I was fired by the APHL for bringing a bicycle to a national meeting in a convention center

No regrets renting and talking about it

In my last heartbreaking failure, I was fired by the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) for bringing my rental bike into the APHL Newborn Screening Symposium 2022 hosted by the Newborn Screening Technical Assistance and Evaluation Program (NewSTEPs) on Sunday, October 16 at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center. Or, perhaps more accurately, I was fired by APHL contractor Insight Global for discussing bicycle safety at the APHL Newborn Screening Symposium 2022 at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center in a manner that, although social distancing was maintained and the only threats made were APHL staff against my rental bike, was not acceptable to the APHL. Anyway, some idiots working in public health who care about future generations fired me for bringing a bike to their national meeting at a convention center.

NewSTEPs is publicly funded largely by the Health Resources and Services Administration as part of national efforts to maintain and upgrade health data portals, access and utility. These are great programs that exemplify good government, but there are still fools involved who fire people for bringing a bike to a national meeting at a convention center. APHL has failed to work in a modern urban setting. Coming back to babies, where the focus should be, newsteps.org is outdated and unprepared for next-gen newborn screening. NewSTEPs five-year funding cycle will be submitted/approved in the coming months. Is Newsteps.org hosted by APHL the best we can do?

It took me hours and hours of phone calls over several days and weeks to find this bike rental. It finally arrived in the final days of Lone Pine Adventures, in Tacoma and Gig Harbor, run with the generous support of Old Town Bicycle. I have no idea of ​​their political affiliations. I only know that the kind owner runs a worthy business, burdened with huge insurance costs in a car-infested America. They rent quality bikes in the South Sound area. They work to stay afloat while the owner’s nursing wife gives them plenty of support. Among the details discussed on the phone prior to arrival, I promised Lone Pine that I would not lock the bike outside unattended in Tacoma.

Once in Tacoma, the meeting was great. I cried much of the first day as I met people who gave life and hope through newborn screening, as well as thinking of my own family and our physically and mentally challenged sister. The organizers of the APHL and NewSTEPs did a good job except for the neglect of bike safety and the intolerance of bike safety conversations at a national meeting in a convention center . I would have liked to provide more warnings on the bike, but please see the paragraph above, and the organizers were so busy. You could have honored my request to speak directly with the convention center staff. You could have talked to me anytime after that 5 minute conversation, but you chose the HR route. Great professional culture including NewSTEPs and APHL.


Here’s what happened, if I remember correctly.

I flew and took the $3.25 bus from SeaTac to Tacoma, on which I also paid the fare of a cashless person right in front of me who happened to be returning from a conference Pathology Fellowship in Sydney to join her participating spouse our the APHL Newborn Screening Symposium 2022. Lone Pine Adventures dropped the bike off with me in front of the Murano Hotel (teal roof light great for navigation, BTW).

It was afternoon and the meeting had started, so I headed to the convention center as soon as I was ready. I disassembled the bike outside, walked in with it, and sought to speak to the staff at the convention center, visible in black and white, to inquire about bike storage. If they couldn’t provide secure bike storage, I wanted them to pass the request on to the management chain for future events.

Before I joined them, the APHL staff walked up to me and we started with distant co-worker greetings. We talked about the bike. They told me it was not allowed in the convention center. I acknowledged that the bike would probably end up in my hotel room and asked that they let me discuss it with the staff at the convention center.

Soon there was concern about taking care of members and time. I said I could take care of the bike and tried to continue with the convention center staff. I always wanted the convention center to be aware of cycling and my request for secure bike storage.

Before this conversation with an APHL staff member was over, another APHL staff member approached and became involved. They reiterated that bikes were not allowed inside. I tried to make sure they knew I wanted my request for secure bike storage to go through management.

I inquired about leaving the bike in an organizer’s break room. I also asked what would happen if I left the bike in an unused room. I was told by an APHL staff member that they take unattended bikes outside and drop them off on the street. I responded by asking if they had an unattended bag policy. No answer. I repeated my question. They said it was different. In an understatement, I said it was similar and neither I nor the owner of the $1000 bike would appreciate a bike being treated so harshly.

