Maybe reconsider your profession?

Leslie Silverman

I’ve decided to focus on incompetent workers this week. People who are so bad at their job, they likely should think of a new career. No, this had nothing to do with the recent departure of the Donald, who some feel was the most incompetent person to lead this great country.

Rather it has to do with Sadie. You see, she apparently does not have cancer and is not dying. In fact what she did have was a kidney on the verge of rupturing.

I had two incompetent vets looks at her x-ray and determine that it was “most likely cancer.” One vet actually offered to “put her down” saying there was likely nothing else to be done. I chose to get a second opinion and paid for exploratory surgery, which showed that in fact the large mass on the x-ray was her kidney.

Unfortunately, that vet “didn’t feel comfortable” removing the kidney and stitched her back up. That vet couldn’t even link the GI issues Sadie was having to the failing kidney.

Vet number three was completely competent, explaining why all of her GI issues were linked to her kidney. She removed the failed organ and kept her at the hospital for two nights. Sadie is now resting comfortably by my side.

I don’t expect everyone to be perfect at his or her job. I’m pretty sure Gray and Jason know how often I make mistakes! But I do feel I’m competent at my profession. I work hard to ask questions when I need help and learn from my mistakes. I like what I do and I think I’m a good writer. I certainly have had jobs that I was 100 percent not qualified for.

Don’t laugh, but one of my hardest jobs was working at a produce stand when I was 17. Just thinking about it causes me anxiety. Do you realize how many varieties of squash there are? Or apples? Or potatoes? People would ask for two pounds of acorn squash by name and I’d beg them to point at said item so I’d have a clue as to which squash it was! I lasted four  hours on that job. I kid you not!

Some people are born to do the job they do. In my early 40s I went by motorcycle to Moab, Utah with a friend of mine. We got caught in a flash flood. Soaked and exhausted we treated ourselves to a hot pizza dinner. The place we chose was packed. Our waitress took our order and proceeded to take two other tables orders as well, a family of about seven and a table of three French men. She didn’t write a single order down. I should add the menu included burgers, sandwiches, steaks and a full service bar.

I remember the French men kept asking questions and changing their orders. I watched as she returned to each table, putting each plate down exactly in front of the person who ordered it. She made no mistakes. I was in awe. I pulled her aside before I left and told her she was the best waitress I had ever seen. I asked her her secret. She told me her very first job was at McDonald’s and that her manager there told her she would be a better worker if she memorized each customer’s order. So she trained herself to do that. And some 20 years later, her self-training was paying off, at least from my perspective because I tipped her 30 percent that night.

How do we know if we are doing a good job at our job? Sometimes it’s easy to tell. Our boss lets us know, a coworker praises us, a customer gives us a tip or a compliment. Sometimes it’s not so easy to know.

I know in my previous career there were days I felt I was great at my job and others where I felt I was terrible. I spent my days with 25-35 captive “customers” each with different needs. When I first began my career I would lie awake at night analyzing every word I said wondering the impact of each utterance. Later I soothed myself by the reminder of “you’re doing your best and you care.”

By the time I left that 30-year career my goal each day was to continue to try my best, to always be positive and to not make anything worse, regardless of the situation. To me that was being at the very least, competent.

At some jobs there are specific, measurable outcomes that determine competency, like typing so many words a minute or successfully resolving so many customer complaints. But many jobs have a spectrum of non-measurable results or outcomes.

I wonder how many of us just think we are competent at our jobs when we really aren’t. (Funny how this comes full circle to what some feel about the former leader of our country).

So are any of us perfect at our jobs? Of course not. But I gotta say that when I find someone who is fantastic at what they do, I try to let them know. My tiny town has a ton of fantastic workers who go above and beyond. I try to say “you rock” to them every now and then so they know they are appreciated! The one man show who just fixed my house’s septic issues — I wrote a big thanks on the check I mailed him. When I find someone who does their job well I tell everyone about them, so that they too can have the best person for the job!

As for the two vets who seemed to be not so competent in what they do...I can only hope they were each having off days or that they learned from this situation so that no one else has to go through the roller coaster of digging a grave for a pet who is not in fact dying. And to the vet who took out my girl’s kidney, I left her office by saying, “I can’t thank you enough. You saved my dog’s life.”

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