Saturday, December 02, 2006

Living In DC: You Have To
How many times a day, a week, or a month do I hear "you have to..." from store employees and other customer-service front line people as they're about to guide me to what I'm asking for? Much too frequently, I'm finding. Today's incident happened at Kaiser Permanente, where I went for my flu shot.

The guard at the front desk did start promisingly by asking "may I help you?"

"Which floor are the flu shots on?"

"Oh no, they're not doing that anymore. It stopped on the 20th. You have to call your doctor for an appointment."

I'll attempt to be somewhat positive about this, and consider some other responses he could have given me, responses not placing everything on my shoulders, which I feel "You Have To" does.

How about:
"I'm sorry to say the walk-in flu shot clinics are no longer given on the weekends. However, your primary care physician will be glad to make sure you get one. Just call for an appointment. I can give you the phone number if you'd like."

"Unfortunately, the last weekend clinic was on the 20th. But if you'd like to wait, I can call upstairs and see if there's anyone who can help you."

Or even:
"The last walk-in clinic was on the 20th. But if you go to after-hours care on the third floor, they may be able to help you schedule one for the near future."

Heck, I'd even settle for a "sorry you had to come all this way for nothing" after the original "you have to blah blah blah."

"You have to" says to me "Whatever it is you want, you can't get it here, and even if you can, I'm not going to give more than a bare minimum of help for it, because it's just not my job to help you more than that."

Last week, I got "you have to" at the post office, where I was told "you have to stand over there and put these stamps on the envelopes." I heard it in an office building lobby, when a security guard said "you can't sign in all those people under your name. They have to sign in themselves." And I get it when I'm swiping my debit card at the doctor's office, and the receptionist says "you have to wait until I pull up the program. Try it again."

I'd be glad to. Could you also try again?

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