Chapter 18 – Fancy Title

One morning in the spring, Dr. Patel [my boss] told me of the possibility that we would be relocated to another psychiatric facility to conduct a major research project, something to do with schizophrenia. My future dropped like a black stage curtain in front of my eyes. I asked if the job would be full-time—I was ready for full-time again—and about salary. He said his would be about $125,000; mine, if my hours could be increased to full-time, would be about $40,000. That was less than I’d made for a nine-month year teaching. I blew, diplomatically, of course: “That is not fair.”

He, always the gentleman, smiled. “I know, Lois. But life is not fair. Think of what a plumber gets paid. And he doesn’t even have a PhD.”

I started looking for another job.

Late spring, Marianna told me of an opening at her VA hospital for a psychiatric nurse educator. I ran over to pick up the application. To teach, to work with nurses, to work in the same place as Marianna again—I was ecstatic. I waltzed through the complex interview process, passed the mandatory pharmacology test, and eagerly awaited the day I could call for my start date. On that day, I called the chief nurse. As the phone rang, I looked out my window and saw the short roadway to the new building where I would be working. I would have my own office, soft blue with modern modular furniture. No old beat up desk. The chief nurse answered, “I don’t know how to tell you. I just got out of a meeting in which my educator position was cut. I’m terribly sorry.”

I called Marianna. Tearing up my resignation letter, I plunged into a blue funk that lasted into the summer.

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