Dear Elderly Aunt, I really love your advice column and I hope you can help me. A co-worker had a medical situation while on shift with me. I called the emergency squad because I didn’t know how to handle it and she wasn’t immediately responsive. It turns out she has a chronic medical condition, which I didn’t know about. And she’s angry at me for calling the paramedics, which she views as an over-reaction. Apparently some, but not all, people we work with knew about the condition. I was not one of them. I think it’s incredibly selfish that she didn’t tell everyone about her condition, and I don’t understand why she’s so mad. Was I wrong to call the paramedics? What should I do now because I still have to work with this person? Thank you in advance for your advice.
Just to be clear: You say a work colleague collapsed on the job and was unresponsive when you tried to rouse her, so you immediately summoned medical assistance.
If that’s really how it went down, then the Elderly Aunt is truly puzzled by your colleague’s reaction. Because she had not told you about her “chronic medical condition,” did she just expect you to step over her and get on with your day?
One of the Elderly Aunt’s Golden Rules of Personal Responsibility is that each of us is responsible for communicating to others that which we want them to know. It follows that your colleague is—to borrow a very young friend devastatingly dismissive descriptive—a dumb-dumb sillyhead for assuming you would know something about her she hadn’t bothered to tell you.
As for work awkwardness, the only thing the Elderly Aunt can suggest is that you take a cue from The Sopranos and continue going about your own cheerful, level-headed business secure in the knowledge that you’ve got nothing to apologize for.
Unless, of course, your colleague’s dumb-dumb sillyhead behavior escalates to the point that this becomes impossible, in which case you should document her disruptive behavior and appeal to management.
The Elderly Aunt offers her thoughtful responses to your questions about this wild ride we call life on every other Monday. And as a general disclaimer—to quote the elves from The Lord of the Rings — “… advice is a dangerous gift, even given from the wise to the wise.”
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