Sunday I got my first flat tire. Luckily I was with a friend who provided moral support AND who happened to have a Sam’s Club membership. I was able to drive my car across the shopping center into Sam’s Club who then fixed the hole in my tire for free! Yes. At Sam’s Club, if you’re a member and get a hole in your tire, it’s always free. Yah Sam’s!

Monday, I met a colleague for lunch at Panera in Oakland PA (Pittsburgh). As my colleague and I walked to my car, I realized my car wasn’t there. Really. Car gone! My first thought was that I was being punked and expected Ashton Kutcher to show up. But then I realized that I’m not famous and that my car really was stolen. Who the heck would steal a Honda Civic 5-speed??? My husband is a police officer so I called him. While trying not to wig-out, someone hollered to me that my car wasn’t stolen – it was towed. Towed?? Why the heck was it towed? I was parked legally. 
I walked back into Panera and talked to the manager who told me that someone saw me park and walk off the property (boo Panera. Not very helpful). You see, the restaurant shares a parking lot with a hotel. Because it’s within the city, people park illegally and so they are hyper-vigilant when looking for “parking criminals.” Apparently the manager announced the car on the loud speaker but my friend and I were in a room off to the side and NEVER heard the broadcast. Whomever “saw” me was either mistaken or was flat out lying! I parked and immediately went into Panera, ordered lunch and chatted with my friend. I was only there for 1½ hours.
The manager was less than helpful (super disappointed in their lack of customer service). She basically gave me the number of the towing company and said, “Call them” which I did.
I was furious! Why? Because I did NOTHING WRONG!!! Somebody else either made a mistake or was lying. There was NO WAY I was going to pay the $180 to get my car from the towing company and I made it perfectly clear to the owner.
While waiting for a call back and as I was trying to calm myself down, it hit me. This is how it feels to be attacked and accused of something when you are completely innocent. I then thought about all of the new nurses who start their first job eager and excited and then get “attacked” by some nurses who “eat them alive”. These new nurses are INNOCENTyet are thrown under the bus by others. So, if you are a new nurse, or heck, even an experienced nurse, how can you avoid getting into “nurse jail”?

If you find yourself wrongly accused or attacked, consider these steps:
1.    Define the crime
Me: “You are accusing me of parking my car and leaving the property. Am I correct?”
You: “Help me to understand (love this script by Stephen Covey) what I’ve done. Are you accusing me of deliberately mistreating this patient (or whatever the situation is)?” 
2.    Proclaim your innocence
Me:  I said repeatedly to the manager and to the Towing Company owner. “I’ve done nothing wrong. I am innocent and don’t deserve to be treated as though I’ve done something wrong.” 
You:  “I’ve done nothing wrong. I am learning and would appreciate your support – not your criticism”. 
3.    “Just the facts Ma’am”
Me:  “I arrived at 12:30pm. Parked and walked straight into Panera, ordered lunch, sat down and didn’t leave the building until 1:50pm. I NEVER left the property. Check your cameras. You will see that I am correct.”
You:  “I just started 3 weeks ago. Although I am learning a lot, there are many things I still need to learn. I’m sure you are not expecting me to know everything in 3 weeks. I need your support – not your criticism.”
4.    Remain calm
The calmer you are, the more likely it is that you will be believed.  Trust me, it was all I could do to hold back the tears and not wig-out but I knew if I wanted to get my car back WITHOUT paying for it, I needed to remain calm.
So do you. If you are being yelled at and openly criticized, remain calm. You may decide to walk away (recommended) or interrupt the screamer. If you feel yourself getting to the point of tears or anger, walk away.
I’m happy to say that I did get my car back WITHOUT paying the $180. As it turns out, the towing company admitted that they made a mistake. Of course they did!!! I got an apology; we shook hands and I got into my car with a newly acquired dent – small but noticeable to me. Oh well. Trying not to sweat the small stuff right?
As a new nurse, you are innocent. Believe in yourself and don’t allow anyone to make you feel like a criminal. Stand up for yourself! Be calm and be respectful – no matter what.
Thanks for reading. I’m hoping I get through the day without any more car troubles!
Take care and stay connected!
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