Why is just plain showing up so effective in getting help? We should get penalized instead of rewarded for not calling ahead, but it rarely happens.

Why is just plain showing up so effective in getting help? We should get penalized instead of rewarded for not calling ahead, but it rarely happens.


I remember the time one of our honorary kids called me from school to see if I could bring him to the pediatric association overseeing his care.


He said he had a rash that itched so much he could hardly hear what his teachers were saying, let alone respond. And the school nurse didn’t seem to know.


“She had NO CLUE!“ he said when I picked him up at 2:30. “She said, “Well, this one your neck could be a bug bite, and this place on your arm could be heat rash, and this on your foot could be irritation from your shoes. …’ But I’m saying to myself, ‘What are the chances it’s three separate things?’”


“Looks like poison ivy to me,” I told him.


“I thought so, too, though I’ve never had poison ivy! My buddy has the same rash and we were hiking together over the weekend.”


So on we drove, the teen and I.


I had asked him when we first spoke to call the practice and see if they could fit us in.


“Um, I didn’t do that,” he said as we pulled in to the medical building parking lot.


So thus did we present ourselves, hat in hand so to speak, before the receptionist.


“Can I help you?” she greeted us pleasantly.


“I have this rash,” said the teen, holding his arms out for inspection.


She glanced over at me. “And … you have an appointment?”


“No, actually,” I said. “We just thought it might be as easy to make the appointment in person as over the phone,” I then fibbed.


She gave us a long look, one of us feebly smiling, the other blooming in pustules. She looked down at her book.  


“I can fit you in at 6:45,” she said. 


It was then 3:15.


I didn't know what to say to that. Could the boy miss practice? Miss dinner? I wasn’t sure I could really make that call.


And the boy himself went totally mute.


“So … you’ll come back?” she asked, but still we just looked at her, buffaloed.


“OK, well, how about this?” she went on. “How about I write you in for 6:45 and you can also wait here now, in case something opens up in the next 40 minutes.”


Silence.


“Do you want to take that chance?”


We did! We nodded gratefully.


And sure enough, in 10 minutes’ time his name was called and seven minutes after that he'd been diagnosed with poison ivy and sent on his way with the name of the magical relief-bringing cream. 


I think of all this now because I’ve recently been speaking with an RN friend who runs her husband’s medical practice. She was advising me how to help my grown daughter get an appointment with her own doctor sooner rather than later.


“Tell her to be very pleasant when she calls but also to say she needs to be seen. Then if she goes in there, she should be even more pleasant and wait patiently until someone can speak with her.”


I guess what she was saying is you really can show up and stand there with your foolish smile in hopes that they’ll work you in.


Just remember that if they do - IF THEY DO - it won’t be because you were just that nervy but because they were just that nice. 


Write Terry at terrymarotta@verizon.net or P.O. Box 270, Winchester, MA 01890. Visit her blog Exit Only at www.terrymarotta.wordpress.com to read fresh daily material or leave a public comment.