I have never been one to take advantage of an “I told you so” situation. I’ve always just wanted to fix the issue, not live in the moment and gloat about the win. I just want everyone to feel loved, cared for, and empowered. I don’t dwell on those moments, because I’ve grown up being responsible and knowing “the next right thing” to do. I’ve lived that angle of life, and I’ve lived on the other side of it too. Gloating never got me anywhere in any kind of relationship.
I’ve been given more opportunities, blatant and subconsciously, to have these self-aggrandizing moments. My abusers, authority figures, parents, and mentors have all given me one kind of opportunity or another to shove it in their face. Today was the first time I ever chose to take someone up on the offer. Did it change anything? I’d be ready to ask, does it ever? (No, it really doesn’t if you needed to see that) Honestly though, it kind of did this time!
My superior asked my department today, “what can we do to be proactively mitigating the risk of our employees catching COVID-19?” Now, some quick context for how my day was going by 8am was showing up to work without my laptop at 6:10, driving 44mi round trip to retrieve it and get back onsite. By 7am, I was receiving a call from our temp-screeners that they’d been verbally acosted by an employee who felt it was the vendor’s responsibility to chastise employees in front of an audience for not having their masks. This employee knows they should only approach their colleagues in a tone that is from a place of care vs. fear. They knew there were masks in the Security post less than 10ft behind them, but did they take these written policy instructions and remind them about the free masks? No. He instead cussed out the 1 person tent for not going after them and making it known they needed to go to Security for a mask. Is it right the screener let them through without saying anything? No, but was it worse that he cussed the poor girl out? Yes. It actually is, in my opinion.
I digress though, back to the original question. I brought up the CARES and HEROES Act that our federal government passed in regards to working conditions for essential businesses. They were SO quick to utilize the essential business classification, and so negligent to ignore the ammendment/state mandate of hourly workers being permitted to work from home like salary workers if their jobs can be completed offsite. It wasn’t conducive to them to trust their employees to work while at home regardless of the productivity being proven. I have a doctor’s note even, stating that I’m immuno-compromised and should be away from the threat of COVID-19. My HR department realized 9 weeks later that I had been working from home, and their lecture included, “… regardless of the fact we didn’t know you were off-site the last 2 months, how are we supposed to know you’re productive and working during your day?” I’m pretty sure the fact they went 9 weeks without noticing I wasn’t there spoke to the quality of the work I was submitting. My boss hung his head as he remembered telling me he didn’t want to know the details so he didn’t get emotionally invested in arguments like that. Today, after a 20 person outbreak, phone call from the County, and 2 deaths, that I was right and they should explore the option to reduce their risk in having people like me onsite. Can you say lawsuit?!
COVID-19 is an OSHA recordable if the employee can prove their infection was caused by work exposure. In the last 3 months I’ve been onsite, I’ve been exposed in some fashion (not long enough to meet the criteria set forth by the CDC) through my environment and/or direct interaction with an infected employee more than 5 times. I’ve been lucky this far, but with how sick my mom got and how desperate I am to see her (but can’t until I haven’t been exposed for 14 days) as well as my own chronic illness, I’m playing with fire. What doctor will write disability claims for healthy and willing to work employees just so they can have piece of mind and quarantine themselves? None. They’ll write the note stating they’re professional opinion is to allow this hourly employee the ability to work from home, and that they will refuse to sign any disability forms just so the company can invoke FMLA.
So that’s where I stand. My boss finally recognizes the fight I’ve been in, and at round 9 I’m grateful. Even if it’s just the fear of a lawsuit, I’ll take it so I can protect myself. I’ll take it so I can continue being the productive assistant I can be. I’ll thrive so that I can collaborate with a clear head, instead of taking a 17 hour nap after 7 straight weeks of work (7 days a week, 8 hours a day). Stress is not a conducive energy source for long term health or sanity. I’ve definitely seen the physical side effects starting to impact my sleep, attitude, and cognitive function. Sounds like a great recipe for someone around heavy machinery…
Good luck out there guys. Advocate for yourselves no matter how long it takes. This will end someday, it will become a memory and something I regrow from. I will have energy to combat my personal struggles (a post to come…or a book ha!) as well as professional. I will overcome this awful time in my life.