Confession: I nearly punched a lady today. And I need to vent, else I may end up punching her next time.
It started with an e-mail sent in January, telling us to have a badge made to access the uni buildings. The buildings belong to the academic hospital, and the badge needed to be made at the staff service desk despite the fact that we’re not staff. Oh, and we were only allowed to phone for an appointment (an appointment for something that is normally done without, yes) in March, after we started our programme.
Knowing that I will lose the info, I pinned it to my task bar in Gmail. The only problem is, I don’t see the task bar on my phone. Not in iPhone’s mail app, not in the official Gmail app. Considering I need to link the ‘to do’ to the email I found it a bit too complicated to have this task in my phone. Result: I only remembered when I couldn’t phone. And when I did actually manage to remember during office hours… I got no answer. And again. (This is a lovely example of people not getting how hard it is to get simple things done with ADHD, actually, especially if it’s combined with Murphy’s Law). Mind you, I had all the time in the world to phone them and phone them again and again in the last week of February. But I wasn’t allowed to.
So last Tuesday, I went to the actual desk to see if I could be helped. I went along with a co-worker who had problems with their ‘service’ (as in; the badge wasn’t working). There were 3 ladies, doing nothing. One tended to my co-worker. The other two watched. After a few minutes, I asked them if anyone was going to help me.
Lady: Oh, sorry, I thought you were just standing there along with her.
Me: No. I still need to have a badge made.
Lady: Oh. Do you have an ID document with you?
Me: Yes, my driver’s licence. (In Holland your licence is a valid ID. )
Lady: Oh, but I need an identification document, not an -(Eh, whadya know. The Dutch have 2 words for ‘identification’. Now how do I translate this then? )ID. You have to make an appointment.
Me: sigh. Really? I have already tried to phone you guys a few times and now this.
Lady: Yes, sometimes we’re not available on phone. I’ll give you an appointment and then you bring something you can identify yourself with, such as your ID card or passport.
Me: The police accepts my licence as a valid ID, that’s why I no longer have an ID card! (I’m getting slightly irritated here). Well then, what do you have?
Lady: If you like, you can also phone for an appointment.
Me: I’m here now. I don’t like to phone you because you don’t pick up.
Lady does something in her computer.
Me, talking to co-worker (making a half-joke to help keel my cool): Well, if it’s about identification only, one could also show a foreign passport. Or foreign ID card. A passport is a passport.
Lady, chipping in: No, you can’t show a foreign passport. I need your social security number. That’s why I need your passport.
Me, slightly baffled: My social security is on my drivers licence, and you can actually use a drivers licence to do a social security check with. But I don’t even work here. (I am now also standing there with my pen in my hand and my planner open, mind you!)
Other lady, chipping in: It was on the news the other day, it’s true, identification is not the same as ID and we need your social security number because you get the same form as employees.
Lady: And we need your bank account number for the 15-euro warranty. And the same rules apply to you when it comes to ID as for employees: passport or ID, no copies.
Co-worker: come on, this isn’t worth it.
Me: Just give me the appointment please.
Lady: 8:30 tomorrow?
Me: I’ll see if I can make it, I don’t know where the class starting at 9 is but it should be fine. (Inwardly being irritated because this means waking up half an hour earlier)
Lady: You can just phone tomorrow morning if it doesn’t work out.
(Right. I have your number on speed-dial….)
So, the next morning I got up half an hour earlier, but ended up missing my train by a second. I decided to get some coffee and catch a later train to be on time for class, as there was no way I was going to be able to run for the 8:30 appointment anyway, as I was suddenly feeling really unwell. Inside Starbucks the cause of the unwell feeling became clear: I was having an asthma attack. No idea why, actually. Sorry service desk ladies, but breathing was actually more important than trying to search for your phone number in my e-mail and then being submitted to more of your nonsense.
In my head I would have gone back yesterday, but due to my work not being entirely predictable, I ended up having to rush to get to the physio.
Today I went back during lunch break. There was one lady. I don’t know if she was there the other day too; she looked like many Dutch women do.
I waited patiently for 5 minutes while she finished a phone conversation about the weather and the like. I waited another few minutes while she did another phone call, actually in order to not help a lady in front of me. (‘It can’t be done today’ is not helping).
She then stares at me without saying anything.
Me: Hi. I’d like to have a badge made.
She: You’d like to make an appointment for a badge?
Me: (slightly irritated by her rude approach): No, I want the badge. I have my passport.
She: We only work with appointments. I can give you an appointment to make a badge.
(Making a badge takes 5 minutes, for the record)
Me: Look, I have already spent too much time on this. I’ve phoned you several times, no luck. You couldn’t help me the other day, and I couldn’t make the other appointment due to an asthma attack. I don’t have your phone number any more. I am getting fed up with this. And you do work without appointments, you helped several of my co-workers without appointments.
