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April 29, 2009

Hanging Out In Tucson

We are rapidly approaching our one year anniversary for traveling. We started at the Y up in Connecticut last May, and have been continuously traveling since then, although our time here in Tucson seems to contradict that.

Officially I am in my fourth contract now. There wasn't a distinguishable moment as there has been in the past between this contract and the last. My last day of the previous contract was the 25th of April, so I'm actually even done now with a full week of this contract since I'm "working" right now. It's strange knowing that we are officially in a different contract without having to change hospitals and units. I've been here for fourteen weeks now and feel almost like staff.

I have to say, I've enjoyed my time as a seasonal worker here in Tucson. I like the unit here a lot, and the people are very easy to get along with. Since I've now been here for more than three months, I actually know a lot of them by name and have gotten to know a little about them. It really does make me feel like staff, to have a relationship with my coworkers, rather than a passing knowledge of their name and perhaps a little bit about their work ethic. Don't get me wrong, though, I still steer clear of the politics and that sort of thing that hospitals are rife with. Even after spending half a year here, I don't need that.

I've even spent a little time outside of work with some of my coworkers, as well as Jess's. She is more social, of course, so she actually has befriended several coworkers with whom she spends some time with. My traveler friend Scott here, who also signed another contract through the summer, lives about four doors down, so often I hang out with him, although we went to a little bar near the hospital the other day with some other coworkers. Technically those coworkers were seasonal staff who'd converted from travelers, as travelers don't have job opportunities in this town (or country) much any more. So, they weren't necessarily core staff, although we all work directly for the hospital itself now.

Speaking of little bars open at 8 in the morning, there are two that we know of. Scott and I usually go to one called Bambi, as it's on the way back across town towards our apartment. (By usually, I'm not saying this is a frequent event, usually only if we happen to carpool on the last day of a long stretch and need to celebrate). The Bambi is a darkly lit place, with crusty, slightly pervish old guys who come in every morning to drink their breakfast. The staff is friendly, though, those old guys tell dirty jokes, and they make good Bloody Marys there, so we've grown to appreciate the place. The other joint, which is called The Buffet and Crockpot (because they have a single old crockpot from which they serve cheap hot dogs in the morning), is a more brightly lit facility and upon first glance perhaps a bit more clean, which is to say not a nasty of a dive as the Bambi. However, from our one experience there, I would say that there are more characters in that place than I would have expected. Generally, by calling them "characters," I mean that they are homeless or close to it. Literally, one fellow put his bed (a sleeping bag) under the bar as he sidled up for a drink. We went with the forementioned group of seasonal staff, and one girl was repeatedly hit on by a man who probably was 50 but looked 75 and had no more than three teeth in his head. He even bought our group of six a full round of drinks in order to cully some of her good graces, which is surprising, as he appeared to not be able to afford the facilities to bathe on a regular basis. It was like sitting in the backroom of a carnival tent. I can see how initially it is amusing, but I imagine the charm wears off quickly.

At any rate, our work situation seems to be fairly stable at this point. Jess will convert from a traveler status to a seasonal worker at her hospital the first week in May. She is a little worried that she will be called off frequently when things start to slow down for the summer. I'm not so worried about myself. My hospital is getting a little to the point of desperation, as they are in a hiring freeze and are stuck with the staffing situation as it is. Scott managed to work two overtime shifts on his unit this week, each landing him about $800. I'm considering trying to work some overtime myself, especially if Jess doesn't get to work as much this summer. I'm having a hard motivating myself to do that right now, but when the temperature starts to head north of 100F, that will probably change quickly.

Our plan for August? Good question, because there currently aren't any positions that have opened up. Here's to hoping that the situation improves by then.

Until next time, be safe.

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