A Different Kind Of Cold Caller

, , , , | Related | November 14, 2017

(I run the reception desk of a medical centre. Usually I deal with people insisting they need emergency appointments when they don’t, but occasionally it’s the other way around. On this day I receive a phone call from a elderly man.)

Me: “Hello, how can I help?”

Caller: “I’d like a doctor to come out and see my wife. I can’t wake her up.”

Me: “I think you should call an ambulance.”

Caller: “Oh, no, I don’t want to bother them.”

Me: “No, really, sir. If she won’t wake up, you should phone for an ambulance.”

Caller: “I don’t want to waste their time. I’m just a bit worried because she seems really cold. Couldn’t a doctor come out?”

Me: “How long has she been unresponsive when you try to wake her?”

Caller: “About three days.”

(As it clearly wasn’t an emergency any longer, a doctor did go round and declare the woman deceased. I still can’t believe he didn’t phone an ambulance as soon as she wouldn’t wake up!)

That Went From Zero To Ten Super Fast

, , , , , , | Working | November 14, 2017

(I’m waiting in a line to be served. The current customer has a young daughter with her who has been playing silently with a number book. The cashier takes notice. She is an elderly lady.)

Cashier: “Oh, are you learning you count?”

Girl: “Yep!”

Cashier: “Can you count to ten yet?”

Girl: *innocently* “Sure! Can you?”

(The cashier’s face turns sour.)

Cashier: “F*** you!”

(Everyone gasps, including the girl and her mother. Before anyone can react though, the little girl slaps her.)

Girl: “Naughty!”

(Then, chaos breaks loose as the cashier tries to climb over the counter while the mother scolds her daughter. The cashier then starts shouting for a manager and they all head for the store’s exit. The remaining line moves to another checkout and is seen to. As I leave the store, I still hear the cashier shouting, with a manager shouting over her.)

Manager: “WHAT DO YOU EXPECT ME TO DO? PROSECUTE A TODDLER?”

(I imagine the mother probably got in trouble, but hopefully the repercussions weren’t too severe.)

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.

A New Way To Get Electrolytes

, , , , , , | Right | November 13, 2017

(I’m on the customer service desk when a customer approaches.)

Customer: “I want to return this banana!”

Me: *looking at perfectly healthy, unpeeled banana* “Okay, can I just ask what the problem was?”

Customer: *completely serious* “It gave me an electric shock!”

Me: “Um…”

Customer: “I DON’T WANT ELECTRICITY IN MY STOMACH!”

Me: “Okay, sir. Let me just get that for you.”

(It was the strangest refund I’ve ever had to do, and it was 13p.)

Should Éire On The Side Of Caution

, , , , , | Right | November 13, 2017

Customer: “So, you sound English; that’s rare these days.”

Me: *sitting there, very white, and with alarm bells sounding* “Um, yes. I was born and raised here.”

Customer: “You can never tell whether someone is really English.”

Me: “Well, if we are being fully accurate, I am ethnically Irish.”

Customer: “Well, Ireland’s part of England, anyway.”

Me: “I wouldn’t say that to someone not being paid to sit quietly.”

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