Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Little Ducklings

We have a great submission from one of our readers:

Super Bowl Sunday – an exciting time all over the nation. Most people are getting pumped up for the big game. Me on the other hand, I’m dreading it. Why? Because I’m on duty. Super Bowl Sunday equals madness for any RA/CA on duty. As I braced myself for the night that was to come, I tried to assure myself that things wouldn’t be too out of control. “It’s only 6:00, surely nothing will happen until at least midnight,” I said to myself. Boy was I wrong. I, along with the other RA/CA on duty, start rounds at 6:00 in our building of over 600 residents. Not even five minutes into rounds, we smell that oh so familiar skunky smell. Unfortunately, the smell was hailing from one of my residents’ room, and to make matters worse, it was the room of the residents I had made the closest connections with. They weren’t just residents to me. They were my little ducklings, and I was Mama Goose.

Thus began my internal conflict: “What do I do? I love these kids; I don’t want to call the police. But we have to; it’s our job. But then I’ll feel like it’s my fault if they get in trouble! But it’s a consequence for their actions! But… but!” At that point, I just broke down crying. I cried because I was scared for them. I cried because I was disappointed in them. I cried because I hated that I was in a situation where I questioned my duty as an RA/CA.

Everything seems so easy in training, but when we find ourselves in the moment, it’s not as simple as “I’m going to need to see your identification”. Thank goodness the other RA/CA on duty had better control of his emotions and was able to provide me comfort while doing what needed to be done. After talking to one of my supervisors and attempting to pull myself together, we continued on.

A few floors later, we smelled the same smell. Really people? Are you TRYING to make my night miserable? It’s only 6:30! This time I called the police. We continued on. A few floors later…you have got to be kidding me. Again? Is my nose playing tricks on me? Nope. I’m sure our wonderful police officer was starting to get a bit peeved. We called, again, and I watched as one by one, my little ducklings filed out of the room. Again, I lost it. I tried so hard to keep the tears in, but they just wouldn’t stop. I had to excuse myself. I went upstairs to call my mother and just bawled my eyes out. I just couldn’t watch my ducklings in that situation. I felt terrible. I felt bad for leaving the other RA/CA to deal with things as I fell apart in my room. I felt bad for not being able to keep my emotions in check. I felt unprofessional. Thankfully my supervisor knocked on my door and let me cry my eyes out to him. He definitely helped me to feel better about the situation (Pro-Staff, FTW!) and encouraged me to talk to my ducklings.

It was about 8:30 by the time this was all over and done with. Almost time for 9:00 rounds. So this was the year I didn’t get to watch a single second of the Super Bowl. Ah well, this one night of duty taught me many things. It absolutely changed my perspective on a few things. When talking to my supervisor, he told me that my compassion/making other peoples’ problems my own was both a blessing and a curse. I guess I never looked at it that way before. I learned that I need to be true to myself and my job. I learned that I might need to work on controlling my emotions a bit better, but that it was okay to be upset. I learned some other things, but most of all I learned that if you’re an RA…stay away from duty on Super Bowl Sunday. ;)

I have had similar situations as Mother Father Goose, and my little ducklings getting in trouble brought a great amount of disappointment. It is often more difficult to confront an issue on your floor while on duty regardless of what day it is. A connection has been formed and we hate having to make our residents face the consequences for their actions.  It is a very difficult situation for any RA/CA but sadly it will happen to many.  It's an epidemic!!!  

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