When the “reliable one” gets sick

I have always been the reliable one both in my private and professional life. I take pride in my work and go the extra mile to make sure all is done and everyone gets what they want. I’m not a pushover, but I never say: “This isn’t my problem.”

The problem with being reliable is that people quickly get used to having someone they can count on to the point where they completely stop trying to handle dilemmas themselves.

“It’s okay “Reliable One” will take care of it.”

doctor-2346235_1920What happens when that person gets a chronic illness? What happens when each day becomes a struggle? What happens when she starts having to take more time off for medical appointments, tests and sick days. What happens when this person is no longer able to physically make it to the office 5 days a week?

Our receptionist is going on medical leave for a minimum of 6 months. She was diagnosed with cancer and has to go through chemo. All of this happened very suddenly and took everyone by surprise.

In a perfect world, people would pull together to fill the whole, but why should day? Doesn’t the “reliable one” take care of everything? Afterall, she only has an incurable chronic illness, not cancer.

The reception team used to be composed of one main receptionist and four backups. The first backup is now taking over the reception duties until we hire a temporary replacement. The managers of the biggest department suddenly decided that the 2nd backup is no longer doing reception duties stating that she is needed elsewhere.  That means we are down 2 people. The manager of the smallest department refuses that we used his admin as the 1st backup (she used to be 3rd) and annoyed at the entire situation, decided we weren’t to use her at all. So now we are down 3 people. The only one left is the supervisor of reception, which happens to be the “reliable one.” whose only supposed to do reception back up duties when all else fails.

“It’s okay “Reliable One” will take care of it.”

girl-2281969_1920So in the next 2 weeks, the “Reliable One” is expected to interview candidates for the temporary replacement job at reception, hire and train said temporary receptionist, revamp the phone system tree to make reception easier, created new scripts and have them recorded, and take care of all reception backup. She is expected to manage a huge database update and multiple staff training on various systems, which is her responsibility as the IT/Computer support employee and, take care of her regular tasks, as well as general support to the staff in 2 different office locations.

Everyone seems to have suddenly forgotten that the “Reliable One” needs to work from home once a week just to get through the week. That she is dealing with multiple chronic illnesses that make it physically and mentally difficult to get through each day.  It’s as if everyone suddenly assumed she can put all that stuff away for the time being and step up while everyone else says: “It’s not my problem.”

No one seems to understand that for someone with a chronic illness, pushing through the pain only makes it worse. Forcing her to do more work and make it at the office every day, will only make her even sicker. Instead of managing her illness to offer her employer the best productivity, she is forced to run a marathon, that will send her to the hospital and they will lose the “Reliable One” completely. Then what?

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