No time for 'bad day' with patients

March 15, 2011

In our field, there can't be bad days.

A few months ago, my house was hit by lightning while I was in it. To say it was an "enlightening" experience is putting it mildly, and uses all the definitions of enlightening in the dictionary.

Since that fateful night, I have had multiple emotions-shock that we were struck by lightning; confusion; fear that the house was on fire; panic when nothing worked (especially the television); and then anger that this happened to me. Not that I ever would wish this on anyone else . . . but seriously, why me?

Two hours into the project, I met the "evil Scott." With every new challenge our television systems gave him, his fuse got shorter and shorter. I began to ply him with Gatorade, soda, and copious amounts of bottled water-anything to keep him moving and to finish the job. By the end of the third hour, he began to get vocal about not having enough time to do the job and eventually kicked my popcorn bush to death during his final re-wiring of the television dish. After surviving the hail, the bush succumbed to Scott's boot.

When he left, two of the television sets still did not work correctly and all the happy, good feelings I had for the company were down the tubes-and I wanted revenge for the demise of the bush.

I began to vent to anyone who would listen to me that the service I received for the money I was paying each month was suboptimal. I would not recommend the company to anyone I knew, even though we have been with them for 6 years and I had been a relatively happy customer with the past service I had received.

I called his manager the next day and let him know I wanted a supervisor to come within the next 3 days to fix the two televisions that did not work properly.

The manager was calm and patient, and somewhat sympathetic, and then stated the words that sent me through the ceiling: "I am sorry that he behaved that way. He is one of my best technicians. He was probably stressed by the number of houses he had to re-wire. I should have paid more attention to his workload. I guess he just was having a bad day."

Something was triggered inside me when he said the word "technician" and "bad day" in the same sentence.

I immediately responded, "He doesn't have the right to have a bad day. He works with people, that's his job. I got hit by lightning-I am having the bad day."

After I calmed down, I began to think of the statement: He had a bad day.