Post 64 How NOT to ask for a reference

It was always going to be a difficult letter to write.

I'd got on the wrong side of the boss from my very first day in the job.   ‘Report at 9 am to the Administration Department’ the letter had said, which is precisely what I did.   It was scarcely my fault that my new boss had instructed the HR office that I should report to him on the ward at 8.30 am!    And then to be ‘bawled out’ in front of the rest of the staff for being late, without being offered a chance to explain, had been unforgivable.  

Things had gone from bad to worse. The induction programme was a shambles, postgraduate education was virtually non-existent and I was expected to work overtime at short notice without a 'please' or a 'thank you.'

Worse still was his behaviour.    He was short with his patients, rude to his staff and he treated anyone junior to him with contempt.    Furthermore he was racist and sexist.    He once stated quite openly that he would never have appointed me had he realised that Alex could be a girl’s name!

Well, I’d had enough, I could manage without him and I was moving on.   The trouble was that I needed a reference; hence the need to write to him.  I’d already invented a family crisis to explain why I wanted to leave without fulfilling my contract; now I had to thank him for allowing me the ‘privilege of working for him’, for the ‘excellent training and experience’  I’d received under his guidance and supervision and to request his support when applying for jobs in the future. The words would stick in my throat! However, when the need arises, I can be as sycophantic as anyone!!

My second letter to Katie, she was my best friend at college, was a doddle to write.   I actually enjoyed describing what it had been like working for my  'soon to be ex-consultant' and I didn’t mince my words.   He was a self-righteous, arrogant, misogynistic pig.   I told her that his job should be accompanied with a Government health warning and I listed everything that was wrong with him and with his job, lacing it with fruity examples which I exaggerated somewhat for Katie’s benefit.   I knew she would enjoy that.   I even mentioned his nose picking habit and his halitosis.

I discovered that writing this second letter, getting the bitterness and frustration I felt off my chest, was actually therapeutic and feeling much better for expressing my feelings in this way, I addressed both letters and with a spring in my stride went to post them.

Then, having determined to be more diligent when selecting jobs in future, I started to study the adverts in the Journals to look for my next post.

A couple of days later, I got an urgent call from Katie.
‘Alex,’ she said, with some anxiety evident in her voice, ‘you’ve sent me a letter - but its addressed to your boss. You don't think that by mistake you.......’
She lapsed into silence.
‘Oh my God,’ I thought, ‘what the Hell have I done?’

The photographs used are library images and do not represent actual characters


If you enjoyed this short story, you will also enjoy reading ‘All in a Doctor’s Day’. A collection of 45 short stories all with a medical flavour.
The stories lift the lid on the good, the bad and the ugly that I have experienced working for 40 years in the health service.
Some of the stories will make you smile, some will bring tears to your eyes and others have a surprising twist in the tail. They feature patients, doctors and nurses, blood, sweat and toil, heartache and joy.   

 Available from Amazon as paperback or Kindle