Leaving You High And Dry

, , , , , | Hopeless | November 15, 2017

(I’ve gone to the hospital for an ultrasound scan. On my way to the hospital, I am caught in a flash rainstorm and have no umbrella, so I am completely soaked through by the time I arrive.)

Doctor: “Ms. [Surname]?

Me: “Hi.”

Doctor: “Oh, you poor thing; you’re soaked though.”

Me: “Yeah, it was raining really hard out there.”

(We enter the ultrasound room.)

Sonographer: “Hi. I’m [Sonographer], and I’ll be doing your scan today. If I could ask you to lie on the bench…”

Me: “Sure. Uh, I’m sorry; I’m going to make it a little damp, I think.”

Doctor: “Don’t apologise; we’re just sorry you’re so wet. Wait, hold on. We have spare hospital gowns somewhere.”

Sonographer: “In the waiting room. I’ll grab one. Hopefully your clothes can dry a little when we do the scan.”

(She goes out.)

Doctor: “Right. Let’s see if I can switch the air-conditioner off in here, or get it to run hot.”

Me: “Thanks!”

Doctor: “Not a problem.”

(The sonographer comes back with a hospital gown, so I get changed. After the scan is done…)

Doctor: “All done. Do you have to be anywhere? Otherwise, maybe we could see if there’s somewhere for you to sit so your clothes can dry.”

Me: “That’s very kind, but I have to go back home and carry on working.”

Doctor: “Hmm, I wonder if we can get you a hairdryer for a quick solution, then.”

Sonographer: “Let me think…” *pause* “I’m pretty sure we don’t have any we can use, but if you take the first left, there are some toilets with a pretty good hand-dryer, which you might be able to stand under.”

(I ended up having to rush back, but I was extremely grateful to the doctor and sonographer for trying to find a way to dry me off!)

Maybe The Library Has Books About What Libraries Are

, , , , | Right | November 15, 2017

(A man in an extremely dirty jacket approaches the counter holding a copy of a reference-only Banksy art book.)

Customer: “Ey, mate, how much for this book? There ‘ent a price on it.”

Me: “Er… This is a library. I’m afraid I can’t sell you any of the books.”

Customer: “Eh? How much for this, then?”

Me: “No, it’s… This isn’t a shop. It’s a library. The books aren’t for sale. I can sign you up for a library card, if you want.”

Customer: *stares blankly*

Me: “I can give you a library card, so that you can borrow books, but not that one; that one has to stay here.”

Customer: “Are you not gonna serve me ’cause of how I’m dressed, eh? I have loads of money: look.” *waves around a couple of £10 notes*

Me: “I can’t sell you the book because this is a library.”

Customer: “What the h***’s that, then?”

(This went on for a couple more minutes. He finally left, clearly still convinced that we were a bookstore and confused about why we refused to serve him.)

Kindness In Death

, , , , | Healthy | November 14, 2017

I used to work in an oncology unit specialising in gastrointestinal cancers – the sort of thing that, by the time it got to us, all we could do was arrange for palliative treatment to make the time the patient had left longer and more comfortable. I handled phone calls from the patients and families, all of whom were obviously upset and as a result not as thoughtful as they might have been.

Sometimes, they had a right to be abrasive, though. One man whose mother needed an urgent chemotherapy booking had been left hanging for weeks, and the registrar who was supposed to be handling the booking hadn’t done anything despite the fact that her prognosis was dwindling all the time. Eventually, I got fed up; I grabbed the patient file and the documentation that he hadn’t signed yet, interrupted the consultant at lunch, stood over him until he checked and signed the document, delivered everything to the ward personally, and, apologising to the still-furious son of the patient, told him his mother had an appointment the following day.

Less than a month later, I got word that the patient in that story had died. Two days after that, reception told me that said patient’s son was on his way to my office. I was sure he was coming to berate me to my face… but when he turned up, it was with a small silk rose and a small box of chocolates. He told me that he wanted to apologise for losing his temper, and tell me how grateful he was for how hard I’d worked to see that his mother got proper care.

I am never going to forget the man who managed to be so thoughtful of someone else even with such a recent bereavement. It’s the yardstick to which I hold my behaviour to this day.

Sick Of Not Being Sick

, , , , , , , , | Working | November 8, 2017

(I have been working at my current job for over a year and in that time have never taken a single day of sick leave and have only twice been late. I manage to overhear a couple managers talking about me:)

Manager #1: “Well, put [My Name] down for the early shift; he’s always on time.”

Manager #2: “And we know he probably won’t call in sick 15 minutes before, too. Most of the other guys here call in sick at least once a month; he’s gone a whole year and not a single sick day. For us, that must be a record.”

Manager #1: “Oh, yes. I forgot what it’s actually like to be able to trust the staff working here.”

(I figured I was just doing my job by literally turning up for it. It turns out that’s not the way anyone else does things. Now I’m much less surprised that my department has a high turnover rate for staff.)

Think Before One Flaps One’s Gums

, , , , , | Working | October 24, 2017

(My family and I are on vacation in London. We go to the Great British Beer Festival that happens in August. There’s a little vendor there selling my favorite British candy, wine gums, which I can’t easily buy in the US. I’m fairly certain I have a pretty obvious US accent, having lived there my entire life.)

Me: “I’m so glad I found these here! It’s our last day in London, and I haven’t had any wine gums the whole time!”

Vendor: “You know, we deliver candies all over!”

Me: “All over, really?”

Vendor: “Yeah! We can go anywhere!”

Me: “To the States?”

Vendor: *dejected* “Oh, yeah, I guess not anywhere. I meant within the UK.”

(I was sad, too. I really wanted those wine gums delivered to me!)

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