How to take control of my circumstances and my destiny.


Well-Known Member
I was about to respond on SWOT's new thread, and realized I merited my own.

This is how I started out to post on SWOT's thread: Ultimately, we are responsible to deal with what is happening to us. Even though it is not our fault or even responsibility. By this I was responding to how Bart blasted his mother because he was anxious about his court date and intolerant of the fact that SWOT has loyalties and responsibilities in addition to him.

So, most of you know I have returned to work.

The last 10 days or so have been chaos. And while it is not me who is responsible, I will be held responsible.

I have completed almost 3 weeks. More or less, because I was asked to leave the prison one day last week, for wearing a forbidden color of clothes (not). It seems I was not the only contract staff told to leave. One of our supervisors expressed that we were targeted.

I told M yesterday of my predicament and he said this: The money is not important. This is your reputation. M believes I have the highest of reputations and he is very proud of this. Doing his work well and dependably is the highest of values to him. He values that for me, too.

Tell them that you will have to stop working until they can arrange giving you the proper training and orientation to do your job. You will be blamed. They will scapegoat you. Take responsibility for protecting yourself. Tell them: I cannot continue working here unless this is solved. Give me what I need to do the job or I need to leave. Tell them that you will finish out this week and return when they have put in place the training and resources that you require.

Last week, the whole of it, was a disaster, as had been the prior Friday when I was scheduled 5 patients for whom to complete comprehensive evaluations, but had never been given access to the computerized forms I was to use, nor any training on how to complete them. Monday I was scheduled patients for my day off. On Tuesday I was told to leave after 20 minutes (as above.) Thus Friday, Monday and Tuesday--patients all were not seen or dealt with responsibly. Wednesday I do not remember.

Thursday afternoon I did receive access to the forms, but not to databases, or to training. I was told at 5pm that I was to go to training on security issues the next day. But not the next Monday or Tuesday, as another supervisor had told me. Following the training on Friday, I found that another 5 patients had been scheduled for while I was at the security training. (I was able to find one, and see him.) But still do not know the operating procedure for completing the forms, at this job site.)

I told two of the supervisors (there are 3 who directly supervise me but have no designated responsibilities--they are free-floating. So I have no one to hold responsible. But all 3 can hold me responsible.) All 3 supervisors are new.

On Thursday afternoon I told one of them: I would very much appreciate it if you designate a staff person for me to go to for help. I am willing to work an additional day or change my days off, for the next few weeks, in order to be trained to do my work. It will not take much. I have done all of these job duties, but I need to learn your computerized system. I am waiting for instruction per your direction, but my work is mounting up, unattended to. I am responsible for that work, but I do not have the tools necessary to do it. I will go ahead and do it as best I can and come to you for review.

No response. One supervisor told me: A co-worker cannot help you because they could train you wrong. We have to train you. (A week ago Friday when I told her I needed her help, she either forgot or ignored me and left.) But nobody is taking responsibility to train me on their system. The work keeps arriving like on a conveyor belt in a slapstick movie but I am not laughing.

The thing is this: it is not even so important that my reputation be preserved in relation to others. It is that I maintain my self-esteem, my reputation for myself. I have a 20 year career in prisons. I have been solid, dependable and workmanlike. In some situations at some times, I have been brilliant. I do not want to lose my esteem for myself. I care too much.

But I believe this is a set up for failure. Or worse. It could be.

I am not sure what to do. If I speak to one supervisor it looks like I am splitting or triangulating. If I speak to all of them together it looks like I am either a drama queen or taking them on.

My options:

1. I could say nothing and just keep working at what I can do, as I can do it, hoping that my learning curve will soon outdistance the impossible circumstances.

2. I could tell one supervisor that I need the conveyor belt to slow down until I get solid training. And ask him I was willing to be responsible.

3. I could go in tomorrow morning and talk to the three of them together and tell them all, directly, the state of my work the last 10 days, and put it on them. Tell them I need a solution or I will be forced too give notice and complete this week, or the next two. And will return if they want, when they have time to give me the training and resources I need. (This is what M thinks.)

