Why Am I Crying (over index cards)?

I got a job at the pharmacy a month ago, and as of so far, it’s great. My coworkers are mostly chill; they haven’t said anything about me singing If Love was a Crime at work, they couldn’t care less that I’m ace (considering that at least 3 more people in my squad are out), and we’re at the point of swapping lunch food as if we’re in elementary school again.

Our one major complaint? The bathrooms at work.

Since the pharmacy (technically the prescription filling plant) only opened a few months ago, there was no cleanup/custodial squad for the first 3 weeks I worked there, so we techs had to clean the bathrooms ourselves. It wouldn’t have been a major issue, had there not been a) a 6:1 ratio of females to males, b) only 4 available stalls per gender, and c) people not cleaning up after themselves.

As there were so many people using the bathroom, the stalls would stink up only two hours after we cleaned them due to unspecified coworkers not flushing, leaving residue on the seats, etc. One stall was so bad that it required its own can of air freshener and a note reminding people to flush/check the seat for residue.  It got to the point that for the drug name portion of our tech exam, we remembered the drug Lasix/furosemide (a diuretic to lower blood pressure) as: You will be furious when you see that someone peed on the toilet seat that you just cleaned 20 minutes ago. And with every incident in the bathroom, we were furious.

The higher ups weren’t doing anything, so I decided to take things into my own hands, making PSAs out of index cards and sticking double-sided tape on the back. I finally had a chance to put my chronic doodling to good use, so they were going to look nice as well as be informative and useful. My coworkers approved of the plan and were as excited as I was to tape up the PSAs and brighten the bathroom stalls the next day after seeing the cards.

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A day later a coworker tells me that Pharmacist and Front Desk HR took down the signs. I ran into the bathroom and saw the original blank stalls, but no sign of the PSAs in any of the trash cans. The regional pharmacy director is visiting today, I thought, maybe they just took them down for her. And I don’t see any index cards in the trash; maybe they still have them. Maybe they’ll put them back when Pharm Director leaves…

Once Regional Pharm Director left (after a pep talk reminiscent of the “welcome to the company; now please give your 200% while you’re at work” introduction video on Day One), I asked Front Desk HR about the PSAs. She confirmed that she took down the signs because Pharm Director was visiting and PD didn’t like the signs (or any signs/flyers/handouts that weren’t from the company). That was okay. But by any chance, do you still have them?

“I threw them out.”

“You threw them out.” I repeated what HR said, reaching for one glimpse of hope that it wasn’t true.

“I threw them out,” HR snapped impatiently. “You can’t have signs in there.”

I left HR’s desk (now surrounded by Pharmacist, Manager, and Plant Director) with a straight face, hearing Pharmacist complain to HR, “Does [Pharm Director] even like anything?” I kept that face on the outside, but was shaking on the inside, sympathetics over-firing, trying not to break down/cry/look like a moron for unknowingly breaking the pharmacy’s rules, trying to remain calm and remember that I just passed my pharm tech license exam. It should have been a happy day from seeing that 93% on the screen, being publicly embarrassed congratulated by Pharm Director, and not having to worry anymore about the exam, but I couldn’t focus on anything except the 5 trashed index cards. I put work into them, I thought, do they know how bad the bathroom situation is?

Rational side started talking inside as well. But they were against the rules. And to tell the truth you just wanted to show off your doodles to your coworkers and feel warm and fuzzy for that. Shouldn’t you be celebrating your tech license exam instead? It’s just 5 index cards with simple doodles of cartoon characters. You still have 3 in your locker—and one of them is the Poli Genova one too! And you took a picture of all of them first! Seriously, it’s just 5 index cards; why are you crying?

I totally understood that it was an irrational thought, that it was just 5 index cards with marker doodles next to the “Please wipe residues off the seat” reminder written in blue Sharpie that were completely replaceable. I totally understand that like Estonia scoring dead last in the semi, it shouldn’t throw me off for the next 5 hours. In a perfect world, I would have just smiled and walked away, but instead my sympathetics started firing because another part of me was upset about artwork getting thrown out. I know I’m not thinking straight about the cards, but I just want them back. And if I ever decide to put them on the bathroom stalls again, they’ll be super glued on all four edges and backed with duct tape so HR and Pharmacist can’t take them down again.

EDIT: The day after I finished writing the section above, one of my coworkers handed me three familiar-looking, double-sided-taped-together cards dug out of the trash.

“[Manager] was looking for you, heard you wanted these back.”

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I’m still not convinced that I left work today without crying. But they’re back and that’s all that matters.

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