Mere hours into my new job, I knew I had to quit.
This was mid-April. I had begun tending a patient who required one-on-one staffing in a sort of assisted living facility, and I was hired just a week before the job began. It was described as patient who did not need assistance every minute of the day, so during the quieter periods I could perhaps help the other health care assistants with other clients in the building. This sounded promising. Nice to have a variety of contact and responsibilities. Not due to anyone's fault in particular, it was a very inaccurate statement.
The assignment was much more demanding than anyone had imagined, and this became immediately clear my first day on the job. When I wasn't directly involved with the patient, I could sit in the hallway on a sofa, but must be immediately available for assistance. There was no "nurses station" in the near vicinity, as I had imagined. The staff lounge/work station was 3 floors down, and I couldn't leave the hallway for even a minute. On most shifts I spent hours on that sofa. For the night shift--50% of my job--I would spend nine hours sitting on that sofa, only occasionally rising and attending to the patient. There were other nights when I never needed to enter the apartment.
This was where the job fell short of my expectations. As my brother said, "There was a time in my life where I would have loved having a job where I could just read all day long", and yes. . . there were some perks to it. I got lots of knitting done, wrote lots of emails, read newspapers (in Norwegian), spent waaaaaay too many hours on Facebook, even updated this blog. But getting a paycheck was only one of the reasons I had gotten a job. I needed to speak to people. I needed to communicate with colleagues. I needed to get my language proficiency to a professional level, not a polite chatting level. My patient was essentially non-verbal. I could have more in-depth conversations in Norwegian with Greta. My interactions with colleagues amounted to the 2 minutes every shift when they would come and relieve me so I could sprint to the bathroom and back again.
Money in the bank? check. Language development? nope.
I knew I needed to quit. It was an awful feeling. Sickening, really, to quit a job just days after you've begun. But I couldn't ignore my gut telling me "You. Have. Options." Thankfully, I did have options. As I said, this was mid-April. I had two other job offers at the time--one at the Maihaugen museum, working in their gift shops (which admittedly are really nice gift shops), and the other at a nursing home as, essentially, a uncertified nursing assistant (read: lower pay than a certified nursing assistant). Both of these jobs were summer positions and would start in June.
After running the situation past a few trusted Norwegian friends, with connections to both the healthcare field and the national employment/unemployment office, they confirmed what my gut was telling me: quit the job. This was not to my benefit. I am not responsible to fix the staffing problems of this assignment. After a week or so, I looked up a few key words in my dictionary, summoned up some courage, and told my boss I'd be quitting at the end of May. It was a 5 week notice--pretty darn good, actually.
My boss was incredibly understanding, and said, "I've been thinking that it's really a waste to have you sitting here on this couch. . . " By this point, three other colleagues had already quit, some even before the job had begun. I offered to be available for the occasional shifts, as my schedule allowed (and as my bank account required). And that is where I am tonight: midnight, sitting on a couch in a hallway, trying to stay awake on the shortest night of the year (which unfortunately does not amount to the shortest shift of the year!), and blogging. . .
(Stay tuned for. . . ."Starting Again" the other new job).