Nancy and I – we get it. When you work with or for a man-child, you have to be the mom. Stand your ground. No equivocating. No expectation of reasonable behavior. I work as a CNA for a home-health agency. My introduction into the low-wage world of basic medical care has been eye-opening. Management’s treatment of workers seems like the Wild West. There are no rules of decency, no recognition of employees as humans with basic rights. I frequently think of a Simpsons episode in which Bart takes Santa’s Little Helper to school for show-and-tell. Ms. Crabapple and the class act like they’ve never seen a dog before; they’re so smitten. When the dog sneezes, the teacher says, “Isn’t that cute? He thinks he’s people.” I’m Santa’s Little Helper, except no one is smitten with me. When management calls or emails to tell me I have to work another shift for a verbally abusive client or when they suck up my personal time with inane phone calls because they’re too lacking in language skills to communicate via email, I have to say, “No. I will not tolerate it.” They kick and scream and tell me no one else makes those demands. That’s fine. What are they going to do, fire me? There’s a reason there’s very high turnover in this industry. The pay is similar to fast food, and the work environment is frequently more stressful. I have one client who I like. I took on a second part-time job – not as a CNA. We’ve reached a crisis point with health care. Lots of older people suffering from a lifetime of poor choices (Yes, I’m judging. I also realize poor choices are not the cause of all illnesses.) and, not surprisingly, a workforce that’s not keen on being yelled at like a dog while doing the most humbling tasks and receiving little pay or recognition. A large number – a majority in some parts of the country – of CNAs are immigrants. Who’s going to do these jobs if we keep them out?
Madam Speaker, you are my hero.