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Didn't Know She Was Looking

When I was in graduate school, I had two close classmates. I wrote an earlier blog about one of them, Jannie. (If you haven’t read it, check out “Anatomy of a Friendship.”) My other grad school friend was Cozette. We were very supportive of each other and fully committed to all three of us marching across the stage to get our new MSW degrees. I am not sure I would have made it without them.

As the end of our last year approached, with graduation looming but a few short weeks away, both Jannie and Cozette accepted job offers. I didn’t have one. While I was I very happy for them, I grew increasingly that I didn’t have a job lined up.

At that time my husband Nashid was a consultant and while his income was fairly high, our health insurance was very high (we had a one-year-old). The larger worry was that his contract could end abruptly at any time. We experienced that once during this period and he was out of work for about three or four months. Our son was barely a month old at that time and I was in school. To say that was a scary time would be a gross understatement. Both Nashid and I were relying on my finishing school and getting a government job with stability and good benefits.

I was offered (and happily accepted) a job with a major hospital system. I was beyond excited: my husband, son and I would have good insurance and my employment was stable. Not only that, after I accepted the offer, I later received another letter before I even began telling me my pay would be higher due to salary adjustments across the board for all state employees. I was ecstatic!

Nashid and I would both be working downtown; less than two miles from each other. Since I would have had to pay a handsome monthly amount for parking downtown, we rode to work together unless one of us had to alter our schedule. This arrangement required that I arrive to work almost an hour early each day. I didn’t care one bit. I was so excited to finally be able to help shoulder some of the financial load for my family. I would arrive early, go into the main social work office, check my mail and head over to my office which was in another part of the hospital. I went to work early, checked my mail, went to my office, and dropped off my personal belongings and then immediately went to my assigned hospital floor and started my workday.

After doing this for about a year, my director called me into her office one Friday afternoon. I was nervous; other than a few department meetings I hadn’t had much contact with her. Once the meeting was scheduled, I kept going over my recent actions and communications, to see if I had done anything wrong but couldn’t come up with anything. I tried to get some information on the purpose of the meeting from my supervisor, but he didn’t seem to know any more than I did.

When I arrived in my director’s office, she motioned for me to take a seat. The director said there would be an opening soon for a supervisor. She told me I should apply. I was nervous and said that I wasn’t sure I was ready for that kind of responsibility. My director said that she had watched me since I joined the staff. She said, you come early, and you go to work. You are performing well, and you are ready. I replied that I only arrived to work early because I ride with my husband. She said, “Well that may be true, but you don’t have to start working early and you don’t have to stay late.” I was surprised as she recounted specific job duties I had performed while “not on the clock.” I think she saw the perplexed look on my face and understood my confusion. How did she know what I doing? My director told me she had been at my level once and knew how much time it took to execute certain functions and it was her job to stay abreast of the happenings in her organization. She knew the time I was putting in. When I stood up to leave, she said, “I’ve seen all I need to see.” I didn’t even know she was looking.

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