Today I was in a very long grocery line when a 50-ish year old lady in front of me, turned around and struck up a conversation.

She was asking my about the Muscle Milk that I was about to buy and if I liked that flavor, blah, blah, blah when the conversation took a turn.

She casually mentioned that she had just got back from Arizona where she had completed a 13 week contract.

“Oh, what do you do?” I asked.

“I’m a travel nurse.” She replied.

“Yeah,” she continued, “I don’t recommend becoming a nurse though. I would know, I’ve been one for 37 years.”

I was dumbfounded and curious and horrified and intrigued.

I also could have caught flies, since my jaw was dangling from the temporomandibular joint.

Actual footage of my jaw

Noting my bewilderment she said, “I know, I know, that makes me sound horrible.”

“No.” I exclaimed, after quickly re-hinging my jaw. “I get it. If people knew half the things I thought, they would think I am a horrible person too. No judgement here.”

You see, I had not yet told this lady, I too was a nurse. But that didn’t matter to her, she trudged on talking about in the 13 weeks at that facility.  How she was almost the most senior person there after everyone kept leaving. She said that 35 people had left in the 13 weeks she worked there… wut.

Sheesh! I thought the ER had a high turnover rate… Nevertheless, in true nursing etiquette, she saved the bomb for last.

As she placed her bell peppers and milk on the conveyer belt she told me why she had to become a travel nurse.

You see, 7 years ago, she decided that she wanted to explore other areas of nursing.

Sound familiar? It does to me! One of the reasons I like nursing so much is that you can do different things.

Anyway, for the past 30 years she had worked in various areas of the same hospital  but wanted to work at a level one trauma center of which her current hospital was not. She took a small vacation and then put in applications…

…Then couldn’t get hired… with all that experience… because she would be hired in at the top of the pay scale and, using a term I had never heard before, she called herself a “Budget Buster.”

A WHAT?… budget….buster… YUCK. It even feels like lumpy oatmeal in my mouth when I say it. I was aghast. I mean really, this lady couldn’t get hired because she had “too much” experience and hospitals didn’t want to hire someone at the top of the pay scale???

What the bear

Here is this 50 something year old lady with stellar experience, a family here, a home here, a life here, and she had to take contracts out of state that would have an end date so employers wouldn’t have to pay premium dollar for her long term…

It is safe to say that I learned a major life lesson right there. It’s not just about how much I know or how much experience I have doing something. I have to make sure I don’t put all my eggs in one basket am versatile.

I did not criticize her or make suggestions (as this is my pet peeve) instead I said the obligatory sorry and wished her a good day and she pushed her cart of groceries away.

I want to be able to be a bedside nurse that can write, teach, entertain, and above all BE HAPPY.

If I found out tomorrow that I was without a bedside nursing job, I’d freak. But after I freaked, I would look into what else I could do as a nurse. Case management? Nurse instructor? Writer? Speaker? Management? Anything but unhappy and wishing I had never become a nurse. I hope her next assignment breathes some life back into her, I bet before she lost hope that she was one heck of a bedside nurse.

Stay happy, stay positive, stay versatile and remember how awesome you all are.

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