Expect the expected. Bad shit happened. Dolores was forced to resign. Too many personal problems got in the way of her being able to properly perform her duties. A spanking new supervisor synchronously arrived as Dolores departed. Aside from Do, Dorothy was farther from Dolores than Kansas is from OZ. Dorothy, a Jewish American Princess (JAP) of the mental illness world, looked a lot better than she was. In her mid-thirties, she was petite, pretty, and shapely. Her personality was hard, cold, and phony. She was instantly disliked by patients and staff but had no clue how anyone felt. Most of us smiled to her face, turned away, made weird faces, or stuck a finger down our throats… a sadly laughable situation.
I felt nauseous as I wondered if Dorothy’s sucrose smile and pasty complexion resulted from too much institutional food and florescent lighting. Dorothy was spiteful, contrary, and a stickler for rules and regulations. She was angry that she hadn’t made it to the top of the trash heap yet. She had also failed after many attempts at getting pregnant. ‘Thank god’, I mused. Dorothy might actually be a mother of an anti-Christ. As I got to know her, I began seeing her as a festering canker sore from hell. She sabotaged patient progress and undermined my success at promoting class participation. I hated her.
One day after work we drove away from the employee parking lot at the same time. I followed her onto the Styx River Parkway heading south on Purgatory’s east side. High speed traffic wove perilous webs of chaos betwixt lanes. I imagined myself as Mel Gibson’s Road Warrior and tailgated Dorothy within inches. I’d surely have rear ended her had she braked, but I was confident she’d stay cool.
Glancing nervously in her rear-view mirror, Dorothy wondered what I’d do next. I’d pull up beside her, smile, and drop back on her tail again. That was the beginning of the end of my time working at the hospital and of my letting go of undying idealism and optimism. I decided I wasn’t going to let anyone get away with anything. I felt protected by the Public Service Union. It’s not easy to get rid of anyone who doesn’t want to leave. You have to make a person so miserable that they choose to leave. I returned to work the following week.
Dorothy acted as though nothing had happened. She used the rules to attempt to force me to quit. She hit me hardest in my most vulnerable spot. My desire to work with high functioning patients had been my primary goal since I’d arrived. Dorothy insisted I must devote myself to serving the whole patient population. The Cabinet knew Dorothy was an asshole. They were deaf to my argument that the obvious lack of meaningful programming for the dozen highest functioning patients needed addressing. I’d built trust with this group and made considerable progress. My other argument was that my salary was less than two percent of what those twelve patients were costing the state yearly. What a fabulous investment!
I began flooding Dorothy with memos justifying my self-created career. I copied Zandor, rehab counselor, the cabinet, and the big wigs in Central Mental Health Care in Purgatory. My public relations strategy to save myself was poorly received. Aside from the fact that no one but me was willing to take responsibility, I was kicking the cabinet below the belt by confronting them.
Dorothy countered with an attack on my schedule. She insisted I work three days instead of two. She chose days when she knew I had other teaching jobs and personal business. I tried to compromise, but could clearly see my efforts and circumstances were becoming futile.
“Perhaps you are too creative for the rehab department”, Dorothy told me. “There’s no room for your pioneering spirit”. I was soon summoned to the hospital director’s office for a private conference. She wanted to discuss my dissatisfaction with Dorothy’s supervisory actions, a pretense to warn me that I had better keep hospital business within the hospital. I clenched my teeth and fists and readied myself for battle. The head of rehab for the entire underworld had told me that our hospital was not permitted by law to operate a sheltered workshop under the plan the cabinet had previously encouraged and approved. They’d scammed everyone to enhance next year’s budget.
For several months, Dorothy continued to be abusive and oblivious to my needs and the needs and concerns of staff and patients. She pulled rank on everyone as often as she could. Not only did we feel unappreciated, we were degraded and looked down upon. Every member of the rehab staff was eventually forced to resign. Though I was there the least, I held out the longest. Dorothy had been mandated to clean house. The hidden agenda was obvious. I wrote the following letter of resignation.
It saddens me to be writing this, but I’ve been given no choice. Dorothy was mandated to clean house and fulfill your hidden agenda. This may sound paranoid, but Dorothy has forced every dedicated staff member to leave. Everyone was aware of Dorothy’s physical handicaps and personal problems. We tried to empathize and made allowances for negative attitudes, but that’s no excuse for her complete lack of caring and support. Dorothy has been oblivious to the needs and concerns of her staff and the needs and concerns of patients.
It’s ironic to say that your staff felt underappreciated. They felt degraded and harassed as Dorothy relentlessly made counterproductive and unreasonable demands. She attempted to delegate her responsibilities to Zandor, who received a counseling memo when he objected to doing out of title work. Billy (the other half of my position) 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 graciously 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” for a rehab department that has “no room for my pioneering spirit”. She insisted I must change my schedule to a Monday or Friday, knowing these days conflict with my other work. She threatened to assign me tasks which clearly don’t use my obvious abilities to their advantage. I’m still waiting for a work evaluation that was due weeks ago.
I’m no longer concerned with the future of my career. I’m concerned about the future of the patients. They’ve been deprived of caring and capable staff members including Dolores, Bruce, Barbara, Billy, Maya, Carolyn, and Zandor. I plan to expose your cruel injustice and confirm your complicity in Dorothy’s horrible behavior and bad management practices.
I sent copies to Dorothy, the cabinet, and other department managers around the hospital. Cabinet members were hostile as they interrogated me behind closed doors. They were on the offensive and squirming in their seats as they attempted to put me on the defensive. They all agreed I was projecting my unresolved conflicts with my mother onto Dorothy. They suggested I seek psychiatric help for my problem. I said I was planning to write a (this) book about my experience and approach the media. They told me 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 my “Since I gave up hope, I feel much better” button on the lapel of my jacket. I couldn’t believe I’d let down the patients who I’d so eagerly promised to help and champion. Gene’s prophecy had come true. I’d disappear and never see anyone again. I had strengthened everyone’s fear and distrust of everyone’s everything all the time.
Stay tuned as I begin to unravel…