I Got A Job!

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And we moved! And we sold the camper!

Let it be known that even though ‘between jobs’ is my favorite state and I joke about living entirely off JobSpotter and MyPoints surveys, I did not intend to go this long between nursing contracts. We’ve had some great adventures- Greenland, Isle Royale, New York City, and especially in southern Arizona– but you know how mama feels about earning money. We knew we wanted to spend the winter in Tucson, but we went to Tulsa after harvest so Greg could get his hours in at Tulsa International. I applied for my California license last fall, and have been submitted for a potential nursing strike since December, and I started submitting for 13 week Tucson travel assignments as well. Tulsa was experiencing a colder-than-usual winter and after freezing our pipes yet again we decided to pack up for Tucson without my having a contract. It was a gamble, but Greg’s job transferred easily and almost immediately so at least we had that to fall back on. I had some good leads, and had two interviews with a local hospital on our way here, and once we got to Tucson, but that didn’t pan out. You have time for a story? I’ll tell you why so you never make the same mistake. Feel free to skip ahead. 🙂

 

Working with multiple nursing agencies

I normally travel with The Right Solutions, but they didn’t have any job listings in Tucson so I reached out to two other agencies who did- Liquid Agents and They Who Shall Not Be Named. PM me if you really want to know. I hate their guts and livers. Long ago, before we were married G and I thought about travel nursing when we got home from our Round The World Trip, and applied to TWSNBN under my maiden name. I ended up taking a full-time job after our trip, and never ended up traveling with that company. I filled out a new application with them for the Tucson job, and that’s where the trouble started. My recruiter there kept insisting they couldn’t get ahold of my references, and my references kept insisting they had already spoken to someone about me, but they asked about a Jamie with a different last name. I never put two and two together.

A job opening came open through my agency and my recruiter there who is great and super easy to work with (let me know if you want her info)- submitted me. I didn’t hear anything about the position for over a week and in the meantime G and I drove to Tucson. One day while we were driving my recruiter from TWSNBN called me to tell me about that same opening at that same hospital. I told her I had already been submitted for that job by another agency. End of story, right? A few hours later I got a phone call from the ICU director at that hospital, only he asked for Jamie Loftin when he called. I said that was my maiden name and didn’t think anything of it. We had a good interview, but then it seemed strange that after not hearing from the hospital for over a week I suddenly got a phone call a few hours after speaking to TWSNBN and that he asked for Jamie Loftin. He said my agency would be in touch and I asked what agency he was talking about. TWSNBN. To which I replied “Well that’s interesting since I didn’t submit through them.” About two minutes after I got off the phone with him I got a call from my recruiter at TWSNBN and I kid you not, after I said hello she said “I just want you to know you can travel through us and not your other agency if that’s what you want to do.” What in the hell are you talking about? What? I didn’t even know you submitted me. No, I want to travel with the company I know, and who funds my 401k. End of story, right?

A few days later I got another call from the same hospital from the ICU manager this time and did another interview and we had a great conversation, really hit it off. They sent a contract to my agency and mama had some guaranteed income for the next 13 weeks. Hooray! A couple of days later I called the manager back to discuss some potential days off and she was like, “Oh, yeah, we uhhh decided not to send you a contract after all.” WHAT. “Yeah, after I spoke with the ICU director he decided with the maiden name situation and the two agencies submitting you, things just seemed too fishy.” WWWHHHAAATTT. I don’t handle unexpected stress. {Raise your hand if you’ve seen me cry at work} She was super nice about it and I explained the situation and tried to plead my case. She said she’d speak with the director and let me know. When I hung up I immediately burst into livid tears, and emailed the recruiter at TWSNBN to tell her she had no right to submit me without my knowledge or consent, and to withdraw any profile she’s ever submitted for me anywhere, that I would never work with her or her company again ever. Her response? “You knew I submitted you.” And that was it. The hospital withdrew their offer, and in nearly two months that’s the last lead I’ve had in regards to employment.

