Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

What it Means to Radiate Pure Awesome

A close family member is a nurse at a long-term public health care facility. Before the pandemic hit, he was near burnout due to staff shortages and unrealistic workload. Requests for extra help, of course, fell on deaf ears.

In March, he managed to find the wherewithal to meet the extra expectations when lockdowns hit and the staff situation grew even worse. When his coworkers talked of leaving, or taking time off, he urged them to be courageous, do the work that was expected of them.

To suit up, show up, and do the job.

That was his mantra and it got him through the summer. But not unscathed. He crashed. He went on medically sanctioned leave.

Then, feeling refreshed and optimistic, he returned to work. At this point, the second wave had arrived.

His optimism lasted one day. Maybe two.

He’s still at work, coping as best as he can. He takes sick days, but since his allotment of paid time off has been used up, it’s costing him. In more ways than financial.

And yes, he has an appointment to see his doctor.

Now I want you to imagine that you are this nurse, barely holding onto your mental and physical health because of work-related stress, and you are reading a Christmas greeting from the top administrator of the regional public health unit.

This is the same public health unit that hired additional staff to help early in the week, and then withdrew that help, citing fiscal restraint. When asked why the about face, they acknowledged the extreme workload, and the fact that it is getting worse. However, they have no money for extra staff. They hope things will improve in 2022.


Back to the card.

Corporate Greeting Card to Nursing Staff

Corporate Greeting Card to Nursing Staff

The text is white on a festive black background. Seasonally appropriate lettering runs up the side and says, THANK YOU FOR ALL THAT YOU DO!

The message reads:

This past year, we came together like never before to overcome a challenge like none other. We were there for each other through thick and thin, building each other up through encouragement and empathy. We kept on providing the services our residents rely on.

We made real sacrifices to fight this virus and protect our community. We showed what Regional staff are made of, and proven why our work is so important.

That’s what it means to radiate pure awesome.

Thank you for all that you’ve done, and continue to do for our community.

Best wishes to you and your loved ones for a safe and happy holiday season.

Well, wasn’t that nice? That oughta be more than enough encouragement to bolster a flagging spirit, doncha think? To be fed a line of BS and to be told that you radiate pure awesome?

The card and the sentiment behind it is seasonally appropriate, but the message is unbelievably tone deaf.

I am furious, but it’s the impotent kind of anger.

Then I think, well, wait a sec, remember that saying? “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

Not my circus, not my monekys

Nie mój cyrk, nie moje malpy Translation from the Polish: not my problem source

If there was ever a more effective code to live by, I cannot think of it. The saying is a great road map to navigating around the pitfalls of other people’s problems.

But what happens when someone IS your monkey? And he’s in a circus of nightmarish proportions. And you STILL find that the three-ring shitshow is beyond your realm of influence?

You blog.

Post Script January 6, 2021

The CEO of Ontario’s St. Joseph’s Health System and Niagara Health vacationed in the Caribbean over the holidays despite government advisories to stay home as the number of COVID-19 cases soared across the province.

Dr. Tom Stewart, who sat on a number of health advisory boards, including a COVID-19 panel that advises Premier Doug Ford, resigned from those groups Tuesday after news of his trip to the Dominican Republic was made public.

The COVID-19 advisory panel Stewart sat on consists of scientific experts and health leaders who evaluate and report on emerging evidence relevant to the pandemic, to inform Ontario’s response.

In a statement, Stewart apologized for taking the trip.

“I regret this non-essential travel and I’m sorry,” Stewart’s statement said. “Everyone should be avoiding non-essential travel now, including me.”

Guess who’s radiating pure awesome now?

PPS January 7, 2021 – he was fired.

Categories: In Other News, Relationships

Tags: , ,

48 replies

  1. If I had received a card like that under those circumstances, I would have been tempted to wrap it around a brick and throw it through the sender’s window (if not at the sender him/herself. I’m so happy that “we” did so much with so little.

    Liked by 2 people

    • If I was with you when you received that card, I’d ask, “Are there more bricks?”

