Friday, February 26, 2021

Counted Out Without An Apology


After a year of going back and forth with the Chicago Park District regarding the way I was pushed out of the coaching job I had at LaFollette Park, everything has come to an end. As of yesterday, I am no longer officially an employee.

I was given no apology for the park district's antics. Like older people used to say when I was growing up, that would have been too much like right for the Chicago Park District to do. So here I am unemployed again, as I have been on and off ever since I was laid off from the very last full-time job I had back in 2008. LaFollette Park was toxic in terms of environment (I learned that LaFollette was known as a "problem park" not long after I began working there), and I am glad never to have to set foot in that place again. Yet, that was the only job I ever had where I could truly tell people that I loved the work I did.

I played with the idea of volunteering again for the park district like I did for several years at Loyola Park before I became an employee. However, I have a bad taste in my mouth now that I know how the park district operates. Besides, I remember that Sahia, who volunteered in the program at LaFollette, wasn't respected nor treated right many times - mostly by staff - when she helped me out. I knew at least one of the parents was also acting funny towards her because Sahia is not Black.  And Rick, who was very interested in being a volunteer and would have been a great addition, bowed out because of the sabotage he saw being done to the boxing program there from within. 

Since COVID-19 began, the park district's boxing program has taken many blows. As of this writing, several of the field houses that had boxing classes don't at the moment. There was an attempt to have online boxing classes, but I don't think that went over well. 

So...what's next? I'm quarantining at home, as I have been for months. The fact that I'm diabetic doesn't make me a good candidate for hanging out and about. Unless I really can't avoid going somewhere, I don't. I'm glad for Zoom meetings and email. 

As for boxing, I don't know. I have to figure out another way to participate in it. 

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Boxing and A World-Wide Health Issue

The Chicago Park District has been closed since late March. The latest news is that the place will be closed until the end of this month. The spring session was canceled entirely. There are plans to have a shortened summer session, including the summer camp. I don't see how that's going to happen in light of social distancing rules. Regardless of what happens, it's unlikely that I will be allowed to continue there.

Steve, my supervisor, and everybody else noticed me using a cane for a little over three years and seemingly had no problem.  All of a sudden, me being on a cane became an issue. Way back in February of this year, I was ordered to see the company doctor. The doctor released me to go back to work on light duty. Human Resources refused to listen to the doctor's advice nor make an effort to place me elsewhere in the organization.  I've been in limbo ever since the last of my PTO (paid time off) ran out in March.

Not long afterward, COVID-19 rolled through and put everyone's plans on ice.

The boxing world is shut down. Oh, there's a lot of talk about staging pro fights without audiences to cut down on the spread of COVID-19, but in general, the sport is down for the count. The Chicago Golden Gloves were canceled. There's talk of rescheduling that for later this summer, but I have my doubts that will happen this year. However, the way things were going at LaFollette Park during the winter session, I probably would have come up empty-handed again when it came to having participants in the Gloves.

During my self-quarantine, I've been watching a lot of boxing videos online. One of my favorites is The Fight with Teddy Atlas, where the boxing analyst gives his thoughts on the sport. Just today, I saw a video by Shane Fazen where he offers a video sparring session to keep boxers on their game. It appears that the Chicago Park District has given up on me; however, my love of boxing remains. I need to figure out what to do with that love now.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Gym Shut Down Due To Concern

On February 11th, I walked into work as usual. I had barely signed in on my timesheet when Steve had me come into a meeting with him and Colleen, who works in risk management.  Less than 15 minutes later, I was sent home. I was told that the park district has a concern about my health. I've been using a cane for about three years. "Why is there a concern now?" I asked. Colleen claimed not to know, while Steve remained silent. Before being allowed to return to work, I had to see a company doctor.

I saw the doctor, a kindly sort, who upon learning the Chicago Park District does not offer health insurance to most of its part-time employees, gave me information about a sliding-scale clinic near my home. I also finally learned that I have nerve damage in my left leg. It's treatable but the doctor I saw can't take me on as a patient due to conflict of interest. The doctor released me to return to work on light duty.

Upon returning to work the following day, Steve told me that HR had to clear me to return to work. HR claimed there is no light duty for the boxing program. Until I am cleared for full-duty with no restrictions, I'm not allowed to work.

I sent emails back and forth to HR and cc'd both Steve and Colleen about the situation.  I even got the union involved. But still, I have no clarification about the rules and regulations involving me being forced off of work. It appears that no one at CPD, nor the union, is willing to give answers. I've been using my limited sick time and personal days to cover my absence, because, well, I still have to pay bills. Yet the way I was blindsided by this makes me wonder if I'm still considered to be an employee of the park district.

A visit to the doctor at the sliding-scale clinic did not result in a recommendation that I can return to work. On my limited salary, I can't afford to keep paying to see them. This incident has put me into yet another set of shaky financial situations.

Meanwhile, the gym remains closed.  Next week is the end of the winter session. It's too late to gather anyone to get up to speed to participate in the Chicago Golden Glover nor the Chicago City-Wide Boxing Tournament.

I'm angry.