Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Working for "The Man"

And by that I mean the g-man. Government. Now, officially I am a "public servant" as my place of business is only funded by the government in part. A big part. So we follow all the civil service rules and stuff.. same union, pay, holidays... yadda yadda yadda. It also means the recent cutbacks have totally screwed us over.

Back story : part of my job requires I work outside. Most of the areas aren't very sheltered. We are required to wear steel-toed boots, which are supplied in the format of wellies and ankle-high leather work boots. We can get waterproofs, fluffy padded vests, and cozy fleece-lined jackets.  But pretty much, that's it. So in winter you throw on thermals, and loads of warm socks. Gloves.. that's tough as I have to write and handle blood vials. A thin pair of knit gloves will fit under the latex gloves...

Now, normally wearing 3 pairs of socks and a pair of gloves would be okay. I mean, it doesn't get THAT much below freezing here. Unless you have Reynaud's. It's never really bothered me before.. a few white toes, and some mildly itchy chilblains. Until 2 weeks ago. After working outside for half an hour my hands were in agony... my toes were sore.. But my job is stationary mostly.. I can't really write well while jumping up and down to get some much-needed circulation in my toes.  But I carried on, as there was nothing else to be done.

I got home to find some really bad chilblains on my toes... it hurt to wear shoes! Last week My putside work lasted less than 2 hours, and I figured keeping my boots warm would help. Nope.. after an hour my toes were in agony, along with my hands. But there are no insulated work boots on offer at work.. no warm gloves.

Off to the doctor.. got some medication (calcium channel blockers) and a note to get suitable gear from work.  I expected to get sent to Occupational Health for them to decide what I needed. Nope.. I was told the money was too tight, but there may be some in petty cash and to submit quotes myself for what *I* thought suitable! Hell.. I grew up in Florida. My time spent in the freezing cold was always active.. not standing around taking notes. Whaaaa?!  So I got some quotes for some socks and gloves reccommended for Reynaud's.. and the only pair of lined winter safety boots in the catalogues that could be gotten in my size...

Now as much as i don't mind buying the socks and gloves and getting reimbursed.. I'm not shelling out for boots.. And now work is wondering how long all this will take as there is a lot of work to be done outside?! How the hell do I know how long it will take THEM to order boots? Or how long shipping will take for the other stuff.

And to make it worse, I was made to feel like I was trying to avoid outdoor work when I brought in my note. I asked for proper gear. I could have demanded to not go out at all. I suppose it is to be expected from folks who have never heard of the syndrome, and wonder if it's a permanent thing... Why should it be such a hassle getting a pair of boots?  People don't understand that my hands HURT outside. That I won't risk serious damage to my feet... that one day I might be fine, and the next I can't feel my toes.

But that's working for the man.. gotta fight for everything. maybe I should have said I can no longer work outside in cold weather... and see how they would have reacted..

rant over! peace out!