This is not specific to me this problem. Except other new people start in groups (like interns) and have staff designated to train them for a time. Because I have a long work experience in 8 prisons it is easy to assume that I should just take responsibility for myself. (Impossible without access and training to their system.)

Finally, I am wondering why I chose to put this in FOO.

Last night sometime after M and I had talked about the situation, I told him, I am scared about work.

That's what I don't like about you. Why are you sad and scared? Just handle the situation. Take control. You take control over the circumstances. Protect yourself. Set limits. Do not let them take advantage of you or set you up. To use you to scapegoat. Stop that. Stop them.

Which must have been exactly the situation in my family. Nobody wanting to take responsibility, except wanting to take control and wanting a target, somebody to do the work, and to take the blame. Me: not knowing what was going on. No voice. Having no power to change anything. Just putting my nose to the grindstone to work and to behave.

I want to handle this situation in a way that I show myself I have mastery over myself and the circumstances I can control. I want to define this in the way that is best for me. In a way I can respect myself and take care of myself. I am not clear yet what that would be.


Well-Known Member
(yes this could have gone in the watercooler... but it doesn't really matter)

I'm not familiar with prisons, much less even US policies. But.
My first reaction? Where is HR in this.
Someone - some ONE person - had to be the signing authority for you to be hired (on contract). There is always ONE person. And therefore, there is someone, somewhere, who has to make the decision that the things that need to be done, will be done, and in a timely manner.

My first call would be to HR.


Well-Known Member
My first call would be to HR.
I have no responsibility to the Personnel Department, or them to me, as a contractor. The relationship is between me and the supervisor, or their supervisor who is the chief.

If I go to the chief I am circumventing the chain of command. I have been burned by that before at another prison. My only protection is due to the fact that they are short of help.

I can be terminated on the spot, for any reason. I have no rights. Only responsibilities. I am solely responsible. If I do not protect myself, nobody will do so. M is right.

The worst thing I could do would be to question their system. I have no right to do that. Either I can accept the terms of the job, or leave it.

I think my window to advocate myself is this week only.

I think I will go in and talk to all 3 of them together, tell them my concerns, and ask for a plan to deal with them so that I am established by the end of the week. I think I need to stay, stop the incoming work assigned until we have a plan to train me in the way that I require, and complete the unmet responsibilities that have built up--that I could not do for lack of training and access.

What do you think? I think that separating out one supervisor and speaking to him, is the worst thing to do, because he would see it as personal criticism and/or tattling.


Well-Known Member
I don't think you should TALK to any of them. Put it in writing. Email or send a memo to all three and copy the chief. You've tried. You've asked to be trained. No one is doing it.

But put it in writing.

If they do let you go, would that really be terrible? You're considering quitting anyway. If they let you go it simply shows that they have no intention of training you.


Well-Known Member
Wow, Copa. That sounds like process failure on so many levels. I have worked in large organizations that were very process-heavy. This appears to be process-OBESE, yet full of glaring holes in necessary protocol. Three supervisors? All of which have the same duties? Were you given a mentor or an "ask me if you have any questions" person a little bit down the chain of command?

Since you are basically contract labor, does the documentation you received on hire say anything about necessary training?

You are obviously very conscientious. In my opinion, talking to all three together is probably the way to get it all done efficiently, assuming all three of them don't try to kick the can down the road a little bit. Until then, I would document everything very carefully. I like Lil's idea about doing it in writing too.

Honestly, it sounds like you are worrying about this much more than...well, just about anybody in that department.


Well-Known Member
I agree with M and Lil on this. Nothing changes in Corrections till someone forces the change. And when dealing with supervisors...CYA at ALL times! Rule of thumb with Corrections, "If it ain't in black and white then it ain't".


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
I was going to recommend HR also. At the company I work for, that is where you'd START.

Since you don't have that as an option, I'd do M's suggestion #3 and put it in writing too (via email) if that is an option!


