Monday, July 21, 2008

Mean Is A Four Letter Word

Sometimes, you just have to trust your gut. Last night, after work, I was sitting at Flatface's desk trying to decide if I was going to print some tray tickets for tomorrow. A piece of paper in a cubby on the desk caught my eye because it had Marie's name on it. I pulled the stack of papers out to check out what it was. It turned out to be something she had written to verify another employee's account of an incident that had occurred several months ago. I wondered why it hadn't been filed away after this long, even though our boss is famous for his loose ends. So I started thumbing through the stack to see what else might be in it with someone else's name that I might recognize. Like I said, trust your gut. This cubby is where Flatface keeps some plain copy paper and some colored paper for his menus. So anything else there just seemed out of place. Well low and behold, right beneath Marie's incident report, were several more sheets of paper stapled together and upside down. I'm posting a copy of the top sheet here. Click on the image to enlarge it and notice a few important things. First, it is dated 7-10-08. That is twelve days ago. My supervisor has yet to show it to me even though, as you will remember from my previous post, we had a meeting on the fourteenth of July. Secondly, I was supposedly given a verbal for not punching out for lunch, which has never occurred. Also notice the absence of signatures of both the Executive Director and my Supervisor, not to mention myself and a witness. Perhaps the most telling of all, is this written disciplinary action was Cc'd to my personnel file without said signatures or my knowledge. The discrepancies between her version of the incident and mine tell the whole tale. Hence the little diddy by John Prine.

Since the tea party on the fourteenth, Flatface has been to Hawaii for five days and is currently sunning himself on the beach down in Costa Rica. It will be very interesting to see how he handles this matter when he gets back sometime this week. He obviously didn't want this little distraction to interfere with his travel plans. Thanks Y'all for your support and I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Please Read The Letter

A week ago yesterday, on July 10, I wrote a letter to the Executive Director of the skilled nursing facility where I work asking that he look into the matter of unpaid overtime I believe is owed me. I cc.'d the letter to my supervisor and the manager of the Human Resources Department. On the following Monday, upon my arrival at work, I was ushered into the director's office for a little chit-chat with my boss, the HRM and the Director of Nursing. Apparently, the ED was no longer in the building (that is another story altogether), so the DON sat in for him. What transpired was like a bad movie starring Nurse Ratchet on crack, Cruela DeVille and Joe Pesci's flat faced body double. Here is a copy of the letter, followed by a chronology of events, including and since that little beat down of Mike's ignorant ass.

To: James Gann, Executive Director-Evergreen Mountainview Healthcare

Mr. Gann,
On the morning of July 10, 2008, after receiving my check, I went to the human resources office to inquire as to why I had not been paid the overtime I was due. Since this was not the first time the hours I had worked had exceeded eighty hours in the pay period and I had not been paid the overtime, I felt an explanation was in order. Upon my request, the Human Resource Manager, Barbara LaSur, asked me if she had not explained that to me before. I told her yes, but not to my satisfaction since most of the other employees in Dietary had received overtime pay for all hours over eighty in the same pay period, not to mention many previous pay periods. She then said that I was hired as a cook at a cook’s wage and that I was not a cook. I responded that I was hired at that job description and at that rate. At this point, I described the situation as “bull shit”. She then handed me a slip of paper and told me to call corporate and they would explain it to me. I responded that I would just call the Labor Board instead and have them explain it to me, and she told me to go right ahead. At that point I left her office. On my way out the door Ms. LaSur asked me why I didn’t just quit my job. I asked her in turn why she didn’t quit her job and she responded that she had been there too long. I told her everyone has a problem.
I have expressed my dissatisfaction with this ongoing situation to my supervisor, Joe Bill, on several occasions. His response has always been that he would take care of the situation. That has yet to occur. Almost two months ago, I agreed to cut back the number of days I worked from five to four because of a decline in the census. Since that time, I have been asked to work an extra day almost every week. If that has resulted in some overtime hours, it is not my fault. I have always complied with my supervisor’s requests to work any required shift and have been diligent in the exercise of my job duties. I do not feel I deserve to be treated in this manner.
I ask that you look into this matter and if necessary, review my payroll records to insure that I receive all back overtime payment that is due me. I appreciate your prompt consideration in this matter.

