Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Storm In A Teeth Cup

A not very pleasant episode occurred at my practice a couple of weeks ago. A long time patient of mine had come in to get a new pair of dentures done to replace his worn out 12 year old ones. A few visits later, the new pair was completed and was issued to him, without much incident.

I had cautioned him that it might take him a couple of weeks to 'wear it in', and that I would gladly do any adjustments necessary if he encountered any lingering difficulties in two weeks' time. He left my office smiling, presumably because he had something new to smile with.

Which was why I was quite taken aback when he stormed into my office the very next day crying foul over the 'substandard' dentures. He just kept going on and on about how bad the dentures were, and that he felt extremely uncomfortable wearing it. I tried explain to him about the trials of wearing a new set, but I couldn't get two words in before he went on another tirade about the coarseness of the dentures and even began to belittle my dental technician.

I decided that this was not a time to try to explain or defend myself, so I just sat there and get saliva sprayed all over me and insults hurled everywhere. Ten hellish minutes later, I listed down all his complaints as calmly as I could and promised him I would rectify the problems as best I could. He then left in a huff leaving my nurse and I a little bit shaken.

To say that I was upset would be an understatement. I always prided myself in the clinic's quality of treatment, and also in my dental technician's level of work. To be suddenly reduced to a worthless pile of s**t like this was indeed a wake-up call for me. In addition I was also sad that I might have lost a very loyal customer and at the same time a little bit angry for having been unfairly yelled at.

Anyway, a week later, the patient came in again to have the dentures refitted. When I saw his record file on my table, I took in a deep breath and braced myself for another storm. Imagine my surprise when he came in smiling and even greeted me Good morning. I then just went on, as if everything was fine and enquired after him. As I was giving the dentures a final polish, he calmly explained that he had been under a lot of stress lately as he had to take care of his two grandkids while his 38 y/o son was in Taiwan undergoing emergency brain surgery for an unexpected stroke these past two weeks. He was very worried that his son might not make it, or worse come out a vegetable. I could feel his anguish at that thought and wondered how I would have dealt with all that stress.

Everything had settled down and his son was now on the road to recovery. Hence his improved mood that morning. As he left with the new and improved dentures, I let out a huge sigh of relief and thanked God that I didn't lose it the other day and try to argue my way through. Of course, I also made sure that from now on, every set of dentures I issue will be given an extra polish and to remind my technician to raise his game up a notch.

I learnt something that day. Sometimes, it is best to just keep your mouth shut even if you know you are in the right especially when the offending party is caught in a flare of temper.

And sometimes, when you least expect it, life throws you an unexpected curve ball. Just to shake you up a little bit. To remind you that it's not always about you. So that you can stop, take a deep breath and smell the flowers on the roadside of life's journey. Coz you never know when you'll get that chance again.


Josh said...

Wow, this is a very meaningful and inspiring entry!

Amazonman said...

Thanks Josh.... I hope this doesn't mean that all the past entries have been dull and meaningless for you.... ;)

Josh said...

No, no, no. Your blog is interesting to read. Nice photos too. This entry is particularly enriching la. The only 'dull' thing is the tortoise-liked update of the blog. hehehe.

Amazonman said...

Erm... brader, I got fulltime dayjob one u know.... Plus the beijing pics had to sort through about 1500 pics lah.... then photoshop nicely one by one.... then do some research so that i tak kena sue for presenting wrong info.... after that have to sit in front of the blardi computer and wait for blardi streamyx to upload the pics onto to blogger....that's why slow lah....

Seriously, thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate it.