She: Well, I can’t help you now, I can give you an appointment because there is someone else who I have to help too. This is a busy time.
(There was a nurse who just walked in. One other person, yes. You weren’t too busy to chat about the weather while I was waiting….)
Me: This is getting ridiculous. What time do you close this afternoon?
She: I can give you an appointment for 4pm, or 4:15
Me: I can try for 4:15, but I have a test which is supposedly till 4:30.
She: I need a time you are sure about. What day?
Me: I am a GP trainee, I have no times I am sure about because things tend to be unpredictable. I don’t work in the hospital, so I can’t just hop by. It’s hard to give you a precise time that actually works for me. (I check my planner, and see that the coming week is particularly hard. )
She: Well, just like the GP we work with appointments, so you have to make an appointment at a time you can be here. All your colleagues made appointments, you had a letter about it so you should know exactly what the rules are. There are too many of you, we can’t help you all at once, we only have that kind of thing for medical students because they come in groups. Most of you come on uni day. Tuesday 8:30?
Me: (concentrating too hard on not losing my temper by this time, swallowing my remark about walk-in surgeries and receptionists doing lots of stuff without appointments because I remember my co-worker’s ‘it’s not worth it’ remark from the other day. I’m boiling mad over her arrogance, rudeness and the fact that she’s actually lecturing me over this.) The letter was an e-mail, sent months ago, I no longer have it handy. I phoned, you did not answer. You helped some of my colleagues without an appointment. And I have no guaranteed time I can be here, I don’t live in Uni City. Tuesday 8:30 is not fine; I am on call the evening before. Tuesday lunchtime is not guaranteed because I’m working half a day and doing half at uni. My only possible option is Friday morning, I start work at 12, but that would mean coming in just for that.
She: Friday at 12 then?
Me: I start work at 12…
She: Friday at 9?
Me: Like I said: I have to come in especially for this and I’m not doing that at 9AM. 11? (calculating that I’d need to get to the practice too, it’s a detour to get to this hospital first. Still using all my willpower not to punch her) I can try and see if that works.
She: You can also phone in the morning, when you know how your day will work out.
Me: I won’t know how my day work out in the morning better than I do now.
She: Do you want to make an appointment now, or do you want to phone me in the morning when you know better how your day will work out and when you’re certain you can make it?
Me: Look, I’ve already wasted too much time on getting a badge. Can you give me the 11AM appointment, I’ll try to make it, that’s another hour of my free time, you know.
She: You can phone me when you know better too. I can give you the phone number again?
Me: (wondering what part of ‘unpredictable’ means it’s predictable in the mornings…) I am not going to phone you in the morning. Give me the appointment and I’ll try to make it.
She: Ok, next friday at 11 and don’t forget your ID and bank info.
Right. She had all the time in the world for this and chatting about the weather, but not 5 minutes to make the badge. She probably kicks on this ‘power’ she has, but she wasn’t worth the trouble I’d get in for throwing a fist at her, even though she deserves to find out just how mad she makes people. Thanks to her crap, I was late back at class. And I finished the test at 4PM, but showing up to get it sorted out would not have worked. I didn’t ask for her manager, I wanted to get to class.
And now my ADHD mind has to remember to take the right form of ID with me on Friday because I’m not carrying a passport with me at all times. And I have to waste my morning off on this crap. I tried to file a complaint against them, but the university hospital website has no easy access to info like that, and phoning them via the general number is pointless. She has no idea how complicated it is for me to get there with all the stuff at 11AM on Friday morning. And that will actually be over 2 months this simple task, that needs to take no more than 20 mins total including phoning them, has been on my mind. I can think of so many things I’d rather do than leave home an hour early in order to deal with their crap just to get a badge I’m not even sure what I need it for.
None of the ‘reasons’ they gave me is true. In fact, I doubt there is any real reason why my licence wouldn’t do, other than the institute’s bureaucracy. Fair enough, simply saying there’s nothing she can do would have done. While another person may have responded less impulsively, this kind of behaviour from her side would have had them fired at McDonalds. I would fire them if they spoke to my patients like that. The whole idea of a staff service desk is to sort stuff out for people, not to bully them.
And I still want to hit her. Shake her. Scream at her. It’s not even really about personal offence, I am mostly frustrated because I can’t just get this simple task done. It’s about the ridiculousness of the situation, and the stupidity of the fact that these women can do this. I don’t want anyone else to deal with it.
So, dear Large Institute University Hospital: I think you need to re-source the humans in your human resource team. This deserves a price for most kak service of the year.