      When I transcribed the text for this post, I was muttering and rebuttal-ing after every single phrase in that damn card. So much is wrong with this scenario. So damn much.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear infuriated Maggie, I hear you loud and clear. There’s nothing quite like corporate double-speak. Large staffs with head honchos who represent The Peter Principle and who treat whatever is their version of ‘Human Resources’ – with HR’s known commitment to celebrating every useless whingeing bastard and crapping on everyone of merit – as deus ex machina will do this kind of thing forever.
    Forget the fucking creeps ! – concentrate your energies on your c.f.m, with all your love.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Having been in this situation (corporate disregard) I can state clearly that they have no clue, nor any concern as long as the money keeps rolling in for the them. Not to make light in any way, but yay for your family member to actually have received a card. We got an incredibly non-festive email.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It must be trying times for everyone – last year, staff received a cheesy dollar store candy bar for Christmas bonus. This year, all they got was this card.

      UGH and ARGH to the lot of them, says I!
      This comment has been carefully sanitized for family audiences.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, how nice that he took the time to look down upon his minions and the thought just popped into his little pea brain: a card will do the trick! What a total jerk. I am so sorry for your family member and all the front line workers who try to hold it together and carry on. Some of them are interviewed on the news and they just break down when talking about their patients. They talk about their patients–not themselves. That administrator needs to get on the front line and see what ‘pure awesome’ really is. And it ain’t no dumbass little card!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s exactly what drives this fellow to stay at work – the fact that the residents count on him, that they are his extended family, that they cry for him when he’s gone and they cry with joy when he returns. Now, especially with COVID, he is one of the handful of people that they interact with during the day.

      It breaks my heart.


  5. We think we should be at least be taken out to dinner before we are fucked over. Happy Holidays!😐

    Liked by 1 person

  6. And to rub salt in the wounds, the corporate big wigs are probably getting handsome salaries and bonuses.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so sorry! Thanks do ring hollow when real help isn’t offered. It’s horrible that they told the staff there would be more people to help them and then withdrew that offer, that’s worse than no help at all. And it seems to me that there would be some other area to cut that would allow them to hire some much-needed help! I’m sure they got money from the government…but in our area, we spent millions on a temporary morgue which was never used, rather than using that money on additional staffing. It makes no sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The sick irony of the short-lived additional help – it was only four additional hours of staff time that was needed to make the job feel manageable – and to make it feel like management was listening and responding appropriately. Then, as if it was all a fantasy, poof the help disappeared.

      It’s just cruel.

      “…spent millions on a temporary morgue which was never used, rather than using that money on additional staffing.”

      My head is spinning after reading that!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The administrator is lucky all you do is blog. That’s awful. 2022?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. As always, someone’s bank account took priority over the well being of many. ☹️

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Didn’t the Ford government just allocate a whole whack of money to long-term care in Ontario? But let me guess. This is probably a privately owned long-term care facility. Did you know that a former premier of Ontario oh whose name escapes me now, the author of the common sense revolution, what was that bastard’s name, Is a senior director and lobbyist on behalf of Chartwell, the largest privately owned chain of long-term care facilities? I have so much more to say on the subject Maggie like how staff in these places are often, like your relative, made to feel guilty for not being able to continue doing their jobs without adequate financial or actual resources like protective equipment to do their jobs. they are alternately blamed By management for not showing up when they don’t feel safe, blamed by families for not doing the job. And then we wonder why they burn out? There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to get this right and I think long-term care should be publicly funded. Get the greedy money driven privately owned fuckers out of long-term care forever and give the workers what they need to get their jobs done. The conditions of work are the conditions of care.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s that use of ‘we’, isn’t it? I’d be furious if it was me.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Holy cow, what gall! The caregivers where my mom lives really do radiate awesome, but saying so is hardly the thanks they need or deserve. I wish I knew how to help. Sending a box of chocolates (like I did last year) seems trifling. Maybe your relative could offer suggestions?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. From the title, I was all geared up for some total awesomeness to trickle down. It is a shame that such an uplifting message did not come with some concrete supports to alleviate the stress on the staff. I wonder how much they spent in the marketing department coming up with the panacea holiday greeting? And while I still like the phrase ‘radiating pure awesome’ it seems cheapened by its use as a bandage when the medically stressed limb needs a tourniquet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, sorry for the discord, there. As I typed out the message in the card, I knew I had to use that as my title.

      We had the same thoughts about the funds that were spent on this corporate “good will.”

