Posts Tagged ‘sister’

Roadtrip 4: Pittsburgh to New York

November 22, 2010

I drove rather fast down the Pike

It’s not a pace that I like

     But fixing the mirror

     Made it two hours dearer

Still a six hour hike.

After a night on Burdette’s couch in Pittsburgh, we chatted while she got ready for the job she calls a dead-end.  She made herself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 

Her mother, Nancy, bathed us together when we were toddlers, and made my mother laugh when they lived close together.  Her father, Pierce, had a great sense of humor and a wonderful intellect.  When I grew up I re-established contact between the families.  I had great fun with the lot of them.

I didn’t see the dysfunction, the alcoholism and bipolarity. 

After I finished college I lost contact with them, and the tragic deaths struck one after another without my knowledge.

My missing left mirror and the narrow, crowded alley complicated backing out; Burdette had to direct me.

I drove winding streets in neighborhoods screaming for paint and re-roofing, narrow blue-collar houses rubbing shoulders against a backdrop of spectacular geology.

The brunt of traffic bypasses streets with nicer homes.  Burdette grew up in a fine old house; it brought me comfort and shelter in my college years when I hitchhiked from Connecticut to Colorado. 

At the dealership I struck up a conversation with the young woman at the service counter when she observed how happy I seemed.  I gave her my card and told her to check my blog.

Two hours later, my mirror replaced, I checked out.  In the waiting area, in front of an audience, the young woman showed me a rash she’d had for a while, getting worse despite use high-powered meds.

Raised, flaking borders on flat, rounded lesions about the side of a nickel: skin fungus (ringworm) most likely, after that nummular eczema, other diagnoses possible.

It doesn’t take 27 years of formal education to figure out that if something doesn’t work you need to try something else.

I would have told her to get TSH and Vitamin D levels checked, try over the counter Cortaid and/or Eucerin, or even consider using an OTC antifungal like Lotrimin, but that would have constituted practicing medicine without a license in Pennsylvania. 

Still I enjoyed the time I spent talking to her.

When I plugged the address for my dinner date into my GPS, I realized I miscalculated my time frame.  I called my brother.  What time did we expect to meet for our sister’s birthday?  If I hurried, if there were no traffic, I’d barely make it in time. 

So for the first time in months I rushed. 

Digestive problems forced a stop after five hours, and I reexamined my motivation to be punctual.  I searched for loperamide and decided that I just wouldn’t arrive in time.  I called my brother and apologized.

Slowing down had relieved my gut problems and food intolerances, rushing brought them back.

As I inched through the glacial Holland Tunnel congestion, glad that I’d had the sense to quit hurrying an hour before, I wished I’d done so hours before that. 

I arrived a half-hour after my brother and sister and their mates, but dinner continued for two hours, one dish at a time, talking between courses.  All of us have passion for our work and love our jobs.  I gave my thoughts on Obamacare.

We reviewed the meal over sorbet and agreed that the star had been a seared black rock fish.

As we left the upscale Japanese restaurant I thought about my morning.  

Contrast is the essence of meaning.

Why is a free-lance artist like a locum tenens doctor?

October 18, 2010

The worst ones will lie and they’ll steal

I said to my bro at a meal

    But the great ones are pros    

   And bargain well I suppose

And everyone wins in the deal.

In the east for my wife’s family gathering, I called in New York on one my brothers and one of my sisters.

There are seven of us, we span 35 years and both coasts.  We are all intelligent and dyslexic with way  off-the-beaten-track senses of humor.  The other six (not me) possess great artistic talent.

You’ve seen my brother’s artwork in It’s a Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc, and Cars.  Currently he’s doing story boarding and working on his MFA in painting.

I talked to my brother about dealing with the locum tenens agencies (there are more than eighty; I’ve personally talked with about twenty-five), observing that the three parameters of professionalism, honesty, and flakiness shake out to a bell-shaped distribution.

“Listen,” he said, “Take it from me, and remember I’ve been free-lancing for decades, don’t deal with agencies, go directly to the employer.”

My brother should know; he sent out mailings of his portfolio on a regular basis for quite a while, and has first hand experience dealing with a dishonest agent.

I said, “I tried.  I called and mailed twenty health-care sites in central Nebraska and didn’t get a single call back.”

“Oh…Well they probably just want to deal with agencies,” he said.  “Then what you need to do is just deal with the best agencies.”

“That’s a great idea.” I said, “As part of this experience I wanted to deal with some good recruiters and some bad.  But if I was going to be doing this for very long I already know which agencies, there are two of them, that I’d go with.  The rest aren’t worth it.”

“How do you mean?”

“I’ve said yes to fifteen jobs so far and three have come through.  Sometimes it was poor communication, but I expect good communication from a recruiter, after all, that’s they do.  Sometimes they just out-and-out barefaced lied when they tried to do a bait-and-switch.”

He shuddered.

“And there’s this one recruiter,” I went on, “over the phone she sounds breathless and blond but she is a pro, an absolute professional.”  One of his eyebrows went up.  “Right after I agreed to a placement she had me specify six parameters for reimbursement…”  Both eyebrows went up.  “She wanted to know,” I explained, “How much I wanted for straight time, overtime, carrying a beeper, getting called, getting called in, and holidays.  Well, I had never thought of those things because no recruiter had ever asked me.”

“No?” my brother asked.

“Not one.  And I suspect that she’s a top-notch negotiator because she can get people to underestimate her.  She just got me a better deal than I asked for, and I’m pretty sure the folks she talked with would work with her again.  And that’s the mark of a good agent, getting the best deal for both parties.”