I have submitted to every hospital with day shift openings in ICU in all of Arizona and southern California, but these areas are highly competitive in winter and I haven’t worked since July. Not exactly a hot commodity. After not hearing anything for weeks and weeks, a recruiter from my other agency told me they had reached out to a hospital in California to see why I hadn’t been getting any phone calls, and they confirmed what I suspected: I am unhirable due to my extended time between contracts.

I knew I was reaching that point, but I didn’t take the news well. Although Greg and I speak of it often, I’m not ready to give up nursing and my income yet. I suddenly felt like nursing was the bad boyfriend I’d been thinking about breaking up with for years who dumped me out of nowhere for someone else. How… dare you… That was my idea. I felt betrayed, and like a real a-hole. I was furious with myself for not taking a job immediately after farming (but we had those Hyatt nights to use!), for bringing TWSNBN into the mix because I couldn’t stand my recruiter before all this, for sitting on and hoping for a potential California strike, for lazing around the camper all day when I could’ve been working part time somewhere. I freaking lost it. I bawled for two days straight. I’m talking couldn’t leave the camper, couldn’t take a shower, couldn’t put a bra or pants on, every time Greg looked at me I’d start again lost it. I didn’t sleep, I just laid there feeling like a piece of poop until I’d start crying again. Financially we’re fine, and obviously Greg has a job, and obviously I have the ability to work somewhere else, and obviously like every other nurse on the planet I’ve thought very seriously about getting out of the profession but because it wasn’t my idea I lost my mind. It was not a good couple of days for me. Or Greg. And he didn’t know how to handle it any better than I did. He just tiptoed around and snuck in a few we’re going to be okays and you don’t have to works, but what I really needed was just for him to hold me and tell me that he loved me in spite of the fact that his Sugar Mama might have reached early retirement, sans pension, and that all we really need is each other. But that’s not easy to express when you’re in the depths of despair so to quote my nephew Alex I finally just stood up, bawling and yelled “NO ONE WILL EVEN HOLD ME!” Worked like a charm. Greg cuddled me and smooched me and reminded me I’m not a piece of poop and that he still loved me even when I wasn’t very likable.

Note: I will continue to work with two travel agencies, but will keep track of who submits me where. Don’t ever let two different agencies submit you to the same hospital. It doesn’t end well. 

 

Get up and put your pants on

That was what I needed. I got up, I got dressed, I opened the laptop and I Binged ‘Tucson hospitals’ and made a list and started finding PRN and part-time jobs. I also started searching jobs at local fancy resorts. You know, so we can double dip into free travel- flights and hotels. Everyone knows I’ll never take another full-time nursing job, so Greg and I agreed that I would apply for a nursing job every day and if I hadn’t heard anything back in x number of days then I was done with nursing for good and we’d get over it and move on.  I got a call in two days from the second hospital I applied to. Get a load of this- it’s a seasonal day CVICU position. A 13 week contract with possible 13 week extension, and I was told some nurses leave and come back, say, every winter. WHAT. This is exactly what Gregory and I dream about- a guaranteed full-time job, but just part of the time. They don’t provide housing, or a stipend, but Old Lady Warcken was pleased as punch to find out she could contribute up to 50% to a 401k.

The only con is that it’s a 50 minute drive from our RV park, the majority of which is through town. And stop lights. OMG the stoplights. I was in tears by the time I got there for the interview because I knew I could not make that commute every day. The thought of all those emissions when it’s 112° out was more than my hippie heart could handle, not to mention the gas money or the fact I like to sleep after work. {I get to sleep at night! With my husband!} p.s. The day I was offered the job, my agency let me know the California strike had been settled and I wouldn’t be needed after all. Meant to be. 

View from the employee parking lot.
A peace garden for employees and hummingbirds.

