The one coworker I can’t live without


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If someone were to ask me (and someone obviously has) which of my coworkers I’d have a hard time living without, it would take me some thought to answer.

Is it Martinez, the resident who always has time to answer questions and brainstorm? Is it Kristen, another nurse, who competently and calmly yanks my posterior out of the various slings I get it into? How about any one of the pharmacists, who never act irritated when I call with yet another question about some crazy-obscure drug and its possible interactions with another crazy-obscure drug?

All of those people are important, yes. All of them have talents or knowledge that I don’t have, and are happy to help answer questions or pick up the pieces when my head explodes. Put all of ‘em together, though, and you still don’t have one Lisa.

Lisa has worked at Sunnydale General almost as long as I have. She manages part of the housekeeping staff now, having worked her way up from being a part-time housekeeper on the floors. I couldn’t do my job without her, and I am not kidding when I say that.

If I need a room turned around in the unit in 10 minutes, Lisa will send somebody who can get it done in eight, or come do it herself. If a patient has one of those Body Fluid Disasters that they sometimes do, Lisa will take care of it with minimal fuss and no embarrassment to the patient. And if I’m a genius and manage to spill an entire cup of coffee down my front an hour into my shift, she has a pair of scrubs handy in my size. (Plus, she keeps a stash of extra toilet paper. That’s invaluable.)

We used to complain to each other about our respective managements. She always said that if she ever got to be a manager, things would change—and they have. Even though she’s as short-staffed as the rest of us, she manages somehow to make sure people aren’t spread as thin as they used to be. Housekeepers don’t get hurt as often as they used to because they now have different, better equipment that limits the number of step stools they have to climb and the amount of bending they have to do. Things run more smoothly now and people are happier.

I would feel it if the pharmacy disappeared into a hole in the ground. I would miss Martinez if he went someplace else, and I’d be hobbled without the other nurses on the unit. If Lisa weren’t there, though, work in my unit would grind to a halt within a week.

What’s amazing to me is that nobody seems to notice what she does. That’s a sure sign that you’re doing your job well—if things just work without drama or difficulty.

So, who is it that YOU couldn’t live without?

Agatha Lellis
Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at

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