Well-Known Member
Were you given a mentor or an "ask me if you have any questions" person a little bit down the chain of command?
The problems as I see it are multiple and beyond the control of anybody to solve.

The one of the three supervisors that has given me the best training about what he knows is new. Only there 6 weeks himself. And he has his own behind to protect. I know he would throw me under the bus to save himself. He is not trained in the area I need to be trained in.

The second of the three supervisors is nice, but overwhelmed. He knows the stuff but is very cerebral and abstract and long-winded so when he blows in it just makes it worse.

The third of the supervisors knows everything but is unwilling to sit down with me. She just waves her hand and said, you can come and ask questions of any of us putting it back on me.
Since you are basically contract labor, does the documentation you received on hire say anything about necessary training?
I don't think you should TALK to any of them. Put it in writing. Email or send a memo to all three and copy the chief. You've tried. You've asked to be trained. No one is doing it.
I am afraid to do this, because the 3 will come down on me, as if I am betraying them. Honestly, I do not have the strength of personality to withstand this. I think if I did this, I might as well call it a day. I would have all 3 on top of me. This is a very top down type of organization. The little guy eats everything. There are no protections.

I would be dead meat. I may already be dead meat.

The more I think about it, the only options I have are:

1. Tell them all together the problem and that I need them to take responsibility for a solution. I need a dedicated one person to sit with me, and to give me a window of time to come up to speed, and to rectify the issues that have already accrued. I need a dedicated one person to whom to be accountable to until I get up to speed. While I understand why their system may work for them, it does not work for me.

2. Actually, there is not a number two. I need to take responsibility for myself. If they do not respond in a manner that I deem as necessary, I need to leave. The only question than is how long I allow for this to play out. I need to tell them that. That I am prepared to stay 2 weeks more in order to wind up the work that I have started and to deal with whatever short-term work they want me to. But I will not accept new patients until I am trained and competent.

So that is what I think I will do. I will tell them I am giving two weeks notice, of my intention to leave unless they take responsibility for training me and take responsibility for bringing me up to speed. If they do not take it seriously, or put it back on me, I will see it immediately, call it immediately and then only deal with establishing an end date.

How does that sound?


Well-Known Member
Just a side note: I am contract. Have been for 10+ years. And... HR will still help. Even though they don't pay me. They will tell me where to go or who to talk to or how to document. So HR may still be your ally.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
HR works with contractors at my company also and would still be point of contact. But I understand if that is NOT the case at your employer Copa.

I think your plan is good. It's all you can do. Good luck.


Well-Known Member
"If it ain't in black and white then it ain't".
Jabber. You and Lil are looking at this as state employees, where there is some recourse for employees. While I am a retired state employee, I am not now an employee. I have no employee-employer relationship with this facility. I am a contractor. There is no employment relationship. I am expected to do the job. Every other facility I have ever worked in (8) has provided either training specific to the facility, or a mentor. I have never, ever had 3 supervisors, all at the same level, without specific designated responsibilities.

If I documented it, I am certain I would antagonize and I would have to go. Documenting would offer me no protection.

My only recourse is to talk to them or leave. Or both. They really need help. I need to alert them to the situation and to the fact that I find it intolerable. And that at this point, we can rectify it. There is not too much to learn. Little by little I am doing it. It is that they keep giving me more and more work and I am not able to assimilate what I need to learn, and do the work--especially when it is assigned to me on my day off, or in training outside of the institution.

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
This is a tough one. You have boarded a ship that is not tightly run. Three weeks is so little time to sort through the politics of the place you work at.
I am glad you have M to discuss your issues with and watch your back.
One thing I have learned is that emails document concerns and response from the upper level. Just short, to the point, matter of fact.
I was writing this and stopped for a phone call......
It seems that you have thought through a solution to speak with the three, what happens next is dependent upon their reaction, whether they have capacity to organize and work through the challenges with you.
Then there is always that chance that if and when the bottom falls out, who will the responsibility be pinned on?
I am sorry that you are dealing with this Copa, you have overcome so much and courageously put one foot in front the other to get back to work. I have faith that you will figure out in due time the next step you need to take for you.
I agree with M, you don't need to be anyone's scapegoat.

