Friday, January 13, 2012

Shiny Happy People

Went in person to pay a bill at the hospital.  (I racked up some frequent flyer miles last year.)
The accounts receivable clerk had her own office near the main entrance. 

When I arrived, she was busy on the phone. So, I waited.
She had a lot of paper shuffling to do. So, I waited.

I'll be honest, I had a bug up my behind before I got there, which was part of the reason I decided to pay in person rather than just mail a check.  But as I watched this poor human being trudge through the monotony of her job, I felt very sorry that I'd come to make a fuss and immediately decided that I wasn't going to.

Finally, she invited me to come in and have a seat.
Told her I just wanted to pay off my accounts.
She turned to her computer and began typing.  Like she'd been doing when I walked in.  Like she'd be doing for hours before she could go home.

I sat quietly for only a few moments.
"It's nice they give you an escape door," I said.
She looked at me then glanced over her shoulder at the door in the back of the office.  Smiled.  "Yes, it is."

And the typing continued.

My back was to the entrance, but I knew when the older woman arrived at the office door.  She remarked outloud that "someone is already in there".  A man's voice asked something, and she repeated, "Someone is already in there."

Typitty typitty typitty...

A third voice in the hall spoke, and the collection of them discussed their purposes for being at the cashier's office, the bills they'd received, the charges they didn't think they owed, the things they were going to demand...

Typitty typitty typitty...

I leaned forward and whispered, "I'll bet you don't get many happy people coming to see you."
She whispered back, "No, I really don't."
I nodded.
She gestured with her eyes at the hallway. "And that one guy giving them advice?  That's not helping."
I nodded again.
Still whispering, she remarked, "That's why they give me the escape door."

I laughed out loud, and she smiled sincerely.

Typitty, typitty, type, type.

I handed her a check.  She handed me receipts.
And we parted ways.

Pretty sure I didn't change her life in any significant way, but she changed mine.
Because I kinda wonder what's behind that escape door now...


brandi said...

*sigh* Pay mine, will ya??
Too bad they don't have an escape door at my hospital.
It does say, employees only.
Hmmmmm. Well, guess they do, huh?

Anonymous said...

Too often folks take their frustrations out on fellow sufferers, for one reason: they sit on the other side of the desk.

And beyond the escape door is probably just a promise of escape, but sometimes that's all it takes.

Dani said...

I briefly worked at a credit card call center. Every single call I got was someone who was beyond angry. I spent 8 hours a day being screamed at for things that were not my fault and I didn't have the power to fix. I couldn't take it so I quit.

But every time I have to call a company I make sure I remain calm and tell the poor phone rep that I understand it's not their personal fault. Hopefully I make their lives a little easier.

brandi said...

I unfortunately worked at a call center several years, 6 in customer service. Talk about daily headaches!
Now when I call somewhere to complain and I am really angry, I ask for a supervisor. They need to hear the crap more than the poor souls who are stuck answering angry calls!
When I was asked if I wanted to transfer out of that department after 6 years, I almost said yes before they completed asking me!

Christie Critters said...

With luck, behind that escape door is a soothing cup of herb tea and a good looking masseuse...
If not, the soothing cup of herb tea and soundproofing will do...

Thumper said...

Hot male strippers and booze. THAT'S what's behind the door...

Roses said...


DogsDontPurr said...

I know about hospital "frequent flyer miles" all too well.

When ever I heave to deal with the bill people at my hospital, I always joke that they should have named a wing after me by now. That usually gets them to at least smile.

Bou said...

I'm like you. I can usually see when someone is in an abusive job. I've never worked a call center, but I don't like the feeling that some people get abused just because they're the front line.

If I make a call where I am REALLY pissed, I'll definitely say to the call center person, "You don't want to talk to me. You don't get paid enough to deal with me. Trust me. Please put me through to your supervisor, and if you think THEY are too underpaid, feel free to patch me up from there..."

Two weeks ago, my phone failed. I took it to my cell phone provider and waited my turn. While he was looking it over he said to me, "how is your day?" and I replied, "Well, probably far better than yours. I'm not the first line of defense for Sprint..."

He was quiet at first and then he said, "Wow, you're right, that's what I am... Hunh." He's a tech, great guy. Do you know, I've had to go in since, and he is so dang nice to me. It's not HIS fault my phone failed. I think he kinda went above and beyond what he had to.

I'm surprised that woman didn't make your hospital bill go away...

Roses said...

Bou: She gave me a 10% discount. :-)

Bou said...

Yay! I have had that happen. It's never anything I want, but people are just so beaten up in some of those jobs, that when someone is nice, they reply in the only way they know how.

I was in college and came home for the holidays. I was in the Mall with my folks. We stopped by a Mrs. Fields. People were so nasty. It was my turn and I smiled at him and said please and thank you, and I went to pay and he said, "No. You are the only person who has been nice to me all day. It is the least I could do..." (I still remember what he looks like.) How sad is that? How sad for our society.

I may end up having to do a post on this...