When I Was Poor

A man was shot on Rivertree Circle in Orlando. This area is one of the “bad neighborhoods” in Orlando. It isn’t Pine Hills or Paramore bad, but that is mainly due to the fact that the “bad” area isn’t that large. Still, this is the Americana area, which is one of the worst areas for crime in the Orlando area:

  1. Pine Hills
  2. Paramore
  3. Washington Shores
  4. Americana Blvd
  5. Semoran Blvd
  6. Kirkman Road
  7. Metro West

Hearing about that neighborhood brings back memories.

Shortly after I was divorced 25 years ago, I was homeless for a time. Friends letting me shower at their place or sleep on the couch occasionally. The amount of child support I was paying, combined with the fact that the court ordered me to pay all of the credit card debt from when we were married meant being without much money. The child support and credit cards were automatically deducted from my pay, which only left me with $300 per month to live on. I walked everywhere and only ate on the days I was at the firehouse for work. I lost 55 pounds that summer. After two months, the small amount of money I could save enabled me to save $500 for a down payment to get a buy here/pay here car and allowed me to get a second job and live in that car.

Once my income was a bit better, I was able to split a two bedroom apartment with a roommate, and the Americana area was the only one we could afford. My half of the rent and utilities was $300 a month. I just checked- the rent in that area is much higher now. A two bedroom in that area costs about $1500 a month nowadays. For a crime ridden ghetto neighborhood.

The neighborhood was so bad that delivery drivers would refuse to deliver pizza or other meals in there, so you had to go get it as take out. Not even a pizza. One of the few places that used to deliver there was a place called “Steak Out.” They have since gone out of business in Florida, but it wasn’t that the food was bad. They delivered a complete steak dinner, the meals were decent, and the prices were reasonable. It’s just that they routinely got robbed at gun point. I was able to order from them once a month or so. It was a special treat.

I once ordered a meal from there, and just as I was biting into the salad, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to discover the delivery driver standing there, disheveled and beaten. He asked to use the phone, because he said he had just been robbed at gunpoint. I immediately drew a handgun, and his eyes grew wide as saucers, and I asked him what the guy looked like. I never found him. The critter was long gone.

In short, I was broke and had to live in a shitty, crime infested neighborhood. It was the kind of place where you didn’t go outdoors at night, unless you had a death wish. I spent a year living there, and then got out.

That was a rough time in my life, but I didn’t sit around and wait for handouts. I worked at the Fire Department, and on my days off I worked a second job as a janitor at Sea World. I went to school during what free time I had and got my paramedic. That got me a $7,000 a year raise. I also quit my janitor job and got a second job working for an ambulance company, which paid much better than janitorial work. I didn’t have to be poor any longer.

Don’t give up. Hard work and a bit of smarts can get you out of whatever situation you are in.

Piling On

I was awakened this morning at 5 am by a text message from the charge nurse at my now former job. He wanted to let me know that they were calling me off for my scheduled shift today. I responded that I already knew that, as they had told me last week that I was no longer on the schedule. I respect this nurse and he wasn’t part of the decision to let me go, so no hard feelings.

Then I got another text message from management at 9am that reads:

We removed you from the schedule for the rest of this week. Good luck to you in your new job. Our loss is their gain. Please return your ID badges at your convenience.

I haven’t worked there for 3 weeks. That means I have already received my last paycheck. There is no reason for me to go back there to return my IDs, and it is therefore not convenient to me.


I am still on the text messaging group that my (now former) job uses to communicate with employees. I just got a text message that all employees need to attend a mandatory training session on Tuesday the 23rd so they can be trained on the new Philips cardiac monitoring system that is being installed on Wednesday the 23rd. It seems that they just spent a quarter of a million to replace 3 year old monitoring system with a new monitoring system. Now I know why they can’t afford to pay anyone.