You got this, Copa!


Well-Known Member
I would be dead meat. I may already be dead meat.

Nothing more dangerous than someone with nothing to lose!

Jabber. You and Lil are looking at this as state employees, where there is some recourse for employees.

You must have a completely different system for contracted employees than we do. While I understand about HR (no help here, hell, we don't realistically have an HR department) the fact of the matter remains that there is a serious problem that needs to be dealt with. You can't expect to throw someone onto a job with unfamiliar computer systems and regulations and expect them to thrive without proper training. If nothing else, on your way out the door go over their heads. This problem WON'T get resolved until someone has the cajones to piss in someone's Cheerio's over it though. Hopefully the two week notice by someone that they need will do the trick.

Sister's Keeper

Active Member
Do you work for an agency? Or do you independently contract?

If you work for an agency I would contact whoever is your go-to person there to help you deal with the problem of inadequate training.

If you are independent I would put it in writing and I would address it to all 3 supervisors and outline EXACTLY what type of training and orientation you require to adequately perform your job.


Active Member
Do you work for an agency? Or do you independently contract?

If you work for an agency I would contact whoever is your go-to person there to help you deal with the problem of inadequate training.

If you are independent I would put it in writing and I would address it to all 3 supervisors and outline EXACTLY what type of training and orientation you require to adequately perform your job.
I was just going to respond to Copa, but when I got down to SK's response ^^^, it is almost exactly what I was going to say! If you work for an agency, I would speak to them. If not I would speak to all three "together".

It sounds like the blind leading the blind!! Frustrating to say the least.


Well-Known Member
an agency? Or do you independently contract?
Hi guys. I work through a medical registry as an independent contractor. All the registry does is negotiate pay, collate paperwork to place us, and pay me. They have not one bit of responsibility or risk. I bear it all. Which made my feelings more urgent. I carry my own malpractice insurance. It is my professional license at stake. And you would think the pay would be great. It is not. It has gone down 30 percent in the last 9 years. I work there because I really love the inmates, I am appreciated my them, and I feel, really, really that the work is worth doing well.

So this is what I did: First I bugged M and kept asking him what to do and say until he was really pissed. He felt like I forgot the plan within 2 minutes of hearing it. He kept saying stuff like:

Don't make yourself the victim.
Don't act like a martyr.
You are not a quitter. Don't throw in the towel.
Take responsibility.
Fight for yourself. Defend yourself.
Your only choices are to demand what you need to make it work, or to leave. You will not change them.
I will not be mad or think less of you if you quit.
The money is not important.
I think you still have it in you to do this work, and do it well.
You love your work.

And while each statement made sense in itself, I could not put them together into a sense of what I could say that would work. That they would hear. That I could say, and not accuse them, or beg them--demeaning myself. Especially because I did feel like their victim, I did feel that it was them setting me up, and I did feel helpless to solve the problem.

By the time I arrived at work I realized (as did you guys) that the only option I had was to tell the truth about where I was. To talk to the 3 of them together.

To me, taking responsibility to solve the problem was realizing it was not my problem it was theirs and I was not going to take it on myself. Nor was I going to sacrifice my own self-esteem about myself as a professional, or my integrity or my feelings of pride in having a great career--for their fxxin problems.

I went into the office. Two were there. I was unafraid.

I said this: I have realized that I am in a train wreck and the trains keep coming down the track. I need to stop them. So far, I have been left to my own devices, without training. And it is not working. Three days this past week (I work only 4 10 hour days) I have been scheduled a full complement of new patients, requiring full evaluations--when I am either not allowed in the prison, assigned to custody type trainings, or not scheduled to be at work. I am taking responsibility to do this work. But I need your support here, so that I can succeed.