      I think the card was designed in some graphics template that when combined with an HR database, spit out “personalized” greetings – you know, addressed to the employee’s first name and closing salutations were written in a bold flourish. One, that upon first reading, looked to say “Money talks” instead of “Many thanks.”

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Good lord, my jaw remained dropped at 2022 time frame about hiring, and that was before I got to the letter sent to staff. Instead of platitudes they should offer concrete hope, such as a look into their thinking about adding additional resources to an overworked and beleaguered workforce. I’m so sorry for your family member. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Marty.

      As much as I am grateful for free public health care, I simply cannot support the situation we have here in our province. Regrettably, the premier is a character not unlike your (finally!) outgoing commander in chief. It is grim.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. It’s a tragedy that well-meaning responsible people who are determined to do their best and make a positive difference in the world are too often taken advantage of by institutions and people who run those institutions who , I think , see those qualities as easily taken advantage of — and so they do .

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I don’t know why, but I didn’t get notification of your post until just now. Along with a whole pile of other emails dated from last week (!!!!!). Gmail is full of 2020 gremlins right now, I fear…other email weirdness is happening too.
    Anywhoodle…now I “get” the full extent of your comment on my blog! This absolutely sucks. I used to work in a hospital for many years, when I was a teenager and as a university student – the administration there had a very inflated opinion of itself and walked the corridors like the sun shone out of their behinds. And the rest of us were supposed to bow and scrape before them. And I just read that at a hospital in the US (Stanford, I think) the administration decided to give themselves the Covid vaccine BEFORE the front-line hospital workers. If this is true, it just confirms to me that my observations at our local hospital were indicative of a systemic issue.
    Rant on, sister. Rant on.


    Liked by 1 person

  17. What’s being asked of medical people is unforgivable, and the lack of support is positively criminal. Not that you need to hear that from me, but–well, I guess it can’t be said often enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I was just talking to Deb and she gave me the heads-up about this post. Nope – I still haven’t received any notification that you’d posted – a week ago!!! But here I am now.

    I’m reading this post on a day when I don’t feel like I have anything left to give. There are days I cry, days I rant, and then days like today when it’s just a heavy numbness.

    This card’s holiday message was insensitive and insulting. Gestures of real appreciation are meaningful to the recipient. Without real meaningful appreciation, these are just empty words … a form letter that spews the same old blah-blah-blah rhetoric? I’d be tempted to post it on the company bulletin board with a note saying ‘this is completely useless, even as toilet paper’.

    I am so, so sorry for your family member. He is in a no-win situation. No one seems to care that an entire generation is getting killed off by a virus, and the worst part is that it’s completely preventable. Why don’t they care? … because old people are going to die anyway 😡

    Shame on past governments for allowing this situation to happen. Shame on the current government for failing to deliver on its promise to the long term care homes back in April. Shame on all those people who whine and complain about their ‘rights’ while continuing to congregate and spread the virus. There is plenty of shame to go around.

    Back in April I genuinely believed that this pandemic would finally cause mankind to become kinder, nobler, and caring of the common good. Don’t I feel like a fool now? 😢

    … ok, maybe I’m just a little bit rant-y today after all …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, Joanne… of course I saw your comment yesterday. But I couldn’t find words. This happens to me often, but if I give it 24 hours, I usually come up with a worthy response.

      In terms of my feeling about public response to the pandemic, words like “jaw-dropping” and “despair” and “stunned disbelief” come to mind.

      Regarding your “heavy numbness”… I want to offer solutions, encouragement, I want to offer hugs – but we know that’s impossible.

      I still got nothing.

      Except: I’m so glad to hear from you and I thank you for your eloquent rant.


  19. I hear you on the anger. It’s very tone deaf. I’ve also been very angry about events at my mothers senior community involving Covid. I don’t know why we can’t do a better job.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Although we continue to express our thanks to those on the medical front line, the average person will never truly understand the sacrifice these dedicated people have made. Unless you have one in your family or friend circle and truly see what is going on, it borders on lip service. A friend has a daughter and three granddaughters who are all surgical or radiology nurses near here. When this first started, and they were all laid off indefinitely it was almost unbelievable. I applaud each and every one of these committed medical professionals, and I can’t imagine what the numbers would be without them.

    Liked by 1 person

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