Friday, December 10, 2004


So I went to the lab this morning to have my blood drawn. This is the lab where, some months ago, they did something incompetent or mean (I don't recall what), and I decided to drive across town to the other lab instead of dealing with them. There were 10 elderly people already signed up this morning. We sat around and waited. I read the paper. There was a large woman, a staff member, moving slowly around the lab. I got up and approached the desk, to figure out why we were waiting. A patient was sitting in the special chair, peacefully. The woman asked me "Did you sign up?" "Yes," I said, then added: "I was just wondering what the -- are we waiting for the phlebotomist or something?" I didn't want to say "What is the delay?" because that might be offensive. So I tossed in that quick guess. The woman walked behind me, and as she did so, she said "Hello?" in that ironic voice. I got that she meant that she is the phlebotomist, and that her pride was hurt, thinking that I would assume her not to be. I stood there for a moment, not yet aware that I should take offense. Then I remembered that my response to being treated this way, in any customer service situation, is to go elsewhere. I have worked behind the counter many times in my life and I never treated my customers that way. So I crossed my name off the waiting list and wrote "Hello" next to it, in quotes. Then I said to the woman, "Bye." She crooned back "Bye." As I pull out of the parking lot I realized, further, that I don't want someone taking my blood who is annoyed with me. Not only because of the jabbing they could inflict, but because of the negligence with which they might handle my sample. I'll go to the lab across town. Their phone number is disconnected.

I also try to make a habit, in these situations, of filing a complaint, for the benefit of subsequent customers. It is, though, a lot of work. And the employee is well able to blow it off as an encounter with a crank. But hopefully I am not the only one making the observation, and after a number of incidents, something might be done. Might.

Then while I was standing in the kitchen eating breakfast (note: standing), and listening to NPR, they started into a story about people in the US going to China for controversial medical procedures. They featured the story of this one guy who wasn't moving much, and I thought maybe he might have some disease similar to ALS. The reporter doing the story had an accent I am not familiar with, so when he started to say the name of the guy's disease I didn't recognize the word, and it was only when he said "lateral sclerosis" and "ALS" that I was sure. I laughed. This poor guy from the US had nasal cells from aborted fetuses transplanted into his brain. Totally useless! I was amused to hear such a long story about ALS on the radio, and found it ironic. My lovely wife had taken the kids with her to her appointment with the chiropractor. Some people think chiropractic is quackery. I know from personal experience that it isn't. But you can keep your aborted-fetus nasal cells.
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