Lord of the Flies

My supervisor is out sick for the week and we have four other people going to urgent care tomorrow. We have vertigo, a sprained ankle, cysts and monster spider bites getting infected.

We have had someone taking a sick day everyday since we’ve been here, including my panic attack last week.

I’m in charge for the week, and it’s been interesting coordinating everything. Today I got to take someone to the pharmacy to pick up a medication during work, which was pretty nice. The perks.

Coordinated our resume building meeting tonight, and it went pretty well. We had tea and coffee with it.

D is looking into Obama’s program, My Brother’s Keeper, which is a mentor program for inner city youth. Really excited for him.

J, D and I were in our room talking tonight, and D asks us about destiny. And if we were all supposed to meet. And how when he first met us, he thought we were the last people he was going to be friends with. J gets all sassy and sarcastic with him after that, and it was the most awkward and adorable thing. She’s standing in the doorway with a cookie in her hand yelling, “Get out.” D is cracking up but also scared shitless.

We talked about how much we’ve changed this year already, how we’re changing each other. And how much more time we have together to learn and grow and challenge ourselves.

Have to take a phone call from my unit leader back on campus daily while my supervisor is out. And every day I talk to him, no fail, the rooster starts screaming and initiating a wake up call.

Talking over a rooster.


We’re reaching our team breaking point, I feel like.

I’m not sure why, because this is the nicest, easiest place we’ve lived and worked yet. Back in Silver Falls, we would get up at 5:30 am, leave for work by 6 in the freezing cold, and then arrive at work an hour and a half later at 7:30. We would begin work at 8, and then get off at 4:30. Then we would drive the hour and a half commute back home in the dark and the cold, slightly terrified the whole way with the ever winding and vertical roads, as well as the danger of black ice.  Usually we would have to stop and run errands on the way home, so that added an hour or two to our travel time, and we arrived home around 6:30 or 7. Then we would have our hour long physical training three of the five workdays a week, and then after that someone would “fix dinner,” getting food in our bellies around 9 or 9:30 at night. A lot of times we had one more spontaneous meeting after that, and then we would all fall asleep and do it all over again.

And now.

Now all we have to do is walk five minutes down the street to work.

We do physical training in the mornings before work, so we’re up and moving around 6:30. And then we are done with work at 5:15.

And by that, I mean done with work, and dinner is also prepared and ready for us to eat at the community dining hall five minutes walk away at 5:30 on the dot nightly.

Except Fridays. On Fridays dinner is ready for us at 4:30 in the afternoon. We start work an hour earlier, so that we can eat an hour earlier. Then we have our house meeting after dinner, and are done for the weekend by 6 pm.

BUT. We have not all worked together a single day since we’ve gotten here.

I think it started when Sydney sprained her ankle the first day here, while we were getting our tour.

She obviously couldn’t prune trees for the next two weeks. So she stayed home and did data entry for our sponsors.

But none of us ever took sick days in Silver Falls, and I don’t think we even realized that we could take sick days.

And so now that we realized you could, or could at least do different work if you were not feeling well, it’s been a shit storm of various problems.

I had my panic attack on Wednesday, and I think that’s where it all began. I took the afternoon off, because I was about to quit if I didn’t.  But then later that night certain people were talking about how we need “mental health days” off. Then, conveniently, those two were sick the next two days in a row.  Which were probably not justified, but how do you argue with someone who’s claiming to be sick? Anyway, it wasn’t my call, as our team leader was still in charge. Then she got sick, the day after we cleaned out that barn with tornadoes of dust all around.

I knew that situation was not okay, especially for our team leader, as they have severe asthma.

Anyway, they (our team leader is gender neutral, so asks to be referred to as they, them and their) blamed it on the squash we eat at dinner nightly. They lost their voice completely, and all their strength. I called bullshit, and now they’ve been diagnosed with the flu.

So they have the flu, and severe asthma. Been out for a week and a half with a “virus” according to one of the doctors in town. And now has the full on flu. And is not supposed to be out of bed for the next week. And not supposed to drive either. Even though they still do.

So we’re looking at least one more week without our team leader, which is fine with most of us. But it’s going on three weeks. Almost forgetting what it was like to have them.

So they went out sick, and everyone realized that all you have to do is claim sickness, and you’re out of work for the day.

