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Dial 7 For Murder

, , , , , | Right | January 13, 2022

I work in a residential group home for individuals with physical disabilities. By some odd coincidence, our office phone number is only different from our local hospital by one number: a one instead of a seven. This would be only a little annoying, with the usual amount of mistaken calls, except that the hospital’s website uses a font that makes ones and sevens look almost identical. Since I know exactly what the problem is, and I know the number that people actually want, it’s normally a quick five-second exchange each time I get someone asking for lab work, a patient room number, or a doctor’s name.

Not this time.

I was working one day when the phone rang, and I answered it with my usual spiel.

Me: “Hello, [Agency], this is [My Name] at [Facility]. How may I help you?”

An older lady replies.

Caller: “Hello, I’m calling for [Doctor]. My husband had a test last Thursday and I need to know what the results are.”

It’s obvious what happened.

Me: “Ah! I’m sorry, but I think you’re trying to reach [Local Hospital]. Their number is just one off from us. You need to call [correct number].”

The woman on the other end seems to acknowledge me and hangs up. A few seconds pass and the phone rings again. I think to myself, “It couldn’t be…”

Me: “Hello, [Agency], this is [My Name] at [Facility]. How may I help you?”

Caller: “Yes, hello? I’m trying to reach [Doctor]’s office because I need to know the results of—”

I cut her off at this point, trying very hard not to learn any medical information I shouldn’t know.

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but this is still the wrong number; you need to call [correct number] for the hospital.”

Caller: “I’m not trying to call the hospital; I’m trying to call [Doctor] about the results of [test]!”

I’m surprised by her sudden aggression, but I assume she just didn’t understand. I now regret that.

Me: “Ma’am, this is a residence, not a hospital. We don’t have any doctors here and we don’t do testing of any kind. Please call [correct number].”

She hangs up then, and I hope for the best. A few minutes pass, and then, of course, the phone rings again. I see the caller ID and groan.

Me: “Hello, [Agency], this is [My Name] at [Facility]. How may I help you?”

Caller: *Practically screaming* “You need to train your people better and get me [Doctor] right now! This is inexcusable treatment! Your idiot staff has been trying to give the runaround and I’ve had it!”

I’m not paid to do customer service, and I have clients who need help, and I’m fed up.

Me: “Look, lady, I can’t make this any more clear. You need to call [correct number]. We. Are not. A hospital.”

She screams something unintelligible and hangs up. A full ten minutes pass until the phone rings again. I recognize the caller ID and consider letting it go to voicemail.

Me: “Hello, this is still [Agency], this is still [My Name].”

Caller: “What are you people doing there? I need my husband’s test results and the little Mexican boy keeps giving me this number and I know this is the right number!”

I take a second to try and process that, trying to think if she’s calling someone else in between calling me.

Me: “Ma’am, this is a residential facility with no doctors and no ability to run tests of any kind. Please, look up the correct phone number for whoever you are trying to reach, and stop calling here.”

Caller: “You’re murderers! All of you are murderers! I need help and you’re murdering my husband!”

Me: “Ma’am, I cannot help you. Call the hospital, and they will be able to do something.”

The woman just shouted “Murderer!” once more before slamming the phone down. Fortunately, she didn’t call again. I do hope her husband got whatever he needed in time, but I have my doubts.

Simon Says…

, , , , , , | Right | November 12, 2021

This happened back in the 1990s. For a couple of years, during the summer, I did residential voluntary work at a charity holiday home for the elderly and disabled, until the charity sadly had to sell the property. It was the opportunity for couples and individuals to go away for two weeks and have other people help look after them.

There were a lot of volunteers, and we were each assigned to one or two guests to provide as much help as they needed throughout the day and night. We were also expected to help other guests if their volunteers were not available. There was always at least one fully trained nurse or doctor on the premises at all times.

It was hard work, but I loved every minute of it… except possibly that time I was woken up at 2:00 am by the nurse to help change my guest’s sheets, as they were urine-soaked. He’d not wet the bed, but the idiot who emptied his catheter the evening before had forgotten to close the tap. But before anyone says the nurse should have woken up the idiot and gotten him to clear up the mess, I can assure you she did. Let’s just say that half-asleep me soon woke up and was very apologetic. Both the guest and his wife were all right about it; it wasn’t the first time that had happened to them, and I made certain I didn’t do that again!

To say this next thing was an annoyance would be a massive overstatement. It was more a mild frustration that quickly become a bit of a running joke: no one could remember my name. We all had name badges — those plastic types with a removable card. Mine clearly said, “Stephen”, but I was always called “Simon”. Everyone else was called by the right name, but for some reason, no one could remember mine.