Let’s make a move

So we made the decision to move closer to the hospital. Only there aren’t any RV parks in the area and the ones that were 20 minutes closer either aren’t open in the summer, or don’t have covered sites. A must, after we melted in Oklahoma last July. I searched VRBO, furnished apartments, and extended stay hotels all over town, and with no luck, until I found our cozy casita (a small house or other building) on Airbnb. It is massively expensive for the Warckens, but not for the area, and we’re nearly halfway between the hospital and the airport.

We live in someone else’s backyard, but have more amenities than we would ever have in a home we actually owned- saltwater pool, hot tub, professional home gym, wifi, Netflix, fire pit, professional landscaping, lemon, lime, and orange trees, a vegetable garden, and now chickens (have you priced eggs lately?!). The neighborhood is amazing- totally wild but in the middle of town and less than a half mile walk to shops and restaurants. All the lots are about an acre and filled with cacti and the houses are quirky, and every night the coyotes’ yipping gets all the neighborhood dogs howling, and every morning I’m greeted by Gambel’s Quail and White-winged Doves and Desert Spiny Lizards.

Our house is furnished, about 500 sq ft, but with little storage compared to the camper. Thankfully our landlord is kind enough to let us store gear in his garage, and use the washer and dryer in his home. As I write all this I’m not sure why I’m complaining about the price- this situation is ideal for our temporary status. And it costs just one overtime shift/month more than what we were paying at the RV park, so that’s easily covered. P.s. He’s got a third house on the property and is looking for other nurses if you’re interested.  

 

Anyone want an RV? Jk, we already sold it

We debated storing our camper for the duration of my contract (and hopeful extension) or driving it back to North Dakota right away, but in the end we knew it wasn’t worth the cost of either of those options. After we went to see the casita to meet the landlord and make sure we’d all be a good fit (he is great), Greg put the camper on Craigslist. Within two hours he had six inquiries, some with offers even though they’d never seen it. Long story short, he sold it to the first person who looked at it for $1000 less than what we paid 2.5 years ago. #stoked. If you ever want to sell an RV, Tucson is a HOT MARKET.

This is definitely not the end of our RV life. Selling ours is a temporary fix for a temporary situation, and when we’re ready we’ll buy another. Or maybe Tucson will be our forever home and we won’t. Who knows? You know how we don’t like to commit to just one place. All we know is that we’re both loving Tucson and neither of us are ready to leave, although G hasn’t seen his first rattlesnake yet, so that might change.

 

I didn’t want to tell anyone about the job until I actually started working because of what happened with TWSNBN, but I just finished my hospital and unit orientations so I think I’m good to go. I’m ready to be let loose on the unit, get into a routine, and show them I’m worthy of an extension. And of course because a new job means a newwwwww BUDGET!! The only thing I’m not excited about is the sign I saw as I walked onto the unit yesterday alerting the public that they are entering a “No-Scent Zone”, and that if they are wearing anything scented they are free to go. WHAT. I know all hospitals say that, but… I have five bottles of Bath & Body Works lotion, just waiting to be slathered on my patients. I’m known for my people (and my person) always smelling good. This is a major adjustment. I hope I can deal.

 

In Greg news, he was offered a promotion about two days after he started working here, so after two stints in Atlanta for training, he’s now training people for the ramp, or ground crew if you will, and is in Idaho for a couple of weeks racking up hotel points and per diems doing just that. I am so very proud of him. Mostly because of the hotel points.

As usual, everything’s workin’ out Warcken. 

8 thoughts on “I Got A Job!

  1. I can’t handle that many highs and lows in one story. It’s a wonder you survived it. I’m super glad you did! ♥️ Enjoy! When I get out of school next December we’ll have to meet up somewhere! Preferably a hotel with a bar… with minimal walking trails! 😂

    1. I think about that all the time. Things certainly seem to always work out for us. I don’t know if it’s luck, or good fortune, or Greg’s PMA (positive mental attitude), but I really think it’s because we control our money, keep life simple, and don’t depend on *things* to make us happy. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish my hot dogs and cheese lunch. Love you too!

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