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Monday, February 14, 2022

White Whale

Episode Two Hundred Eighty: White Whale.
In which we vindicate.

1 comment:

  1. One of the last strips made in my final days as a contractor at the FQHC, where I had worked for over three years - first as an employee, and then as contractor (in a pointless attempt to gain clarity of purpose). This spells out why I left, and yet, even as strongly as I feel about it, I still am only able to voice the reason here in the (thinly veiled) code of the last frame. (Worded in a hyperbolic 'Victorian posted bill' language.)

    My step father was under the care of the FQHC's MD CEO, the doctor who, in the 70's, founded that health center, and has run it since. My step father died in 2002, in his mid sixties, of a heart condition that his children felt was mis-cared for by that doctor. They hold that his death is the result of negligence, and that, had he been under another doctor's care, he would still be alive today.

    After three years of watching that doctor control meetings with an infantile threat of tantrum-throwing, place dysregulated and unqualified people in key positions of authority, and refuse to realistically analyze workflow (or even discuss job descriptions), and subsequently allow the practice to fall into entropic misery, I had to come to the conclusion that my ex-wife and her siblings were correct: that doctor was responsible for the death of my step father.

    During that three years I was asked to accommodate many questionable business practices, including being asked to cover up (in the EMR database) the negligent behavior of practitioners there who, unable to get staff support from an overwhelmed staff, were falsifying patient visit reports. I spoke with a dozen staff members who had similar patient safety concerns but who were afraid to report them for fear of the response from the top.

    For three years I struggled with this and tried to get persons in authority to acknowledge the organization's failings, but I only hit brick walls and was labeled as having an 'attitude problem'. In the end, I simply had to leave.

    My step father had written his dissertation on Moby Dick. He was very much into First-Nation/Ancient cosmologies, and particularly in how the labyrinth image functioned as a psychological symbol in Jungian studies. My journey as an employee/contractor at that FQHC culminated in the realization that this all came together for me, that at the center of my own career's labyrinth was the realization that trying to address the patient safety concerns with this physician was my own White Whale; that there was no positive solution; that I had to walk away. To continue to seek resolution was, as it was for Ahab, a fruitless quest that could only lead to ruin. And so, that realization gave birth to this comic.

    I think it works well. The first frame, of course, from Melville's Moby Dick (1851) - a realization of the revenge oath, and a statement that seals Ahab's fate.

    The second frame from the tv show Mr. Robot (2015). This is a small-square tile mosaic that hangs in Elliot's room, and I suspect it echoes an internal map. In the 'resolved/happy' universe near the end of the series, it hangs in portrait-view in the apartment hallway. I'm unsure if there's a significance to this (there probably is), but it reminds me of the Roethke lines "Dissection is a virtue when / It operates on other men." I.e., that 'inner self' map becomes less of a labyrinth when Elliot removes it from his home.

    The third frame a copy of the Knossos' Classical representation of the Labyrinth, as depicted on Cretan coin from 400 BCE.

    And the fourth, as I have mentioned, a hyperbolic alarm warning in the style of a Victorian bill posting about the unspeakable crime still ongoing.

    I guess the point, if there is one, is that if you realize you're in a toxic work environment, you have to get out.

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