Blogs by anne cunningham
5/18/2004 10:59:48 AM
... bloggy groggy
Groggy Bloggy: Several years back during my parents’ annual visit home, my father was telling a great story of sleep deprivation which occurred when he was in the service in the late 50s, early 60s. He was also courting my mother at the time, or was already early married, was working on his Design Engineering degree and his stint in the army. His training etc. was in Illinois, as was his schooling, while his family and friends remained in Wisconsin.
To paraphrase: My dad had a particularly long weekend with studying, trips home, etc. a leave of some kind, all of this coming at the end of a very long week. By the time he returned to the base, he hadn’t slept for how long, he did not know. One of the menial jobs he had in wait for him was to wash the jeeps, trucks and other vehicles. It was an easy job, considering the lack of sleep, and he imagined himself washing the jeeps, by rote, a walking sleepy dead man.
Dad said that after each vehicle was washed and otherwise serviced, they were then parked in a lot. Each vehicle also had a series of numbers and/or letters that had to be yellow grease-penciled on the back bumpers, taken from a clipboard, also in his charge. I suppose the serial notations were to delineate the servicing each had just received.
My dad finished this detail, threw the clipboard and yellow grease pencil back in the base garage, wound up the hose, got rid of the buckets, etc. etc. and then headed back to the bunkhouse for some much needed sleep.
A bit later, someone came to get him, telling him he was wanted out in the vehicle yard. He hurriedly dressed and returned to the site of his last detail, where a supervising officer asked what he was trying to prove.
My dad stood perplexed, staring at the supervising officer and also the organized line of sparkling army vehicles. He didn’t know what he had done wrong, and asked the supervising officer what the problem could possibly be.
The officer pointed to the first vehicle bumper, and then gestured his arm to include all the vehicles and bumpers, asking my father, “Cunningham, what is the meaning of this?”
My dad lblinked hard and looked at the long row of glistening vehicles, eyes dropping from one rear bumper to the next, where in shock he realized each held the tell-tale yellow grease pen serial count and clarification of service ... but, he had written them in gibberish and odd symbols.
Each vehicle’s bumper held a yellow grease-pencil code that to this day has not been broken.
I share this story now, because I’ve been thinking of it the last many sleep-deprived days flooded into night, flooded back into days again.
I’ve also been thinking, the store of personal sleep deprivation stories I can own up to (if I could only remember them) as well as the stories from others, could fill a whole book!
I always think these stories offer such great lessons on how far to push yourself, a reminder to “take care of you and get sleep.” However, it ends up that stories like this just serve as a guide to how far you can push yourself before you get fired or suffer a brain infarct.
In my dad’s case, the gibberish on the bumpers was not as bad as if he had pissed away his time and not washed the vehicles at all, or some such other worse case scenario.
Having no proverbial time to “piss away” this last many weeks, this story is near constantly on my mind. My workload, at the major medical center for which I transcribe, has been extremely high lately. On a good day we are high workload. On a bad day, we are workload evil zone.
It has been a series of bad days gone to worse.
I should mention, however, I am not alone out here. There are about 10 other women on my current “team.”
However, no matter what we do, the backlog lurks as hospital census is high right now and, two weekends in a row, our main computer systems took a dive, making it impossible for us to access the reports. We could not transcribe from our end of the vast “machine” that generates our work, but the physicians could dial up and dictate their fool faces off from their end of the vast “machine.”
And dictate they did (and are) with sandwiches in their mouths, yawning through important laboratory data, changing their minds mid sentence, trying to keep their own workloads current and also pulling charts out of forgotten drawers dictating from their secret backlog stashes! The turds!
In the last 72 hours, I have slept little, and produced the amount of quality (I hope) transcription product in 3 days that I would usually produce in a little over a week. I don’t know where I am pulling the brain power from, as my head is the consistency of bread pudding right about now.
My “team” as well has taken a hit, some out with medical leave, some on vacations, etc. We are down to our core group, all working hard to provide the quality service the facility we transcribe for is used to seeing. Our emails to each other, and instant “hang in there” messages have been a riot, in and of themselves. The work, as usual, is beyond interesting and has taken us to the extreme levels of late.
Last night, though, when I finished (which was actually 3 a.m. this morning) I thought of my dad and all those army vehicles. Though I was planning to rise again at 7 a.m. and hit the airwaves again, I expected an angry wake-up call, far earlier than that, with our account supervisor screaming into the phone, “Cunningham, what is the meaning of all of this?”
I’m afraid that every word I transcribed in the last 72 hours might be little more than gibberish in our world of high-tech yellow grease pencils.
Anyways … Take care all. I’ve become the biggest AuthorsDen “stalker,” still taking time to read all of you, but saving back any comments I might have, which at this point would be purely insane rantings. I have left you all with little comment or feedback and owe emails etc. Your continued comments, messages and emails mean the world to me.
I hope to be more fully back in the “loop” very soon. Look for a new poem from me when I reach that point. I think I’ll scrawl it with yellow-grease pencil, using my usual “secret code,” which all of you keep telling me is poetry.
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