Lose the bad attitude

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz
If blatant displays of disinterested hostility were an Olympic event, I know a nurse who would have taken the gold — and maybe the silver and bronze as well.

Her performance was breathtaking. She was the Michael Phelps of negativity, the Gabby Douglas of simmering anger, the Serena Williams of apathy, the Misty May-Treanor of icy aloofness.

The first unfortunate encounter happened when I was checking on an elderly friend at a post-acute rehab facility. She was at the nurses' station flipping through a chart, and I had the audacity to approach and begin speaking.
“Good morning,” I said in my affable Canadian way, and she looked up. Eventually.

“How can I help you?” she asked with the warmth of a bag of frozen peas, not even getting through the question before looking back down.

“Just wondering how ‘Don's' night went,” I said.

“It went fine,” she responded, and began writing herself a note that I can guarantee did not say, “Next time that bald guy tries to talk to me when I'm busy, pretend he's a person who actually matters.” So I thanked her for her help and walked away.

That unpleasant interaction was one of several over the next few days. At one point, while Don's wife and I met with the director of nursing to share this and other concerns, the anger in that nurse's eyes almost ignited my tie from across the room, and she actually slammed a binder down on her desk. Amazingly, she still works there.

True, I don't know the back story. I don't know which inadequate systems were making her life miserable, how much she was paid, whether her kids were sick, or if she'd just had an argument.

But I do know that in a profession where litigation from sue-happy opportunists is common, making positive, caring connections with residents and family members isn't optional.

Except maybe at the Bad Attitude Olympics.
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