Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Taking advantage

Hey all,

It is the dog days of summer. It is so hot here. I was driving to my run on Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and it was 82 degrees. And I know that other parts of the country are really hot as well. We love it when it rains because it drops the temp about 15 degrees. Problem becomes that it is then 140 percent humidity. Well, it is almost over. And at least we have air conditioning and movies.

Speaking of movies ... I saw Due Date this weekend. OMGosh, it was so funny. Again, not a movie for kids because it had some really raunchy parts (that they could have left out), but if you could get past these it was a "fall off your chair with a belly laugh" funny.

I also saw X-men at the dollar theater with my son (two tickets=$2.50). I really enjoyed the other two X-men movies, but this one, not so much. I fell asleep three times in the theater.

I am going to tell you a story but you have to promise not to get mad or cuss at the computer. I want you to count to 10, then you can react. I am a giver. I usually am a sucker for people who are in a tough spot. If they ask me to help them, I usually don't ask too many questions and help them. It can be at the office or at home.

Most of you know that I do Dentistry from the Heart every year. One year, a local company sponsored the event. So at the end of it I made a PowerPoint presentation and I went to their headquarters right down street. They had all their employees in a room, and I gave a presentation on what their money went to and described the day and what a success it was. This was four years ago. A month or so ago I got a call from someone. He said he use to work for that local company. He said he had come on some hard times. He said he and his two kids were in bad dental shape.

"My kids have holes in their teeth and I don't have any money to help them, can you please help?"

Now I know how often you get these kind of calls or how familiar you are with this situation. But for me, when there are kids involved, I don't usually say "no." So for this guy I told them I would help them. I made an appointment for the following week for him and his two kids first thing the following Wednesday. Everything was set.

Tuesday, the day before the appointment, I told my staff that I am going to work on this family and they were not to be charged. So I put myself out there. I say to my staff they these guys are "worthy." The next morning I am driving to work and I get a call on my cell at 6:45 a.m. and I don't recognize the number (never a good sign). It was him.

He says, "I didn't hear from your office, just making sure we are still on for today?" I said, "Yep, we are looking forward to meeting with you and your family in about 15 minutes."

He says, "Well, here is the deal. I just dropped my mom off at the airport. So I can leave now and be there as fast as I can."

My mind starts to process this, I mean it is 6:45 in the morning. I am thinking to myself, "What the heck is going on here?" I realize he doesn't have the kids in the car. I said, "You are at the airport now, but you still have to go and get your kids?"

"Yes, but they are on the way."

I know where he lives and saying this was on the way was like saying I was going to go from New York to Florida, and that Nebraska was on the way. Anyway, so I started to get upset. I have learned to recognize when someone is screwing me and I tell myself I wasn't going to stay quiet anymore. So I began to let this guy have it.

"So you are calling me to tell me that you are going to come to your appointment, but you are going to be 50 minutes late for an hour appointment." Then he starts with, "I just wanted to call to respect your time." I said, "No, respecting my time would be to call me LAST NIGHT and either confirm your appointment or call and tell me that you have to take your mother to the airport, and see if we can work something out."


I went on to say, "I put my neck out for you, I was going to do everything for free and you are at the airport." I was thinking that ideally I am $600 an hour and he gave that up so he could take his mom to the airport (a $40 taxi ride). I was so furious. Then there was a bunch of, "I am so sorry, this thing with the airport came up ... The kids really need this, I am so sorry." But I was not going to give in. I was not going to say it was okay, because it is not. I just said, "I am sorry this didn't work out for you." And I hung up.

I came into work and had to face my staff and tell them that our first patients were not coming in. Of course they looked at me like, "you are such a fool" (at least that is what I felt like). I told them the story and they were all aghast. They were proud of me for sticking up for myself and the office. Of course I calmed down. A free hour gave me a chance to catch up on my charts. I got a jump on Wednesday's blog. I can always use an hour.

Then I hear my phone buzz. I got a text. It was from him. "Doctor, I am so sorry. I know your time is valuable. This thing with my mom and the airport was an emergency. My kids really need this. Would you please reconsider?"

Okay, you promised not to cuss. Think about it a second and tell me what you would do. I mean even though this person screwed me, he is still hard up and his kids still have holes in their teeth.

Have a great Wednesday. I look forward to hearing from you,


p.s. Don't forget to rate the blogs. It really helps.


Anonymous said...

I would ignore the text. He'll find someone else to screw over. I bet you weren't the first dentist he called! Don't feel bad about it. There are plenty of ways his kids can get treatment. He should have kept the appointment!

Anonymous said...

Due date was weak.....hall pass, now there is a nice raunchy comedy. You are too nice.

Anonymous said...

Going ahead against your better judgement will just ended up in the same result as before. People will take advantage as much as they can get away with. But you like it so you will do it anyway.

Dental Clinic Melbounre said...

I would give him another chance :)

jamie said...

so here's an idea. how about you agree to do it, but make it a "trade" of sorts. (ie. he works it off or does something for you that he can) that way it makes it seem that he is "paying" you but not in a monetary sense. you don't totally feel like you're getting screwed, and hopefully he feels like there is an arrangement and not just charity. it still doesn't make the lack of respect any better, but what can you do.

also, for what it's worth, when i do something pro bono, i always put it at the END of the day, so it they don't show, i'm heading home early. putting it first thing in the morning doesn't give you any chance to find someone else, and starts the day off crappy if they no show. just a thought.

Anonymous said...

No no. The first writer has it right. To hell with those people. You just wrote that you "Can't do it all" right?

I would stop trying to save the world because it never pans out, heaven or not. Just try to do a better than average job every day, just like you and the rest of us mortals are doing.

We, your readers as dentists from around the world, have become better people and practitioners as a result of your blog. As followers, we never thank you as much as we should but we are here every day following your hardships and silently commiserating with you in your/our daily struggles with trying to attain excellence.

We, btw, are the ones that are "worthy".

I'm glad that you do this for us. I don't bitch about work to my wife every day thanks to you. I feel better knowing that we go through the exact same hardships that you do - I just can't articulate them as well as you do. So don't despair that you aren't changing the world on your terms - you are doing just that, with a great flare I might say, by way of this blog 3 nights a week.

Dentistry as it turns out is a lonely profession and it is nice to know that someone else that I have never met cares as much about it as I do, 3000 miles away and a border crossing to boot.

Thanks John. Choose your battles, but please revel in your successes, small as they might appear. There are many more than you realize. And you've earned every one of them.

You're the best, man. G in BC

healthysmiles said...

People will take advantage as much as they can get away with. But you like it so you will do it anyway.


PLEASE NOTE: When commenting on this blog, you are affirming that any and all statements, and parts thereof, that you post on “The Daily Grind” (the blog) are your own.

The statements expressed on this blog to include the bloggers postings do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), nor do they imply endorsement by the AGD.