An hour after losing my job and promising the wife that I won’t spend any money until I start getting paychecks again, I get an email from Sportsman’s Warehouse that looks like this:

So It Happened

I asked my readers whether or not I should give 2 weeks’ notice. Giving two weeks’ notice doesn’t mean anything, and when it comes time to get rid of employees, employers are quick to point out that Florida is an “at will” employment state where you can be terminated at any time, for any reason. I gave a month’s notice to one job when I left for PA school in a different state, and left on what I thought were good terms. They even threw me a going away party. I am on the “no rehire” list.

Well, I gave two weeks’ notice last week. I drove into work and had a very cordial conversation with my manager. I told him the story about how the HR director wouldn’t even offer to pay more in order to keep me. His response was that the HR director should not have been so unprofessional, and that he would be mentioning it to the Chief of Nursing. He then told me that I would like working at my new hospital, because he has heard a lot of good things about them. I am the third nurse this month to head over there, just from my department. He told me that I was great at my job, and the department would be worse off without me. It was very cordial.

So what happened next? My current employer fired me this morning. By text message. This is the text message I just got from my manager:

We are removing you from the schedule for this week and next week. So now you can move forward with your new position.

Cowards. They didn’t even have the guts to tell me I was fired, or to do it to my face. Instead, I get “removed from the schedule.” This proves is that the old standard of giving a two week notice is no longer the norm in the United States. It would have been better for me if I had simply worked to the end, then told them on the way out the door at the end of my last shift that I wouldn’t be returning. Doing the “right” thing just cost me two weeks’ pay.

More Work Stories

You will recall that I was told that they couldn’t come close to paying me what other hospitals are offering me, even though they are paying H1C visa people $1 an hour more, and are paying contract nurses $20 an hour more than they are paying me. I haven’t yet put in my 2 weeks’ notice. I was planning on doing that this week. The problem? Since I am PRN, I was just notified that I have been taken off the schedule this week because the ED has a low census.

Last week, they had me come in 4 hours late one day, then had me leave 4 hours early the next. So I was 8 hours short last week. Now I am an entire week short this week. Hazard of being PRN, I guess. It’s enough to make it feel personal.

As for the low census? We are a 50 bed ED, requiring 14 nurses to staff for the shift. On busy days, we have as many as 90 patients at once, but 70 or so is the norm. That means we have patients stacked in the hallways on reclining chairs, and there are as many as 12 to 15 patients to a nurse. The days that I had my hours cut short? We had a full ED at 52 patients for 50 beds. So they sent me home. It wasn’t just me who was sent home early. I was on the midshift, meaning all of the nurses and techs who come in at 9am, 11 am, and 1 pm for their 12 hour shifts. The entire midshift- 3 nurses, 4 technicians, and a paramedic, were sent home at 7pm, even though we were full at 52 patients.

Nurses have remarked, “As long as we keep doing this, they will keep making us do it, until it becomes the ‘way we have always done things.’ Then we will be expected to run shorthanded.”

It looks like those days are here. Remember when they were squawking that the ICU was overrun with patients because they were at 95% capacity? That’s where the hospital purposely keeps itself- to maximize profits. So you lower capacity to match demand, except that in this case, they are keeping the hospital’s ED at over 100% capacity, which is dictated by nurses.

Not my problem in two and a half weeks. Now I am asking- should I even bother giving two weeks’ notice?

No Saturday Post

There was no post today because the wife and I went to Saint Petersburg for the night. We had a lovely dinner at Doc Ford’s Rum bar on the Saint Pete pier. The hogfish was fresh and delicious. Then we went to see the Devil Rays play the Yankees before hanging out for some Cinco De Mayo festivities in the downtown area. We spent the night and returned this afternoon. A good date night.

I want to add that there are metal detectors at Tropicana field, and it isn’t legal to carry in there. However, pepper spray is legal to carry there, as it isn’t considered a weapon. I would also add that I have pepper spray that doesn’t seem to ever get picked up by magnetometers. I’m sure it is on the list of prohibited items, but prohibited isn’t the same thing as illegal.

Why Navy?