Michael I. Swall
Dietary Aide/Cook
Dietary Department-Evergreen Mountainview Healthcare

Cc: Joe Bill

Cc: Barbara LaSur

Now, back to the beat down. Cruela showed me some time sheets dating back to April that I had never seen before broken down by weeks from Friday through Thursday and tried to tell me I got copies of them in my pay envelope every payday. When I argued that I had never seen these before and asked her to make me copies back to the day I started she said she didn't have time for that. After twenty minutes of being told I was too fucking stupid to understand their explanation of the difference between a "work week" and a "pay period", I asked my betters if they had read my letter and that I understood their b.s. but didn't buy the legitimacy or legality of their explanation. At this point, exasperated and fresh out of spew, they told me I'd better just go to the Labor Board and let them explain it. Hey, now we were getting somewhere. It turned out to be a productive meeting after all. An invitation to go to the state was more than I could have hoped for. This meant they couldn't really get pissy with me for doing something I was planning to do anyway. At this point, the pow-wow ended abruptly. They gave me the distinct impression I had wasted enough of their precious time.
Well, it took me all week but I finally got around to going to the Labor Board yesterday. I learned quite a lot in a short time while talking to the nice people at the State. I learned that there is a difference between a "right to work" state and an "at will" state. Right to work means employees reserve the right to choose to be union or non union and cannot be forced to be one or the other. "At will" means both the employee and the employer may terminate the working relationship at any time without notice or reason. Two entirely different things.
Another thing I learned is that employers in Nevada have the right to differentiate between "work weeks" and pay periods. This is a loophole that allows employers to avoid paying overtime in many instances and is a dicey issue that should be addressed by the state legislature, in my opinion. It means I will probably not be remunerated for the hours I thought were overtime.
An issue that I raised with the Labor people that I did not bring up with management was the company practice of deducting thirty minutes a day for breaks that are not taken or are worked through. Many of us at the facility regularly work through our lunch breaks or do not punch out on the time clock at all because we are constantly short handed and have too much to do. This is a practice that management has looked the other way at and, in fact, quietly condoned. Why not? They get the best of both worlds-the work gets done and they steal thirty minutes a day out of everyone's paycheck. The folks at Labor, on the other hand, furrowed their brows and wrinkled their noses and said this was not good. When I told them I did not clock out for lunch, with the complete knowledge of management, for the better part of seven months dating back to September of 2007, they asked to see my complete time records for that period. We may have something here. And something else. One of the cooks filed and anonymous complaint a few weeks ago about working through his breaks. The nice lady at the Labor Board told me that if she got a total of five complaints, even anonymous ones, it would generate an audit of all the company's facilities, state wide. That I could provide for her, standing on my head. She gave five complaint forms and I assured her I would be back.
Oh boy! Now I've got to go back and ask Cruela for copies she didn't have time to make for me. She and Nurse Crackhead and Flatface are not going to be happy with me when this all plays out. I may just want to start getting serious about finding another job, (see definition of "at will").

Monday, July 14, 2008

Remembering the Dream

Tuesday, the Yankees will host the last major league all-star game ever to be played in Yankee Stadium. When the season ends, the wrecking ball will come crashing down on the House That Ruth Built. Gone forever, the hollowed ground that Yankee fans everywhere have revered for 85 years. Somewhere beneath the rubble will be my childhood dream of ever seeing first hand that storied place. Lost will be my chance to see, to hear, to smell the place that to me is baseball. It was baseball before color TV, before instant replay, before spandex and maple bats. It was baseball when guys named Dizzy and Pee Wee called the games on Saturday mornings. It was baseball before asterisks in the record books, labor strikes, agents and collective bargaining. It was just baseball.
Now, when they move Monument Park to a new center field across the street, it will be more like business as usual. The names on the monuments, Huggins, Gehrig, Ruth, DiMaggio and Mantle, will be the same. But somehow, the game will never be the same. I think what I will miss, more than the opportunity to visit that historic field, is the game as I knew it. It was a game that little kids played in dirt fields on hot summer days while they pretended to be big kids named Mickey, Whitey and Yogi.
I'll live through this disappointment as I have others because I'm not one to dwell on the negative. I have my memories, Mantle's blast hitting the right field facade, Dizzy and Yogi mangling the English language, Maris hitting 61. They will have to keep me, such as they are.
And I really can't complain. I got to see the Yankees play once. It was 1966, the first year the Angels were playing in their new stadium, The Big A, down in Anaheim. Out of the blue Pop asked if I wanted to go to a ball game. What fourteen year old boy would pass that up? Not this one. What a day. Before the game we went down behind home plate to watch the Yanks take batting practice. Pop took a bunch of pictures and I just watched in numb amazement. They were all there-Mantle, Maris, Yogi, Whitey, Richardson, Kubek, Pepitone, Boyer, in their pinstripes, bigger than life. I don't even remember who won the game. I didn't care.
I'll never forget that day. It was the best day of my life till then. I had loved those guys since I was old enough to know what baseball was. And there they were-right in front of me. I don't think I ever thanked my dad enough for taking me to that game. I know he knew how much it meant to me but I never told him. I wish he were here now so I could just hug him and tell him thanks for giving me something I will never forget. Mom found some of those pictures a few years ago, a half dozen or so Pop took from where we sat down the left field line, but none of the ones from behind home plate. It's OK though. I've still got them, in my heart.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


