I’m always late to work. It is known, Khaleesi.
For the entirety of my professional career, my annual reviews were generally good. People were happy with the work I was doing. But I was chronically and eternally begged by my bosses to do two simple things:
Put your shoes on.
Get to work on time.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t giving my bosses a full day’s work; I’ve got a pretty powerful measure of concentration, and I was generally doing more work than anyone else in the same position. No, the problem was that I was setting a bad example for other employees, who WERE being held to business hours. I needed to respect that, too.
And every year I would promise to do better. Until I began promising to TRY to do better. And then one year (poor Greg Adams was my supervisor at the time) I suddenly thought – I’m done promising something that I just don’t seem to be able to do. “No. I’m not going to. Dock my pay instead,” I suggested.
He goggled at me. Poor man; I’m not an easy person to manage. “I can’t do that. Come to work on time. Please.”
“I can lie if you want, but you and I know that it’s just not going to happen.”
When I became a freelancer, many MANY people were relieved.
That moment was a watershed for me. It took me decades to realize that intentions weren’t enough, and there was no sense wasting anyone’s time by pretending that they were.
I’m having that moment now. Ten days late, but I’m having it all the same.
I went to my doctor for my physical. I need paperwork filled out for my cruise to Antarctica in November so I made the appointment. Physicals now are conducted in such an amazingly cursory fashion that I didn’t even have to get undressed. My doctor spent time encouraging me to vote (which – duh. Of course.) and then we reviewed my exercise regime. Which, come on. It’s totally impressive, and more than 80% of her patients are doing.
She poked at my belly for a while and listened to my lungs and my heart. She signed me up for labs. (My cholesterol is too high. Again, duh. I’ve been living on ice cream. But that’s a post for another time.)
And then she said “I need to tell you that you should lose weight.”
“Thanks,” I said, not meaning it at all.
It’s rankled in me for TEN DAYS. I weighed 250 pounds on her scale – four pounds more than last year. I am one solid muscle, which of course weighs more than fat. But she didn’t care. She had no words of encouragement; she had no support to offer me. She just said what her Kaiser Permanente algorithm would let her say. “Lose weight.”
And now, ten days later, what I wish I’d said (and what I will say next time) was “NO.”
I wish I’d said “For sixty years doctors have been telling me to lose weight—and I have tried. I have dieted and exercised. I’ve cried and panicked. I’ve planned and plotted. And I’ve been ashamed of my failures. For SIXTY YEARS.
“But here’s what I’m realizing: I didn’t fail. YOU failed. Your medicine has entirely bypassed me. You’ve offered nothing at all to do this miraculous thing you want—this losing weight thing. Nothing that would allow me to lose weight and keep it off, safely and naturally. BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THAT EITHER.”
So fuck you, Kaiser. You’ve denigrated and dismissed me one too many times. If you can’t help, stop getting in my way. I’m managing my health; you’re not.
I’m not getting to work on time.
I’m not going to wear shoes.
And you don’t know any more than I do about losing weight. Health is the goal, not some number on a scale.
I swear. Greg Adams is lucky I was so mild-mannered!