Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An Encounter with a Wagon Full of Crankiness

I called my doctor's office today, with the hope of getting my records transferred to a doctor a bit closer to where I live and work. The call went something like this:

Receptionist: "Hello, Dr. M's office, can you hold?"

Me: "Sure," in a cheery tone, thinking she would come right back.

One minute ... two minutes ... three ... four ... maybe I should hang up and call back later ... but, I just know she's going to come back soon ... five ....

Receptionist, slightly cranky: "She's with a patient, but she'll be done in just a minute if you could hold."

Me, confused but semi-cheery: "What?"

Receptionist, now perturbed: "She'll be done soon, if you could just hold for another minute, that's all."

Me, not sure we'd ever even discussed why I was calling: "Dr. M?"

Receptionist, getting crankier: "No ... the M.A."

Me, still trying to play the cheerful card and thinking that, surely, she must have me confused with another caller: "Oh, I just called to get my records transferred."

All-knowing and apparently telepathic receptionist: "Right ... the M.A. has to do that, so if you could just hold on one more minute, she's just finishing up."

Me: "Oh ... okay", I say to no one in particular since she has already put me back on hold.

Thankfully, the M.A. was as sweet as punch, and the remainder of the conversation went as I would have perceived it to go in the first place.

I used to tell our employees that everyone came to work each day somewhere along the continuum of overjoyed, content, or burdened by what was happening in their life at that moment; or what had happened that morning; or the evening prior. I likened it to pulling an imaginary "wagon" behind them ... the wagon might be filled with a combination of good, bad, and/or challenging things ... from their past, in process, or fresh from the morning commute. I knew that wagon played a huge part in that person's life.

There was a rule about that wagon, though ... it needed to be checked at the door when it came to talking with the customers/employees we served. The wagon-load - be it good stuff or bad stuff - was not their issue ... even when the customer wasn't being so pleasant (not easy!).

When I hung up the phone after my call, I initially couldn't help but think how rude and cranky the receptionist had been, and how her attitude could potentially hurt that doctor's business. But, then I started thinking about the wagon ... maybe she had received difficult news, or had a hectic morning getting the kids out the door and making it to work on time, or had more incoming calls and tasks than time available, or maybe - sadly - that's just the way she treated people.

No matter the reason ... her wagon was sitting front and center during her call with me. A wagon filled to the brim and translating over the phone into crankiness ... even to a customer talking nicely back to her.

Hoping your wagon and all those encountered today are full of good and pleasant things!


Danyelle L. said...

I like the comparison. Very nice! Sometimes the wagon can be really light and wonderful, or heavy with rocks. There was a receptionist/nurse like that where I used to go to the doctors. I ended up going somewhere else because of it.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Ooh boy. I wish folks would take more care with their wagons!
But yours is a delight.
I enjoyed the post!

Kelly Polark said...

It does perturb me when customer service or just anyone dealing with the public is cranky. I agree that someone may be having an off day, and sometimes it is hard to put on a brave smile (and that's okay), but I think some people are just plain cranky people! :)
When I was teaching and if I was having a hard day with personal stuff, I (for the most part) checked my wagon at the door and gave my kids my full attention and actually they would make me forget what I was worried about for the time being.

Unknown said...

I once had a boss who made me smile when I answered the phone, whether I wanted to or not...and it made me end up smiling with my voice, too.

Kelly H-Y said...

Danyelle! Thanks so much ... you are so right.

Rebecca - Yes! And, thank you! By the way ... I'm still thoroughly enjoying my nightly 'retreat' to France via your book!

Kelly - I agree ... that's just the way some people seem to be. And, you're so right ... sometimes, you end up forgetting all about what you were worrying about once you get going on other things!

Beth! That's so wonderful to have a boss like that ... I had one of those too, and always hoped I was one to my employees. It certainly makes work a lot more enjoyable, doesn't it?!

Anonymous said...

The older I get the more I am mindful of just that! Lovely way to put it.

Kelly H-Y said...

So true, Meredith. Thank you!

Keri Mikulski said...

Love the wagon metaphor. :) So true. Nice post! :)

Kelly H-Y said...

Thank you, Keri! Hope you've had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

C.R. Evers said...

I love the "wagon" idea!

I know that I've been guilty of being cranky, so that's what helps me keep my cool when I encounter someone else who is being the same way.

Great post!

Kelly H-Y said...

C.R. - So true!!!