They listened attentively and did not seem mad (I wonder if they were shocked that I had the nerve because their eyes did not leave me. You see, I act very gracious and even submissive) until one (the older one, said something snarky, like what do you expect, that we should sit down with you and hold your hand? Which is exactly what happens in most other facilities, where you are given somebody to shadow, or sit with, or formal training for weeks, or somebody to observe. I have done it myself for others, many times.)

So quickly, like a poisonous asp, I responded: Fine. I am prepared to give notice. We will now transition to that topic. I have had a stellar career and I will not put that in the balance.

Guess how quickly his tone changed? So, by this point, I was feeling a bit high strung, but empowered, so I continued.

This is what I require: No more new work to come. For now.. Stop the trains until I have completed the work that has built up, until I learn your procedures. I understand now that I will not be receiving training, the training that was promised repeatedly.

I am willing to do my best, with the understanding that I will be training myself, and you will be responsible for reviewing my work, and giving me feedback. I was put in an impossible situation, not of my making but I am willing to do that.

At this point, they were totally and completely submissive and compliant. There has been no more attitude or snarkiness. They seem a trifle afraid of me. Good. One of them said, nobody could have done better in the situation you found yourself in.

The thing is: Nobody meets their standards. Almost nobody. Because the work load and the standards are impossible. And near everybody is burnt out.

F-in jerks. Thanks guys.

PS. Tomorrow is the deadline when I have to present the cases to interdisciplinary treatment team. I finished. I even enjoyed myself a great deal today with some patients. I think I am over the worst part. Because I remembered who I was. I am excellent at my work. I will not allow myself to be defined by their mistreatment of me.

M was right. I defend and take care of myself, and fight for myself and define myself. I cannot change anybody. Either I change or leave. It seems I was prepared to do both.

Yay Me. Thank you everybody for your support and your care and counsel.
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
PS Many of you know how hard I have been on myself for not working in these almost 3 years since my Mom died.

Actually, after going through these past 3 weeks, I do not see how I could have done this sooner, returned to this kind of work in this setting.

And more than this, I see that this time has served me. I have a clarity about who I am that I did not have before. Much of it I owe to CD. By posting and posting and posting, I learned to trust my own voice about myself--in a manner new to me. I got confidence that I could trust my voice, and intuition. Now I always had that. But not like this. I think I have gained a great deal of strength. And I believe I manifested it this week. I will never be the same.

Thank you.


Well-Known Member
@Copabanana wondering how this went
Lil. I was so tired last night I could barely walk. We got take out at In n out burgers for dinner and I had a vanilla milkshake and fries and could not care less.

Today, M says I look less tired.

You know what I feel like now? They cannot touch me now. The place cannot touch me. What can they do? Tell me to leave? So what? As far as I am concerned, what I was meant to learn and could learn I have. It is all the downward slope now.

Thank you Lil for asking about me. Thank you Jabber for understanding all too well. (Nobody should have do know and experience what you have.)

In CA the receivership (Federal Judge) has controlled medical and mental health for almost 25 years!!!!

The State was deemed so incorrigible in that they would not provide the constitutionally mandated standard of health care that in 2011 the Department of Corrections was forced to release like 20 percent or more of their inmates because they would not improve health care. The solution? OK. You can't improve their health care. Let a quarter of them out. And they had to. The Feds decided that health care in CA prisons was insufficient to care for the prison population as it was. OK. Let them out. And they had to.

So after 20 years they began to see that they did not have all of the power--the Feds could bust them. And what has happened? They got arrogant with healthcare providers--the same attitude--and nobody will work for them. And still? They cannot get it through their heads that they are not absolute monarchs.

Counties all over CA are in crisis because they cannot arrest anybody, because jails are full of guess what? Prisoners from the state who had to be released. In my town the problem is really beyond the pale. We have already been impacted by it several times, as a family. Crime that goes unpunished. The cops try to talk us out of filing complaints. Like when a guy came in the other house and stole M's tools. Or a couple broke into the other property to use drugs.Or the woman who broke into the house to sleep and my son found her in the next bedroom.

All because of arrogance and abuse of power.
Last edited: