A story about interruptions at work and all-too-familiar writing issues

Today is one of those days where all I can see are problems with my writing. Maybe I’m just grumpy?

Yesterday, at work (an accommodation service), I snapped at someone and then got told off for talking when I was not the one being spoken to. The case workers have been given tablets to use, but they do not know how to work them and prefer using the desktop computers. Their team leader has decided they have the primary right to use the support worker’s (my position’s) computer, which means we cannot check what tasks have been scheduled for us or do our notes. It is ridiculous and, as we cannot check if there are any alerts or concerns, rather irresponsible. Anyway, I quickly jumped on the computer when the case worker was going on a break. Just as we changed spots (and she kept complaining to me about the milk situation or something else to do with making coffee while I just got on with what I was doing), her team leader came in and said to her, ‘Oh! Don’t you need the computer?’ It was implied I had manipulated the case worker off the computer. To be honest, the computer would have been completely useless to her if I hadn’t kept helping her as she just kept sitting in front of it complaining she did not know how to do things. I interrupted with, ‘She’s going on a break and said I could use it.’ ‘Shh! I’m not talking to you.’ I was told. The team leader did apologise later, and I said I did know I interrupted.

To be honest, I was fuming that I was the one who was told off for talking over someone. The day before I had been in a mad rush trying to sort out really important paper work and appointments with a resident, but ended up in this surreal situation. It felt like a strange dream.
I keep getting called from the hallway to help the case worker because she cannot open the child locks in the kitchen to make herself a cup of coffee. She finally bothers to walk close enough to talk to me and, instead of seeing I am busy, continues to interrupt. The cupboards have child locks on them that cannot be seen from the outside, and so I told her I was busy but the magnets and the instructions are on the fridge (I made instructions with photographs to help people like me;) ). Instead of going to look for them, she protests that they are not and continues protesting while I try to ignore her. But it’s too hard to concentrate. While I am helping her, the resident receives a phone call and finds out we have to go to different locations to what we thought. So, suddenly we are running late and my carefully planned route through the madness that is this unfamiliar area is rendered useless. I ask the case worker, who is now back at the computer complaining about the milk, if I can quickly look up the location. She whines that she cannot remember how to use the internet on that computer. I show her the internet browser but, instead of her just letting me check the street address and location while she was logged in (and sitting there), I am stopped as soon as she remembers that is how you get on the internet. She says she’ll log out later for me. I just have to hope my mobile phone (as there is no work phone for the support workers) will provide the answers as we go.
It was not a dream. The other women (the residents) found it amusing that there was this adult woman, who was simultaneously in charge and completely helpless, passed her morning calling for me through the hallways and out the back door. I could even hear my name penetrating the front door while I was in the driveway fitting a baby seat. In this job, only once have I had somebody calling my name through the corridors when they could not see me, and it was a child trying to give back a pen (and she even promptly apologised on realising I had been in another room).
I am so grateful I am not as helpless as this woman. Some weeks might I might not make much thesis progress, and there are times when I interrupt my superiors when they are talking to somebody else, but at least I can think about something other than milk for my coffee.
There are lots of things that I can think about, but I suppose my readers might feel a little like we did listening to the case worker crying out about her coffee. The all-too-familiar issues: filtering words; directing attention; and answering the question, ‘Why does this matter now?’


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