The Plan

It’s probably safe to say that the last year-and-a-half or so has postponed or derailed a lot of plans. Covid-19 isn’t over, and it’s still affecting our lives. Just this past week, I was scheduled to take a certification exam for my job, that I had prepared for over the last few months, only to find a note on the door of the testing center reading, “Closed Due to Covid-19”. Apparently, one of the employees was exposed to Covid-19, or had it, and the office had to close for a few days.

I couldn’t take the exam last year due to the virus either, but hopefully within the next couple of weeks I will be able to. I think we’re just going to have to learn how to live with Covid-19 for a while. Life can’t be put on hold forever. Get vaccinated. Wear your mask, and live your life.

But there are other ways my life has been on hold, mostly of my doing, but also because my now ex-husband had a good job here. I felt like I’d be uprooting the whole family just for my career. Turns out, I should have uprooted and looked out for myself. I feel like such a dope.

I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in natural resources in 2017. Here it is 4 years later, and I’m working in the basement of a hospital, doing something I never pictured myself doing. Do I regret spending 3 years of my life there? No. I figure if I can survive that job, I can tackle about anything. The stress. The workload. The responsibility.

It’s been a very humbling experience. It’s about as low as you can go in a hospital job, or just about any job. Nobody even knows we’re there. It’s funny that I never once thought about who takes care of the instruments being used on me as a patient. Laundry crossed my mind, housekeepers I had spoken to before, we all know about hospital food, but I guess I assumed that the surgical instruments automagically took care of themselves. I can’t feel too bad about that, though. The surgeons seem to think it’s all magic, too. Demanding an instrument they dropped on the floor to be resterilized in 5 minutes is kinda silly, considering it’s at minimum a nearly two-hour process. Do they think we just run the instruments under the faucet?

But working such a humbling job has opened my eyes. I don’t know if you ever noticed or not, but I can be a bit full of myself at times. I consider myself a fairly smart person. Maybe I don’t have the most common sense at times, but I’m not dumb. Neither are any of the people I work with. Some are even quite brilliant.

There’s a young musician with a wonderful personality and wisdom well beyond his years. There’s a woman who immigrated to the United States from the Philippines who is as smart as can be. I’ve learned a lot from her. She reminds me of my mom in a lot of ways, and she took me under her wing, even though we got off on the wrong foot initially. She’s nearly the same age as what my mom would be today. They have the same short temper, kind heart, and low tolerance for bullshit.

Nearly everyone there wishes they were somewhere else. Nobody dreams of being a sterile processing technician as a child. There’s a lot of jobs that we fall into as an adult that aren’t quite our thing, but you do what you have to do.

Do I plan on staying there forever? No. In fact, I’m going back to school, this time at Michigan State University. I’ll be studying geographic information systems, something that I was exposed to at Oregon State. It was one of my favorite classes. It’s only a certificate program, but hopefully it’s enough to prove to employers that I’m still interested in my field of study. Sterile processing and the population dynamics of bullfrogs don’t exactly have a lot in common. Instead of studying organisms, I kill them, well, the smallest of organisms anyway that can make you sick during an operation.

Also, since it’s Michigan State, it’s located in the Midwest, where I hope to find work. Hopefully, I can make some contacts and impress the right people. If I was younger, I’d move to Oregon, where I know I could find a job fairly easily. But being a mom and a grandmother keeps me anchored to this part of the country. I wouldn’t mind relocating to Michigan. It’s a beautiful state, and it’s not 2000 miles away!

Well, we all know how plans go. Usually they don’t go the way we thought they would, but getting back in the game makes me feel a million times better about myself. My heart just aches when I ride by the places I did so many field studies at as a college student.

Spending five days a week in a hospital basement feels like I’m submerged beneath the ocean in a submarine. I can’t see the sunlight, feel the fresh air, or even have any proof that I’m still on planet earth. We have no contact with the outside world, or patients. It’s kind of like a factory setting, but with mean, nasty nurses and surgical techs yelling at you because they think they’re superior, and we’re their personal slaves. Some are nice, but some are horrible!

I’ve always been a strong advocate for the little guy. I’m even more so one now. Anybody working a full-time job should be paid a living wage. Period. Everyone should be given respect. Period. Those people low on the totem pole are much smarter than you think.

Mostly, right now, I live for the weekends, but I want to live for every day. Life is too short to do a job you have to drag yourself into. Still, I don’t regret the experience, and I’ll still do the best job I can while I’m there, but knowing that there’s possibly light at the end of the tunnel, makes all the difference.

I felt like I was drowning, until I made a new plan.

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