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5.19.2009

Being the New Kid

One of the great things about my job is getting to know a lot of new people in my neighborhood, and learning more about the new place we're calling home. It's a small Texas town, and a new girl sort of sticks out like a sore thumb (a sore thumb with a particularly interesting last name.)

One of the not so great things about my job is being in retail, specifically the grocery store environment. It's a difficult line to walk - being professional, legally correct, ethical, and not having patients tell me I'm impersonal or cold. It's not that I don't remember Mrs. Jones, I just have to ask her for her birth date every time she picks up her medication. I have to get her driver's license number for the check. It doesn't matter that she's shopped there since 1955 and that girl at the front never asks for her license. I have to - it's my job. I get along great with the vast majority of our patients; there are always a few who don't like something (or someone) new. The patients I can deal with fine - they're older (for the most part), they're used to their routine, I'm a new face and they have to learn me as much as I have to learn them. I know there are some out to pull a fast one, and am keeping an eye out for that sort of thing, and learning more about that every day.

What I'm not always understanding is the co-worker situation. I've tried very hard to be nice to everyone, to not get involved in the cliques and other "stuff" that goes along with this workplace. For whatever reason I have a couple of people who clearly are not Kelly Fans, which is fine, but there is this constant hum of negative vibe from what I'll call The Peanut Gallery. Every mistake I make is brought up loudly, and all the things I "ought" to do differently are discussed whether I'm in earshot or not.

Honestly, it started off being the way I file (yup, you heard me, the way I file pieces of paper with stickers on them.) Because I didn't do it the way one person did, which meant it was wrong. Even though I knew it wasn't wrong technically, I had to endure a couple of weeks of sniping about this or that, or why did I do this or that (welcome to my personal hell - why did you highlight the prescription number? Because I'm new and it made them easier to see. So I could file faster. Even when I'm the only one looking at a set of papers to file. And my boss said it didn't matter.)

Then, of all things, my clothes. It was hot, and I did not wear the smock we have. I had on scrubs, name tag, everything exactly in place, just no smock. Because we're in Texas and it was over 90 degrees and we work in a little box. No one had said a word to me about it, except The Peanut Gallery. We progressed to my hair. Every time it varied... "oh, so you're pulling it back/ wearing it wavy/rolled it" whatever. With That Look. Y'all know what I'm talking about... That Look. Women have probably been giving other women That Look since time immemorial, and I got to be on the receiving end of it.

Today it came to a bit of a head, and our manager talked to me and The Peanut Gallery, neither of whom seemed to think anything was wrong, except for the one who said I talked down to her, and told me to stop. I maybe should not have said it, but my response was "I'd appreciate the same courtesy." Because lord help me I have tried to be nice. I've tried joking (but have quickly learned my sense of humor isn't exactly meshing with others.) I know, I know, I'm trying too hard. I don't even want to be friends with them, that's not why I go to work, but I want to be professional and civil.

Maybe I am a snob. I don't know. It's not that I'm a cold person, or a mean person, it just takes me time to get to know people, and especially when I'm new at work, I'm trying to focus on doing things correctly (especially now that I'm working in the pharmacy, and training to be a technician, and am literally dealing with people's health and well-being every day.) I get these sideways looks because I went out and found textbooks and bought them. I read them, I'm actively studying. I'm not waiting around for someone to tell me to do something. Maybe that's it? I just don't get what I'm doing wrong, or not doing, or why I'm getting the vocal reaction, and I'd really rather it just stop.

One thing that was said late this afternoon, after most everyone had left for the day, was something about church. I heard someone say "we have enough of those church people here as it is, we don't need any more." And then another voice said "If they acted like they went to church, this would be a better place to work."

So here is my plan - I don't want to talk about change. I don't want to talk about treating people better, or ignoring the sideways comments, or refocusing my mind. I've said my peace here... now is the time to do. I don't want to be one of those Church People who talks about what we did or are doing, or what all happened in the walls of church recently. I don't want my life to be the story of what I talked about doing - I want people to remember me for how I treated them, what I did, the things I did or the way I made them feel, and I want those things to be good. I want to feel good about myself and the job I do, and the only way I can do that is to simply focus on the tasks at hand and not think about what's being said on the sidelines. I simply cannot lose sight of the goal - particularly the ultimate goal - and get lost in the clutter of the day or the words spoken, or the emotion I feel at that moment.

But it is so much easier to say than to do...