I believe in my heart that I was in danger, and am good with my decision. We will get by, it won’t be easy, but I’m alive.
I have been using my time probably like most, “visiting” family online, fixing things around the house, doing what is in my power to help, and working on my art.
I’ve done a few things recently, including a quick self portrait, (where I feel I may have been a bit too intense, heheh), and a portrait of Andrea Bocelli, as I was so moved by his performance in the empty Duomo in Milan Italy that I started on it soon after.
Do what you believe is best for you, your family, community, and the world. Stay safe, stay home, and flatten the curve for all of us. But also do something to feel better, for yourself and everyone else. I’ll catch you next time, because I’m still here and intend to be for as long as I can 🙂 .