Big Country asks why people would join the Navy. He asks, I will explain. Back when I was in high school, I took the ASVAB. That sucker is widely considered to be the best vocational aptitude exam ever. I got one point short of a perfect score. The only section that I didn’t get a perfect score on was called “speed coding.” It was the section where you are given a decoder sheet of random letters, an encoded message, and are asked to decode it for time. I missed a perfect score by a single point. IIRC, a perfect score at the time was a 99, and I got a 98.

So as a result, the offers poured in. Now I was one of those guys who had known that I wanted to serve for as long as I can remember. I was young, naïve, and loved my country. With this being the Reagan years, and being a kid raising himself on a diet of Heinlein, Mack Bolan, and the like, I wanted to serve. But where?

  • The Coast Guard wanted to send me to the academy and make me an officer. I would have owed them 8 years of service.
  • The Army was going to make me a Warrant Officer and a helicopter pilot
  • The Marines wanted to train me as an avionics repairman as an E3
  • The Navy wanted to make me a Nuclear Power plant operator for 6 years, with a rank of E4
  • The Air Force wouldn’t promise me anything in advance, sign up for 4 years and take your chances

As an 18 year old, I wasn’t ready for the 12 year commitment of the Coast Guard. The Air Force worried me, as I didn’t want to wind up as a wing washer or a cook. My father convinced me that the Navy would teach me skills as a power plant operator that I wouldn’t get in the Marines. He said that Avionics repair in the military was just swapping one black box for another. I took his word for it.

So it was between Army and Navy. The Navy recruiter’s pitch sounded sooo much better. What I didn’t know at the time was that the Navy was having difficulty filling the ranks with people who had done well on ASVAB because the Air Force was taking all of them. That’s why the AF didn’t have to make promises or offer big promotions.

So how did the Navy fix that? They promised all sorts of money, tech school, and promotions. Once you were in, they found every reason that they could to wash you out of the two year long training pipeline. The only program in the Navy with a higher washout rate is the SEAL program. That way, they can fill the ranks with smart people who otherwise would have been lost to other branches of the service. That’s why the washout rate is over 80%, even though the Navy claims its only around 10%. When I was in boot camp, one in five recruits were nukes, but the vast majority wouldn’t make it. This was before Top Gun made everyone think they were going to be a pilot and sleep with hot chicks while thumbing your nose at officers from the motorcycle you would ride down the runway.

I was washed out of Nuclear Power School and sent to the fleet. For what?

The school had a policy that you were assigned a study plan. The minimum GPA to remain in the program was 3.0. There were three levels to the plan: Voluntary, Suggested, and Mandatory. Being assigned suggested 16 meant that they suggested you study 16 hours per week. What we were learning was classified, so all studying had to be done in the classroom. Your notes had to stay in the classroom. Study hours were 2 hours a night Monday through Thursday and eight hours a day on Saturday and Sunday.

I had a GPA of 3.4 and was assigned mandatory 20. Another guy in my class was assigned voluntary hours, but his GPA was 3.2. When I asked about the disparity and pointed out its unfairness, I was told “That’s as good as I think he can do, but I think you can do better.”

Being a rather immature 18 years old, I wasn’t about to submit to this injustice and study 2 hours every weeknight plus six hours each on Saturday and Sunday, so I didn’t do it. Like I said, I was immature. Not only that, I don’t get a benefit from studying like that. I’m not that sort of learner. Not making excuses. It was immature and stupid on my part, but that is how washouts happen. They regularly catch people for various offenses and send them to the fleet. Someone has to mop floors, clean spaces, and serve officers their dinner as waiters in the officers’ mess.

So I went to NJP, was dropped from E4 to E3, got booted from Power School, and sent to the fleet, becoming what Navy people euphemistically call “Nuke Waste.” I was shocked when I arrived at my command, an aircraft carrier, and more than three quarters of the 200 non-nuclear electricians on board were nuclear waste. I still had a minimum of four years left on my enlistment. The guy who had been on voluntary hours? He got washed out the same week I did for drinking underage, also as an E3.

