Monthly Archives: November 2020

Logistical Nightmares II

I have recounted some of the positive effects I had on the Army’s medical supply system, in theater and out. When you do something in the service, especially in wartime, you have a blank check to complete your mission. The comptroller wanted a tally of what you spent but you were free to spend as much as needed.

When I went to the private sector, it was the opposite. Looking back, I was no longer a logistician. I became a bean counter and actually cut the supply lines in order to track every penny spent by providers. My job was partially one of automating the space between the loggies and the nurses. Here’s how it went.

I finally got my BA in sociology in 2015. As many know, the paper pedigree opens you up to new job opportunities. I was a college graduate, but I was also terribly sick from bipolar. Still, I managed to get hired somehow because of the magic paper and my enthusiasm for returning to logistics.

Now back in the service, we in supply either controlled what left the warehouse or the supply was behind cabinets you couldn’t access without a keycard. Those approaches helped us curtail abuses by providers. Now I know when someone in healthcare needs something fast, you tend to not give a damn about logging your choices. But it was for their protection as well as helping us keep track of what was being used. Let me explain a little.

At one of my Army gigs, every type of supply used in a unit had its place in a cabinet and underneath it was a button you could push whenever you took something and the machine would debit the amount you took in the computer system. It couldn’t have been made easier, but for some reason people couldn’t abide by the rules anyway. That in turn made it difficult to know what to bring them on a daily basis, because the levels in the machines were off every single day. So there was no easy solution to allowing providers to access what they wanted while keeping track of what they accessed. That problem was much more intractable at this private hospital I began to work at in 2016. People, it was a mess. There was no locked cabinet with simple pushbuttons to encourage people to account for their supply. It was just sitting there on shelves and there was a computer adjacent to them and they had to badge in and enter their transactions by scanning the barcode below the product. Needless to say, providers were not encouraged to do the right thing because everything was right there for the taking. And when their closets were short on supply, they’d bitch to upper management about the logistics shop. We had to tell them time and time again that if you want the right amount of supplies, you have to use the damn scanner so the computer can generate a proper pick sheet and then we bring you the right amount of shit. The lesson never took with most units. Thus, we had the extra task of counting the closets before we generated pick sheets so that the proper number of supplies were brought up.

It fell on me to go to war with the providers. I am sad to say that I participated in making it harder for the nurses just so we could tightly manage supply. On one level, we were just trying to make the system work for everyone. There were egregious mistakes that I made, though. Once I tried to stop nurses from abusing the special order system to order basic supplies. That function on the computer was only to be used for supplies outside what was in their closet, not for them to push a panic button and make logistics hop to whenever they ran out of the basics. I tried to punish them by removing the button and got myself in a lot of hot water. There were nurse managers who supported some of my reforms but I did not feel like I had the backing of upper management in logistics. No one was guiding me on how to do things, I had to learn the system on my own and come up with my own fixes to these dilemmas. And I was crazier than fuck throughout all of it.

I developed a vicious case of anxiety over the job and quit after seven months. Following this position I took a job as a produce clerk while I waited for a disability rating from the VA. It was favorable, and I’m totally and permanently disabled which means my work career has come to an end. I think that’s a fair conclusion. Being housebound is not the greatest thing for me, but it might be a shade better than not doing a thorough job in the working world. If I get wound up and stay that way, I can’t do anyone any good. It’s simply too easy to wind me.

Morning, For Real This Time

We did it.

We removed the most toxic president in modern history using the arsenal of our democracy. He’s currently having the shittiest game of golf in his life.

It’s been a long road to get here for me. Since 2016, my negativity about the state of the nation had steadily been increasing. The impeachment fiasco pretty much broke me. So I am happy that I am now able to hope again. It’s important to me in middle age that I not be my usual cynical self. No one wants to be around Debbie Downer and it’s high time I realized that. It’s not always fucked. You have to take the bad with the good without losing your light.

All I can say to everyone in our tribe now, is relax and feel good about this successful operation. And then it is time for the Biden administration to deliver on the promises they made. I will be happy if we just deal with this damn virus even if it takes a year. There’s no normalcy to be found while bodies keep piling up.

Go in peace, friends.

It feels like fucking Independence Day, doesn’t it?

Between Hope And Annihilation

It’s the morning after the election, and I am sad to take note of how many people voted for our unstable, mercurial, homicidal incumbent. It’s clear that we on the left have not come fully to grips with who we are as a nation.

As the land lays right now (8am), we don’t have a clear winner yet. Mail-ins favor Biden, and we already have a Trump campaign a) declaring victory. and b) announcing it’s going to go to the mat to stop votes from being counted. The latter activity seems to me to be a good sign that the Trump machine is worried about the result. But hope has been hard to come by these last twelve hours; we were all heavily invested in a “blue wave” that broke well before it could drown Trump and anyone he trucked with in these last four years. It never materialized. Our Senate is going to be lost to the GOP again and that should tell us something (EDIT 11/5: this observation was faulty and premature).

It’s time to start understanding that we are not a righteous or a particularly smart nation. But is it our fault we are always so wrong about it? Or have we been so psychologically tormented by Trumpist control of the nation that we will latch on to just about anything that claims it can end it? I am not sure. But this is the year that we should disabuse ourselves of the notion that good will always triumph over evil. Evil always has even odds. I’m reminded of Hunter S. Thompson’s somber coda in Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas which goes a little like this:

There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.

Those of us who read know how it all turned out; the American dream was too elusive for capture. That was true in 1971 and I suspect not much has changed. Lucy, ever the little white supremacist, has always had the football and ever it shall be. They had acid, we have Twitter. We believe in each other’s inherent power but I’m afraid that’s not always the stuff that moves a mountain.

I hope everything turns out the way we need it to. But we should gird ourselves for a bitter conclusion because our fellow countrymen, women and otherwise clearly do not know up from down. If we win, let’s not forget too easily that we came close to being blown out yet again. If we lose, let’s nonetheless remember that optimism is not the elemental force we thought it was. We shall always continue to vote for what is correct and proper, but we must leave a little room and prepare for annihilation. It’s the only fair thing we can do for ourselves in this cussed nation. This is a fight, and you always stand a chance of getting hit with a punch you weren’t expecting.

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