I didn’t get cross, nor did I blame anyone. It could be because of their eyesight or memory; that’s hardly their fault. I did always politely correct them, which worked briefly, but by the next time they saw me, I had reverted back to being Simon. One of the biggest “offenders” was a lovely gentleman who was recovering from a stroke. It was all taken in good humour, but I really did want people to stop calling me Simon.

So, after a day or two of this, I removed the card, turned it over, and wrote, “NOT SIMON”. And it worked! They stopped calling me Simon!

Everyone — the staff, the volunteers, and the guests (especially Lovely Recovering Stroke Chap) — happily called me “Not Simon” instead. Ah, well.

And as an epilogue, LRS Chap improved incredibly well over the course of his holiday. He was wheelchair-bound at the start, but after every meal, he would try walking a few steps. He went from only managing three or four steps at the start of the holiday to managing over one hundred unassisted steps by the end!

Maybe He Thought It Was Morning Bloat

, , | Right | October 5, 2021

I’m a manager at a large senior housing community. I’m making a delivery to a building I rarely visit on the opposite side of campus. I’m seven months pregnant and look like I’m about to pop. I’m sitting in the waiting room of the building, catching my breath before I hoof it upstairs. A gentleman resident wheels by in his walker.

Me: “Good morning.

Resident: “Good morning. I’m [Resident].”

Me: “Hi, I’m [My Name]. Good to meet you.

Resident: “Are you our new resident?

Me: “No, I’m the manager of [building across campus].”

Resident: “Oh. We got a new resident and I thought you might be him.” 

Me: *To myself* “Resident? Him? I’m pregnant, wearing a dress and big earrings, long hair with a pearl clip in it, and I’m THIRTY-SEVEN.” *To him* “No, sir. I doubt we’d have any pregnant residents here. Have a good day!”

Books For The Win!

, , , , , | Right | June 1, 2021

I’m a female Army veteran. I have a job as a day aide for elderly clients. One of my clients is a ninety-eight-year-old lady who is very exacting about how she wants things done. She is also mostly blind, so she wants me to read to her.

Client: “I want you to read some short stories to me. Have you ever heard of The Decameron?”

Me: “No, I haven’t.”

Client: “Oh. I guess there isn’t much literature reading in the Army.”

Me: “Well, that’s rude.”

Client: *Staring at me in shock* “What do you mean?”

Me: “You saying there isn’t much literature reading in the Army. I do read.”

Client: “Oh, I just meant you hadn’t had a literature class.”

Me: “I have, in high school and in college. I’ve read plenty of classics, like The Iliad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid. Just because I haven’t heard of this particular book doesn’t mean I’m uneducated.”

Client: “Well, I… I didn’t mean to imply that you don’t read. Just that you… I’m sorry.”

Since she apologized, I decided to let it go at that and read the stories to her. Once we got past that, we actually had a good conversation about the book, which is a series of stories based on the Black Plague. Yes, I know, a bit weird to read that right now, but it was nice to sit and talk. When it was time to leave, she said she was excited to have me back to read, so that’s a win.

Gordon Was Their Glue

, , , | Working | May 11, 2021

Gordon was a janitor, odd-job man, and general get-things-done man at a care facility for vulnerable adults and the elderly. He was happy, friendly, cheerful, and competent, kept the infrastructure running well, and kept the place spick and span. Basically, he was really good at his job and went above and beyond as the necessity presented itself.

Come the day when the place was computerised. The requirement was now that he book all his activities on a computerised timesheet, for which he had to have a computer of his own or a mobile phone. Gordon did not have a computer and didn’t have the most up-to-date phone; all he needed to do was to take phone calls, which he managed perfectly well with his old model.

This latest requirement gave him a lot of trouble. He managed to get around it by being allowed to use one of the computers in the office, which was not part of his domain, and he felt socially awkward in there. Not only was it a complicated, fiddly, and awkwardly buggy piece of software — it used to crash when you didn’t enter the operations in the correct order — but Gordon did not take easily to learning how to use a computer. Equally unfortunately, there was nobody in the facility who was skilled in training a technological newcomer, and he was getting shouted at plenty, so of course, he found himself shouting back.

It didn’t end well. He was given an ultimatum: shape up or ship out. He was close to retirement anyway, so he took that early retirement and shipped out before the facility had even begun to think about getting his replacement trained up. They were forced to rely completely on the agency staff who had been used on a temporary basis on the occasions when Gordon was on leave. While competent enough at general janitorial duties, such temporary staff were nowhere near familiar enough with the facility to know how to keep it running properly, and things started progressively breaking down and not getting properly repaired, and of course, it turned out that Gordon had contacts in the trade where he would call specific people to get various repairs done. Without Gordon’s happy smiling presence, coupled with the increasingly shabby and ill-maintained infrastructure, morale plummeted, and staff started to drift away. Hence, they started failing inspections, and in due course, the facility closed. I’m not sure what happened to the residents; I believe they were shunted off to other establishments.