By then, several APHL staff had gathered. None of them expressed sympathy towards cycling or my situation. Nobody thought about the painful plantar fasciitis I told them about in previous meetings. I felt belittled by the APHL staff who intercepted me and tried to prevent a civil and respectful conversation. I felt compelled to quietly comply with their disdain for bringing a bike to a national meeting at a convention center. I repeated that I had tried to extricate myself from the conversation and they kept it going. I sincerely apologized for taking the three minutes (5 maybe) it took for our conversation about a bike and took the bike to my hotel room after a brief and respectful conversation, as I wished, with the staff of the convention center.

I commented on the meeting here.


That was it. I left shaken and wondering if I should apologize for the way I looked, but never for what I said. I see no reason to apologize for biking, being passionate about it, or anything I said at the Tacoma Convention Center on October 16th.

That was the last I heard of the encounter until 4 p.m. on Friday, October 29, when a representative from the contractor called me to tell me that I had been fired as I was finishing an afternoon of connecting the DB to R at the start of production of R Shiny dashboards.

I was doing this because the need for dashboards is well known in my old team at APHL, and I had time while waiting for the correct configurations for my development environment from the website contractor .

I have contributed to R Shiny work and run R Shiny servers, as well as RAILS, Django and GMOD tools in Apache and Nginx systems. I know a little about what exists. Your current technology and database will not reduce Next Generation Newborn Screening, newsteps.org and APHL.

APHL obviously doesn’t appreciate my advice. For the sake of infants, I hope that they or future managers of infant screening data will find the will to transition to the technology, platforms and tools capable of handling next-generation newborn screening. Take a look at newsteps.org for yourself and see how ready it is for omics, computing, messaging, or other modern technologies. Try not to think about their disaster recovery or business continuity. Do babies with treatable rare diseases deserve? I tried to help, but I was not well received at the APHL.

Maybe I’m wrong about the reasons for the shooting. Perhaps it was my inability to show up for a meeting at 7 a.m. on Monday. It was stupid. I checked my schedule around 7:30. I made it to the rest of the meetings though. Even moved chairs in a crowded room. Maybe I got fired for too much of my untimely dry sarcasm. I never heard a word about it, but it could be due to my opaque density to messaging.

Anyway, no one at APHL helped me figure it out. It wasn’t my job or my effort. No one expressed dissatisfaction with my production, other than shared frustration with my lack of a development environment for the required workspaces. Even then, I was backed with 100 hours of orientation granted, of which I only used a handful.

My only indications of my termination are that my work was received with satisfaction and encouragement, and the APHL asked the recruiter to tell me that I had been terminated following a heated conversation the previous week. There were no other heated conversations, and the one about bringing a bicycle into a convention center during a national meeting could have been far more controversial. I complied with whatever they wanted except closing my mouth just when they wanted it to close.

In short, APHL handled my situation with complete and unprofessional disregard for the organization, the company, or me personally, likely all in accordance with HR and legal advice.

It is sad to think how much I trusted and confided in my colleagues at APHL. Does anyone out there appreciate that I tried to share my best work with you? Of course not, I said it wrong, apparently.

If you learn from mistakes with me, APHL, then get the next developer set up with a code-contributing development environment ASAP. Once again, I forget that the APHL does not take my advice into account.

Here is another suggestion for my immediate supervisor at APHL. If you’re looking for an intelligent conversation about agriculture, there’s no point in starting with food shame. In the unlikely event that you are serious about food, then I will ask why is this store bought meat not acceptable to you? Where should people get protein? There have been many good conversations about such things at Daily Kos over the years. I highly recommend each of the Anti-Capitalist Meetup writers for insightful discussions.

Funny thing is, food shaming happened at the same meetings where I was fired for bringing a bike to a national meeting at a convention center. Even more hilarious are the repeated calls from the APHL to recruit tech specialists as they fire me, and my three decades of experience bringing a bike to a national meeting at a convention center. . Really forward thinking there, APHL.

Finally, I will never work for the APHL again, but I still want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the widespread need for reconciliation and the great work of groups such as Fellowship of Reconciliation.

Now for some Jerry.

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