Saturday, June 23, 2012


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).


  1. This is absolutely not the right job for you and I'm sooo glad you screwed up the courage to tell your boss why you can't stay. Too bad they misrepresented the actual job responsibilities in the beginning... Very nice of you to offer to work as a vikar when they need help, and good to know they took you up on the offer. I find vikar work quite convenient and wish I could make a living just doing that, subbing in different places. I guess I should check out Manpower or another temp agency.

    So, we're all waiting to hear which job you chose; are you working in the museum or the nursing home?

    1. Yes, I need to write an update! The answer is: both!