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This Tech Found Her Dream Job, but Day 1 Began With a List of Rules That Seems Ridiculous

Should she stay or should she go?




TERI HAD WORKED as a technician for a few years but didn’t love the office she was in and always had her eye out for a position at one that would be a better fit for her. One day a technician position at a dream office near her home opened up. She applied, went through a competitive interview process, and ultimately received an offer for the position.


Real Deal scenarios are inspired by true stories but are changed to sharpen the dilemmas involved and should not be confused with real people or places. Responses are peer-sourced opinions and are not a substitute for professional legal advice. Please contact your attorney if you have any questions about an employee or customer situation in your own business.


Carissa Dunphy has been working in private practice optometry since 2008 and is the founder of Optician Now ( Follow Carissa on Instagram and Facebook at @opticiannow.

“Welcome, Teri,” Jan, the office manager, said as she greeted Teri on her first day.

“Thanks, I’m excited to be here,” Teri responded.

“I know you’ve been a technician for a while. What made you want to switch offices and come here?” Jan asked.

“This office has been on my radar for a while.” Teri continued, “The doctors here are very highly respected in the community as being top-notch and I’ve never heard a patient, in-person or online, speak poorly about the office. I’m pretty sure my old office lost many patients to this place.”

“Ha! Well, that’s good to hear,” Jan said, smiling. “A large part of why we’re so good is because we have a rule book that acts as our bible. It is very important to the owners that every employee master everything in the manual. Here is your copy—do your best to absorb it all as soon as possible.”

Teri took the employee manual from Jan, “I’ll start right now.”


The first two pages had two columns: words to never say and the words to say instead.

“For real, two pages of words we can’t say?” Teri remarked.

Jan replied, “Yes. If you’re heard saying them, the first time is somewhat forgiven with a death stare. After that, you’re walking on lava. Two in one day… well…

Have you seen The Devil Wears Prada?”

“Yes, I have,” Teri said, “and I completely understand. I will memorize this ASAP.”

“Over the years we have had many new employees not survive their first week,” Jan offered. “We’re spoken highly of and this is how we do it.”

Teri continued to read the manual and completed the first section for all staff members. There were additional sections for the roles of each person in the office.

Jan added, “I would read each section to get familiar with it, even if it’s not your job. Just be sure to memorize your parts.”

“Will do,” Teri answered as she continued to read.

Teri read that the doctors could not leave before completing their charting for that day, and that included all referrals and chart notes to other providers. They also had to spell and grammar-check everything they charted. She read that the opticians were never to sell polycarbonate and that they were to have all orders checked in and notified prior to opening each day. The technicians had the most excessive way that they were required to disinfect instruments and exam rooms, and particular ways to store the caps and covers for instruments.

She quickly became overwhelmed and thought to herself that all of these things seemed impossible and wondered how many hours each staff member had to work to meet these rules.


The Big Questions

  • Should these job specifics have been reviewed during the interview process to inform prospective candidates or would that scare potential hires away?
  • Is it realistically achievable to enforce these rules and sustain a full staff?
  • What would you do if you found yourself in Teri’s position once you started your “dream job?”
John E.
El Paso, TX

Can I get a copy of this manual?

Rick R.
Girard, PA

1. Would that scare potential new hires away? I started to run just reading it.
2. Absolutely, positively not. No way in bloody hell.
3. Run like somebody lit my bum on fire.

Lori E.
Citrus Heights, CA

Our first thought is that the “Rule Book” should at least have been presented during the job offer. If the “Rule Book” scares candidates then they were not a good fit to begin with. It seems that you would need a full-time worker just to police your trusted employees, and that it would create an environment of accusations among co-workers. If in Teri’s position, we would at least try to learn the rules but would be guarded. P.S. We are dying to know the words listed in the rule book!!

Pablo M.
Atlanta, GA

There is value in having rules in the workplace, and there is also value in having procedures on how to do a particular job. That value is to create expediency and uniformity. When the rules become too inflexible and overwhelming, there is something very wrong. Teri should look at whether these rules actually serve a purpose or are just to satisfy the office manager’s control fetish. If the rules don’t pass the sanity test, she should run. Fast and far.

Emily C.

Starting a new job is always intimidating. I believe however that the important things should have been pointed out during the interview process so candidates know what to expect on the first day and aren’t blindsided. I believe there would be a lot of pushback from new employees when they realize the rules for this office. If this were me, I would try it and see what can be possible, but don’t think it would be a good fit. I work better when I have some flexibility and don’t have someone looking over my shoulder all the time. Makes for some uncomfortable situations if you ask me.

Emily C.
Charlotte, NC

Starting a new job can always be intimidating with not knowing the procedures and staff. I do believe however that the more important things should have been pointed out during the interview process so that each candidate can know what to expect on the first day and not be blindsided by certain things. I think that some of the rules mentioned are great and some are not. Opticians should not be limited to what they can and can’t sell, as it’s always what is in the best interest of the patient and their needs. I do believe that there would be a lot of pushback from new employees when they realize what the rules are for this office. If this were me I would try it and see what can be possible, but I don’t think it would be a good fit for me. I work better when I can have some flexibility and not have someone watching my back all the time at work. Makes for uncomfortable situations if you ask me.

Chris D.

I would need more information about the interview process before diving deeper. Maybe Teri didn’t realize how serious this Bible was or maybe nothing was mentioned. Either way they are running a very tight ship. They hold everyone to the same standards and the attribute their success to this. Teri came across as willing to tackle this. If overwhelmed she needs to seek a mentoring the office to keep her on track and learn all she needs to be successful. If they don’t provide adequate training or mentoring then their expectations at be too high, for Teri.

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