We may be well acquainted with the idea that we receive in life in direct relation to what we give to life. However, when it comes to the grace of God, there is nothing we must give to receive it. Grace is a gift from God that is absolute and without qualification.
Because this is so, I choose to live my life based upon the foundation of God's grace. I do this by pausing to realize that God's presence is in and all around me as life, love, and wholeness.
I understand that people, conditions, the weather, and even the land are continually changing. The one thing that never changes is the presence of God in it all and the grace of God blessing all. I give thanks this day and every day for the grace of God, the foundation upon which I can and do build my life.-Daily Word
"I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus." -1 Corinthians 1:4

Rest Assured


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Teach Your Children Well

I love my children more than I can ever say. They have always been the sources of my greatest pride and purpose. I honestly have very little to show for my life were it not for them. I have always thought that the one thing I have done right throughout the years was to teach them well the basic lessons of life. Now, as I watch their lives unravel, I realize I have been kidding myself all these years. What I actually taught them was worse than nothing. I know now that "what you see is what you get", bears more fruit than "read my lips". What they learned growing up, both consciously and by rote, has now manifested in their adult lives. When I said truth, they saw lies. When I said trust, they viewed deceit. When I said faithfulness, they witnessed infidelity. Forget concepts like integrity, devotion, commitment. Those are just words they heard. What they saw was self indulgence, narcissism and piety. The choices I made became the lessons they learned. Unfortunately for them, they never learned the lesson of consequence. I took it for granted that they could see that too. I assumed they could see all the pain I caused. I was wrong again.
I don't talk to my kids much lately. Their lives have taken a direction that has my guts twisted in a knot. Besides, anything I want to say to them wouldn't make them very happy. Nothing I could say would change what they think or undo the choices they have made. I don't think they want to hear how much I love their spouses and their children. Or how proud I have been of how hard they have worked and what they have made of their lives. I don't think they want to know how much my heart aches or how easily I cry these days. So I guess I'll just keep praying for them and hope God will show them his grace. I still love my children more than I can ever say.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Getting Started

I have been procrastinating about starting a blog of my own for several years now. To tell you the truth, I have been intimidated by all of the really great blogs that already exist and have wondered what the hell I could add to the blogosphere that would be of any significance to anyone. But it has finally sunk in to my feeble brain that it isn't about anyone else-it's about me. So now it is just a matter of getting started. Whoa, now. That poses a whole new dilemma. Where the hell do I start.
How about the title of my blog-irvmarmik? My father's name was Irving, but everyone I know except my aunt Marge called him Irv. Well, I take that back. When Mom, brought into the world as Margaret, got good and pissed at him, she would call him Irving. While aunt Margie's tone was rather endearing, Mom's was somewhat bone-chilling. It's sort of like stretching a guitar string until it snaps. But back to the point. In Pop's later years, he often expressed a great interest in getting on the Internet. I think he really saw what a valuable resource it could be. But he just didn't live long enough to manifest that desire. Mom, on the other hand, couldn't care less about surfing the web and to this day resists all prodding to indulge it. Total opposites, those two.
Now, to digress for a moment. When I was born, I guess they didn't exactly want a Jr. tagged onto my name so I became Michael Irving. Most of my early years, I was called Mike by friends and family alike until junior high school when most of my close friends, after learning my middle name, started calling me Irv. So I have answered to both names for many years now.
Back in the mid nineties, when my wife Marie and I needed an e-mail address that wouldn't divulge our true identities, the combination of names became an obvious solution. So, irvmarmik has been our Internet handle eversince.
Whew! Now, that was a mouthful.