I spent nearly two years mopping floors, doing dishes, cleaning, and generally being untrained labor before finally being promoted back to E4. I spent the entire time wishing that I had taken the deal to be an Army helicopter pilot.

Does it come through that I am bitter? It should. I think that the six years I spent in the Navy was wasted time that I could have better spent elsewhere, although I know that college at the time would not have been a good idea for me. (Immature, remember? I would have found some other way to get in trouble.) Still, we make the best of where we find ourselves. I’ve done OK. I still discouraged my own kids from joining the military.


So, I have been continuing to get ready for our move. I’m sitting here on my day off, looking at things. (Ever since I made it known that I am looking for a job, extra hours have become harder to come by. Strange for a hospital that claims to be short staffed, huh? That’s OK. I’m putting in my 2 weeks’ notice next week. I’m taking a month off when the wife’s school is done for the year.)

One of the things I am doing is looking at changing the way that we handle Internet and Television. That system is a ripoff thanks to what they call “bundling.” I have seen Greek instruction manuals that are less confusing than our cable bill. Let me give you an example:

  • They charge me $102 for Internet service that is nominally at 800MBps. When I check it, the best I get is around 50-70 MBps. My in-laws live 2 miles away and are getting 250 MBps, according to speedtest. So I decide that I am not paying for speed that I’m not getting and look to see what a lower speed would save me. Lowering my speed to 400 would actually RAISE my bill by $22 a month. Going to 200 would raise my bill by $34 a month. Yeah, I know that they have a disclaimer that says speed can vary, but only getting 10% of what they are advertising seems to be a bit much.
  • Now on to television. My wife watches far more of it than I do, but I do occasionally watch. Mostly movies, hockey, and old television shows. My wife loves watching shows like medical dramas. I can’t stand those, but we gotta keep the wife happy. They charge us $91 for 185 channels. Cutting it to the 125 channel option would save us a whopping 94 cents per month. If I go to only 10 channels, it would save me $40, but I can get those same 10 channels with an antenna.
  • Then there are the add-ons. They charge us $30 for three cable boxes, another $10 for DVR service, $6 for the remote controls so we can use their cable boxes, and a bunch of other things like sports fees, local service fees, and sales tax. Then they give us some bull hockey ‘discount’ for a “bundle” and our entire Internet/Cable bill? $225 a month. Holy shit.

Believe it or not, this is the better of the providers in our area. We tried DSL. That service has even slower Internet. We tried DirecTV, but every time it rains or even gets cloudy, we lose TV service. It rains in Florida every day.

So I am looking at our new neighborhood. There are two high speed providers in the area, both claiming to offer 1000 MBps. I will be overjoyed to get a quarter of that speed. The cost looks to be $70 a month, but I can’t be sure, as my address doesn’t exist yet, so they won’t give me a quote.

At that point, I think I am going to switch to streaming. My choices, as I see it, are YoutubeTV, DirecTV streaming, or HULU +live TV. Does anyone else have other suggestions?

I Don’t Get It

We had our monthly department meeting this morning. There’s nothing like going in to work on your day off so you can be told a bunch of corporate rah-rah garbage that easily could have been an email. One of the things that they did was hired a bunch of nurses, techs, and a couple of doctors. One of the nurses that they hired is from the mid-east. As in, the UAE. She has never been a nurse in the US before, and her US license is brand new. Her English is pretty good.

That’s what confused me. So I told you last month that I ran into the HR director at a job fair, and they tried to recruit me because they didn’t even recognize me. Then, once I told them what I was being offered by other hospitals, told me that they couldn’t come close to matching it. The UAE nurse? They are paying her $1.00 per hour more than I was asking for. I don’t think it was personal, because the HR director didn’t even know my name when she told me that there was no way I could get that much.

I don’t understand why they would rather bring in people from other countries than pay the employees that they already have enough to get them to stay. I guess it doesn’t matter- I am out of there. My last day is less than 6 weeks away, and I haven’t even told them yet. I don’t know if I want to give much notice. That decision is day to day.