Saturday, February 15, 2014

Snow Days, Hotels and Working

As you may already be aware, there was some major winter weather happening in South Carolina and lots of other southeast places this past week.  It made for some exciting situations.  Here's how it went down for me.  If you don't want the play-by-play, just skip to the end to read what I learned through this experience.

Monday:  Threat of winter weather happening on Wednesday early am through Thursday sometime.  Me: Crap.

Tuesday:  Hemmed and hawed about what to do about the impending weather situation since I live 18 miles from my job and was working both Wednesday and Thursday.  I went to get gas so if it took me hours and hours to get somewhere, my gas tank would not be a limiting factor.  My options were

A) Stay at the hospital (free).  Frequently in these type of situations, hospitals will offer for employees to stay in vacant patient rooms, on cots in conference rooms, wherever they can fit people to insure more of their folks show up to work, and do so on time.  I've never taken part in this before because at my last job I lived < 7 miles from work.  I figured if it got really bad, I would walk.  The major downside to this option is the quality of sleep to be had in a hospital, whether as a patient or a staff member, is COMPLETE AND TOTAL CRAP.  At least that's what I've heard from everyone who has ever done it.

B)  Stay at a hotel across the street from the hospital ($$$).  Unfortunately, the hotel across the street is not a Motel 6.  It's a Marriott.  I called to ask if they had any specials going for hospital employees, they said no.  $199/night was the going rate.  Awesome.  Jerks.

C)  Stay with a friend closer to work than where I live.  WINNER WINNER.  I texted two friends (one 3 miles from work, one 6 miles from work).  Jimmie and Cheryl (the 6 mile away friends) said it would be no problem for me to stay with them that night.  Brooke also said it would be no problem, so I asked her if I could make a reservation for her house for night #2 (Wednesday night).  I had not yet had a chance to get together with Jimmie and Cheryl since I moved to Columbia.  Our first sighting of one another was me saying "Heeeeey... can I come stay at your house tonight??" and showing up there three hours later.  Those are good friends.  We can just pick up where we left off years ago!

I packed enough clothes and such for being gone two days and working both of them.  I got to Jimmie and Cheryl's about 8:30pm on Tuesday night.  We stayed up way too late catching up but I loved it.  They are seriously good people.

Wednesday morning:  I left their house about 5:45 am in order to get to work by 6:45 am.  I know I only had 6 miles to go, but I had no idea how the roads were going to be.  I drove between 20-30 mph the whole way.  The ice layer already on the road was noticeable, but passable.  I could hear the sleet/freezing rain tinkling on my windshield as I made my way downtown.  Thankfully there were not many people on the road at that hour.  I ate breakfast in the cafeteria at work and then clocked in to start my day.  According to our manager, our unit was one of very few in the whole hospital that had every scheduled employee show up.  Go team!  Not even 30 minutes after I arrived at work, the precipitation changed to snow.

Wednesday day:  It transitioned throughout the day between snow, sleet, and freezing rain.  We all kept tabs on the conditions outside as we went about our work.  It became clear to me that I probably shouldn't even TRY to make it to Brooke's house (3 miles away) that even after work.  It was dreadful out.  Even with my 4 wheel drive Jeep, I didn't have a lot of confidence I could make it up and down hills on the ice-covered snow.  My amazingly gracious preceptor, Courtney, kindly offered for me to share a hotel room with her and another coworker that evening.  I accepted that offer.  I didn't want to spend the money for a hotel room, but I WANTED TO LIVE, not die in an icy ditch, so hotel it was.

Wednesday evening:  After work, a handful of us made our way from our hospital, across the street and down a block or two to our hotel, the Sheraton.  The Marriott was booked.  It was bitterly cold outside! Walking those couple of blocks was quite a feat.  The ice-crusted snow under our feet was completely and totally treacherous.  I was so glad none of us had to drive in it.  We dropped all of our stuff in our room and then headed back to the Marriott for dinner.  The dining room was packed.  They weren't allowing anyone to order off of the menu but made the buffet the only option.  Apparently a lot of their wait staff and chefs didn't make it to work that day.  Our server had been waiting on people since 6 am and there was no end in sight to her day.  I was suddenly VERY VERY grateful that at least my shift ended.  I got to be off work.  I now know a lot of others were not so fortunate.  After dinner we headed back to the hotel and settled in for the night.  We had lights out by 10 pm.  Such party animals we were. :)

Thursday morning:  Our room starting stirring about 5 am.  The three of us got ready, packed up and headed out for our walk to work.  It was so odd, walking to work.  In the dark.  Down the middle of the downtown street because it was slightly less treacherous than the sidewalk.  A truly bizarre experience.  We grabbed breakfast in the cafeteria before the work day began.  We're pretty sure there were some managers and other not-usually-front-line-people working the registers and dishing up plates.  This was an all-hands-on-deck kind of situation for their department too.  They had call outs.  They were running under-staffed.  They made it work.  We were so grateful they did.  (Our hotel offered free breakfast, but it started at 6:30 am, just a wee bit too late for us to partake.)

