Bad shit happened. Dolores was forced to resign because she was having too many personal problems that got in the way of her being able to properly perform her duties. A new supervisor arrived synchronously as she departed. Dorothy was as far from Dolores as Kansas is from OZ. In her mid-thirties, Dorothy was a Jewish American Princess of the mental illness world. She was petite, well groomed, and shapely, but unfortunately for everyone else, her personality was hard, cold, and phony. She was instantly disliked by patients and staff and had no clue how they felt. They’d smile to her face, then turn away and make weird faces or stick their fingers down their throats.
I felt nauseous when I moved within ten feet of Dorothy’s sucrose smile and pasty complexion, a result of too much institutional food and florescent lighting. Dorothy was ambitious and spiteful and a contrary stickler for rules and regulations. She was angry and bitter because she hadn’t made it to the top of the trash heap yet. She’d also failed in her numerous attempts to get pregnant. ‘Thank goodness’, I thought. If anyone could mother the anti-Christ, it was Dorothy. As I got to know her, I thought of Dorothy as a festering canker sore from hell. She instantly sabotaged patient progress and undermined my efforts to succeed with my classes. I began to hate her.
One day after work, we exited employee parking together. I followed her onto the Styx River Parkway heading south along Purgatory’s east side. High speed traffic was weaving a perilous web of chaos ahead and behind of us. I imagined Mel Gibson in “Road Warrior” as I tailgated Dorothy by inches at over 70 mph. She glanced nervously in her rear view mirror, wondering what I’d do next. I’d pull up beside her, smile, and drop back on her tail. Had she braked, I’d have rear ended her, but I was confident she’d stay cool. That was the beginning of the end of my optimism and my time working at the hospital.
In public service, it’s not so easy to get rid of someone if they don’t want to leave. You have to make a person so miserable that they choose to quit. When I returned to work the following week, Dorothy acted as though nothing had happened. Instead, she enforced the rules to try to force me to give up. She hit me hardest in my most vulnerable spot, my desire to work with high functioning patients. She insisted that I must devote myself to serving the whole patient population. The cabinet was deaf to my argument that there was a lack of meaningful programming for the dozen highest functioning patients. I had built a feeling of trust and had made considerable progress. My other argument was that my salary represented less than two percent of what those twelve patients were costing the state yearly. I began flooding Dorothy with memos justifying my self-created job. I also sent memos to the rehab counselor, cabinet, and the big wigs in the mental health field in Purgatory. My public relations strategy was poorly received by the cabinet. They saw themselves as having been kicked below the belt.
Dorothy countered with an attack on my schedule. She insisted I work three days. She chose days when she knew I had teaching jobs and personal business. I attempted to compromise, but could see my circumstances were rapidly deteriorating into futility. Dorothy told me, “Perhaps you are too creative for the rehab department. There’s no room for your pioneering spirit”. I was summoned to the hospital director’s office for a private conference. She wanted to discuss my dissatisfaction with Dorothy’s supervisory actions, but this was a pretense to warn me that I had better keep hospital business in the hospital. I clenched my teeth and readied myself for battle. I let her know the head of rehab for the whole underworld had told me that our hospital was not permitted by law to operate the sheltered workshop under the plan which her cabinet had approved.
Over the next several months, Dorothy continued to be abusive and oblivious to the needs and concerns of her staff. She pulled rank on everyone as often as possible. Not only we did we feel unappreciated; we were actually degraded and looked down upon. All the members of the rehab staff were eventually forced to resign. Even though I was there the least, I held out until last. Obviously, there was a hidden agenda. Dorothy was mandated to clean house. On my second anniversary, I wrote this letter of resignation.
It saddens me to be writing this. I have been given no choice, but to resign from this institution. Perhaps you have a hidden agenda. Dorothy has been mandated to `clean house’. If this is not the case, Dorothy has forced dedicated staff members to leave. Everyone here was aware of Dorothy’s physical handicaps and personal problems. We tried to empathize and make allowances for her negative attitude, but this is no excuse for her complete lack of caring and support. Dorothy has been brutally oblivious to the needs and concerns of her staff and to the needs and concerns of your patients.
It’s ironic to say that your staff feels underappreciated. Truth is they were degraded and harassed. Dorothy continually made counterproductive and unreasonable demands. She tried to delegate her own responsibilities to Zandor, who received a counseling memo when he objected to doing out of title work. Billy received a counseling memo for his generosity in rewarding the dedicated and hardworking maintenance staff a ‘Thank You’ plaque that he paid for himself. They helped us set up the woodworking shop.
Enclosed is a copy of my latest correspondence with Dorothy. Her response was that I’m “too creative”. The rehab department has “no room for my pioneering spirit”. She insisted I must change my schedule to a Monday or Friday, knowing these days conflict with other work. She threatened to assign me tasks which clearly don’t use my abilities to their best advantage. I’m still waiting for an evaluation that was due weeks ago.
I’m no longer concerned with the future of my career. I’m concerned about the future of patients. They’ve been deprived of caring and capable staff members including Dolores, Bruce, Barbara, Billy, Maya, Carolyn, and Zandor. I plan to take action in order to insure that Dorothy’s horrible behavior is exposed.
I sent copies to Dorothy, the cabinet, and various department managers in the hospital. The cabinet hostilely interrogated me behind closed doors. They were on the defensive and squirming in their seats as they attempted to put me on the defensive. They agreed that I was projecting my unresolved conflicts with my mother onto Dorothy and suggested I seek psychiatric help for my problem. I said I was going to write a book about the experience and approach the media. They said they’d find a way to ruin me.
I found my “I don’t get mad, I get even” button and pinned it next to “Since I gave up hope, I feel much better” on the lapel of my jacket. I’d let down patients who I’d so eagerly promised to help. Gene’s prophecy had come true. I’d disappear and never contact them again. I’d strengthened everyone’s fear and distrust of everyone.
Stay tuned as I begin to unravel…