Ethics In Tech & Lack Thereof

Sleeping Under The Cell Tower

By Vahid Razavi

Another Breakdown

Unfortunately, due to the incessant work stress, my mania came roaring back. I grew fearful of my work computer and digital devices. At 8:00 a.m. on May 11, 2017 I went to Amazon’s San Francisco office to turn in my laptop, as I strongly felt that my boss was monitoring my online activities. I was also certain that I had been followed by Amazon security personnel when I was in the Palo Alto office talking to my boss the previous Tuesday.

Thursday morning as I was trying to return the Amazon hardware, I was picked up outside the office by San Francisco police officers and taken to Dignity Health Saint Francis Memorial Hospital for mental evaluation. At Dignity I repeatedly requested a transfer to Stanford Hospital so I could see my own doctors. Besides, it had been less than three days since I’d been released from Stanford. Dignity Health refused my every request. It was a strange hospital ward; I felt so uncomfortable and harassed. I was chased by other patients. I was locked alone in a room that had anti-Donald Trump graffiti on the nurse’s bulletin board. When I could get out of that room I would push my walker up and down the long hallways for hours on end, going out of my mind (or even more out of my mind than I already was) and trying to find a way out of that Orwellian-named hellhole. The nurse assistants seemed to me to be the only sane people in the whole damned psych ward. I didn’t trust my doctors, or even my nurses. Why should I when they wouldn’t grant my transfer to Stanford Hospital? The food sucked. It was much better in the Serbian mental institution. There you’d get these wonderful Serbian dishes, like burek for breakfast, rich stews or plump, juicy sausages with hearty potatoes for lunch, and delicacies like karađorđeva šnicla — known as the “maiden’s dream” owing to its somewhat phallic resemblance — for dinner. It was really choice fare they fed me in Belgrade, and I waxed nostalgically grateful to my caretakers there once faced with the soulless sustenance served up at Dignity “Health.”

I was transferred without my consent to the inpatient psychiatric ward, where I was initially held on a 5150 — California legal code for the temporary, involuntary psychiatric commitment of individuals who present a danger to themselves or others due to signs of mental illness. This was followed by a 5250, which permits involuntary commitment for up to two weeks; I was held for nearly 14 days. Dignity Health is the eighth-largest medical care provider in the United States, yet when it comes to the psych ward, they provide neither much dignity nor much health to their patients, based on my personal experience there. I’ve never been in a hospital room tagged with graffiti before. What’s more, the patient handbook and privacy policy had not been updated for decades and was dated 2002. I asked the doctors to remove the writing from the walls as I found the presence of graffiti to be offensive, repugnant, and utterly incongruous with what one imagines a hospital experience should be; I suspect my placement in that particular room was meant to provoke a negative reaction from me.

On my last day in the psych ward, the graffiti was removed.

After finally getting discharged from Dignity Health I immediately went back to AWS offices and turned in my computers and my USB sticks. The following week I checked myself into Stanford University psychiatric ward for further evaluation. During that time period Amazon surprisingly approved my long-term medical leave. The reason they gave for the approval was the same rationale they’d previously cited to deny me benefits: psychological disability. I was now approved for long-term leave, but only for two years. My last operation was November 29, 2017. I talked to my Stanford doctors and they did not believe it was in my best interest, healthwise, to work in such a stressful, backstabbing environment as I suffered through at AWS.

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