Thursday day:  We watched the weather again through the windows of our unit.  It snowed.  It stopped.  It flurried.  It stopped.  Whole snowmen fell from the sky, or so it seemed.  The flakes were SO BIG.  It stopped.  Families of our babies called to say they couldn't get out of their driveways.  We updated them about their babies.  Can you imagine?  Not even being able to get to your loved one in the hospital??

Thursday evening:  The trek home began.  There was some melting that happened during the day.  Some more roads were cleared.  I was hopeful for my trip home.  All I knew was that I WAS GONNA STAY IN MY BED THAT NIGHT.  Come what may, I was going home!!  I called home to let Scott know I was beginning my journey.  I drove 40-45 mph most of the way home.  There were not a lot of people on the road.  Those that were seemed a little more confident about the roads than I did.  They just went around me as I snail-paced it home.  It took me about 40 minutes to get home, but get home I did!!  I hugged Scott and told him that was the worst vacation I'd been on ever. :)  It really wasn't a horrible situation, thanks to the kind people around me, but I most certainly would rather be HOME.  And if I am staying in a hotel, I don't want it to be in between two work days!

I don't think I MOVED in my bed that night.  I slept so soundly!

What did I learn from this whole situation?

1)  Healthcare workers are not the only ones who still have to go to work NO MATTER WHAT.  Before this, I wouldn't have classified food service workers as part of "critical staffing needs", but they very.much.are.  So many of us were completely dependent on those hard workers showing up so we could EAT and make it through our days and nights away from home.  Food service workers in the hospital were absolutely critical.  The food service folks at the hotel we ate at were crucial as well.

2)  Be nice.  Just be nice.  I watched multiple people give our server a hard time at the hotel for dinner.  What's the point of that??  She was doing the best she could.  I tipped her well in hopes of helping make up for the jerk-faces she had to deal with.  Speaking of on.

3)  No seriously, BE NICE.  Five minutes after leaving dinner, where I was shocked at how mean people were to our server, I made a very snarky remark to some gentlemen standing outside of our hotel.  (These were the same gentlemen we had walked into the hotel earlier with when we checked in.  When we came back from dinner, that was the second time we had seen this group.) I made a snarky remark and one of the guys got offended.  Immediately afterward, as I rode up the elevator to the room, I could not believe myself.  I had barely even stopped thinking about the MEAN PEOPLE at dinner before mouthing off to a total stranger myself.  Unbelievable.  Mean people suck.  In that situation, I was a mean people too.  Dangitall.

4)  If you are ever looking for an opportunity to serve others in a bad weather situation and you live close enough to be safe to do so, here are some ideas.  Bring food to firemen, police officers, hospitals, cafeteria workers, housekeeping staff of hotels or hospitals, news reporters, linemen from power companies, etc.  Sure you can't feed the whole hospital or police department, but you could feed a few people and that would make a difference.  Bring bedding, blankets, air mattresses, tooth brushes, toiletries, to the above mentioned folks.  I packed an overnight bag, but forgot a toothbrush.  My manager provided me with one.  If you don't live near any of these places, maybe you live next door to a nurse or doctor or police officer or food service worker.  You could check on their family for them.  Help put their minds at ease about what's going on at home while they are stuck away from home.  My parents came to our house and stayed with Scott and the kids.  That eased my worrying immensely.  Scott could have handled our kids by himself with no problem.  But this way Scott was keeping an eye on my parents and my parents were keeping an eye on the kids and Scott.  I felt confident all was well at home without me. :)

5)  My preceptor Courtney deserves a medal.  I had only known her for four days before she was inviting me to split a room.  She didn't have to do that.  She spent all day, night, and day again with me.  She went above and beyond as a preceptor!!  I told my manager that this was the most THOROUGH orientation I've ever seen!  Mandy, another coworker, also deserves a medal.  She's the one I actually shared a BED with in the hotel!  Mandy, we have a special bond now, you and I.  :)

How was YOUR bad weather experience??  What recommendations would you make to people looking for ways to help?

1 comment:

Melissa jacobs said...

I was adamant I was not staying at the Rex Inn. And I didn't. Stayed with mah mama instead since she lives close. Hehe. Those young resilient things can have that bunking at the hospital stuff.