And we have those weird spider bite/cyst/flea bite on two people’s legs. Now maybe four. And we’re not sure what it’s about, and the doctors are all saying different things. And the people that live here have no idea what’s going on with us either.

So Syd and I have been in charge while our team leader is out. Syd is only 18, so I’ve taken over as leader pretty much, and she does the paperwork side of things.

But I didn’t realize we were in full charge until halfway through this week. I was still letting our bedridden team leader make the calls, and they were letting people stay home sick who we all knew were bullshitting it a little bit.

So I started checking on the sick people last week, and when I came back and saw one of them walking out smoking a cigarette, I said he needed to get back to work. His problem was the spider bites on his legs, but he was obviously fine enough to walk outside to smoke.

He’s a little shit, but a loveable one. But I hate that I feel like he was lying to me now. Even though it was my team leader’s call to let him stay home for four days in a row, I still checked in on him regularly, and he lied straight to my face. Which sucks. Because I am stepping in for the team leader, but I’m also his teammate. And we’re supposed to be like family, not lying and cheating one another.

And then I’ve got a running dialogue from another team member for the past few days on the updates from the depths of his bowels. And as of the past few days, I have become the authority on letting people go home sick. And he didn’t have anything wrong at the moment, so I said he needed to come to work. He’s one of those people who hypothesize all the things that they think might be going wrong with them, that they convince themselves they actually are sick. When really they just don’t want to stand in an orchard in the 75 degree heat all day looking up.

So I called his bullshit a few days in a row and made him come, but finally yesterday had heard enough and let him go home. And now he’s in Ukiah having a great day out like he’s been wanting to do all week. Not sick enough to miss out on that, apparently.

So I’m just tired of people stepping on me, I guess.

They complain about our team leader, we all do, because they don’t take our feelings into consideration. But then when they have someone like me as a leader, certain few people take advantage of that.

On the whole, the team has been great. They respect me, and I respect them. But now I’m realizing I don’t need to give quite as much respect and credit to the people that used manipulation the past few days.

Honestly, all the girls on this team are kick ass.

All the guys on the team are falling apart.

My friend J has been having vertigo, which is super scary shit. But she’s showed up to work everyday this week. And just asked for different work to accommodate. She’s weeded the garden instead of looking up at the tree branches.

And Syd worked all the way through her sprained ankle.

And then we have these three boys who just cannot get it together. And take every opportunity to look out for themselves and screw the rest of the team over.

Which sucks.

I mean, it’s not just me they are disrespecting when they don’t show up for work.

It’s our whole team, that has to pull the weight for them.

Anyway. They’re not going to get anywhere in life like that, so I’m not really that disturbed. My week and a half of leadership has taught me a lot of things, and I think I have a good handle on how to lead a group and make quick, firm decisions.

But I definitely will look out more next time for the possibility of manipulators.

And I’m not going to give those people the time of day anymore.

The rest of my team was absolutely brilliant, and made me feel really empowered and useful as a leader. They liked having someone in charge who wasn’t as uptight as we usually have, but kept things moving faster and more efficient.

We keep good track of ourselves in general as a team, hold one another accountable. The people who crapped out this week were the usual suspects, and honestly it happens all the time, not just when we have a power vacuum. It just feels different when it is directed at you, when you are the authority.

So it’s probably good for me to get to see that side of them.

On the whole, though. Our team is about to fight.

We haven’t really had any team fights in the past four months of knowing one another. We’ve been through a lot of shit, and didn’t want to pile more shit on top of that. So we were just really supportive of on another.

Which brings me full circle to what I was trying to say at the beginning of this long, long post. Is that, when times were hard, team dynamics were easy. Now that things are easy, team dynamics are going to start getting hard. We’re all too comfortable now, and getting greedy for more.

I think it will be healthy for us to fight, honestly. We’ve got a lot we need to work out, that we’ve just ignored up until now because we are all easygoing, people pleasing people.

Today we get a new team leader, she’s driving up from Sacramento today. Because we are not supposed to be without an official team leader who is paid three times as much as us. Because that is what the job deserves.

So this will be odd. Syd and I have to meet with her to brief her on how we do things here, and how we work as a team.

If our team leader doesn’t get better soon though, they have to go on medical leave. Which means that we get a permanent new leader.

My team brought me cake.

Our house also might have fleas.


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