Saturday, April 10, 2010

how it's done

Everyone makes mistakes. And sometimes things go wrong that are not anyone's fault but someone has to take responsibility for making things right.

Over the last couple of years, I have come to realize that this is a deeply held value of mine, one I am trying to share with my kids. Mistakes don't necessarily make me angry but I can get royally pissed off profoundly annoyed when anyone - adult or child - tries to shirk responsibility. On the other hand, when people step up, acknowledge their mistakes and make a genuine effort to make things right, my resentment tends to evaporate entirely.

Some examples:

1. A few weeks ago, a received a notice from the Ottawa Public Library that a digital book I had ordered was ready for download. The same day, the library's new web site went live. When I tried to download my book - one I had requested months before - I found that all my requests had been deleted from the library site.

I was extremely disappointed. I immediately (and without much hope) sent an email to the library's tech department. The next day (a Saturday), I received an email informing me that they were aware of the problem and attempting to fix it. I was impressed with the rapid response.

The following Monday, I was sent another email explaining what had happened and that the problem had been fixed and informing me that I would be put to the top of the list for this book.

I was thrilled.

2. Last week end, my family ordered takeout from the Foolish Chicken. We have eaten there many times. Every experience has been extremely positive. This time, however, there was a mistake with our order.

We had ordered a ceasar salad with our family meal. When T. went to pick it up, he was asked if ours was the order with the ceasar salad and had confirmed. When we opened the boxes at home, though, we had a green salad.

I was tempted to let it go (the salad looked just fine to me) but S. had really wanted a ceasar salad, so I called the restaurant. My call was immediately transferred to the owner. He apologized profusely, explained what had happened (an order that was virtually identical - but for the salads - had gone out at the same time) and said that if T. were willing to come back and get the right salad, he would throw in some free dessert.

We were thrilled.

3. As I wrote in yesterday's post, I have asked for and received permission to cancel my chemo and herceptin treatments for April. However, when I arrived at the cancer centre last week, I discovered that my treatment for March had inadvertently been cancelled as well.

I went ahead with my bloodwork while staff attempted to figure out what had happened. Each person with whom I spoke (the staff on reception and the nurse who was trying to contact my doctor) made me feel as though they were working hard to get things sorted. A short while later, the woman who does the chemo bookings (someone I know to be extremely competent and accommodating) came to find me in the waiting room. She admitted, in front of a room full of people, that the mistake had been hers and that she had corrected it.

I was both relieved and impressed.

4. When I had my treatment that afternoon, the nurse administered the vinorelbine (the chemo drug, known in the US as Navelbine) right after the Demerol and Gravol (US readers know this as Dramamine). I promptly fell asleep. I woke up more than an hour later, thinking it would soon be time to go home.

Then the nurse came to hang my Herceptin, which takes ninety minutes.

Since the vino only takes ten minutes, I wanted to know what had been happening while I was sleeping. The nurse (not the same one who'd set up the vino) just shrugged and looked at me like she didn't understand the question.

I was too stoned and tired to push matters but I'm pretty sure that they'd just forgotten about me for a while. No one tried to explain or apologize and I was inordinately annoyed.

Mistakes happen. How we deal with our mistakes is what matters.


Rebe said...

Laurie, where I go for chemo it can't be started if we are sleeping. And there are all sorts of 'cross-checks' to ensure the right person is getting the drug. As for why your herceptin takes 90 minutes, it might be time to cross the border. The only 90 minute herceptin is the 'loading' dose, and as long as it hasn't been more then 6 weeks since the last herceptin, it's just 30 minutes.

Now if you'd like to try my doxil, it's one hour of fruit punch. I haven't had any side effects so far, but it doesn't appear to be working either. I need patience...

RivkA with a capital A said...

"The customer is always right" is a very American idea. It's one of the things I really miss.

Christine said...

Good for you for posting stories about when people 'get it right'.

I've been in disagreement with Euro-pro and Canadian Tire for some time now. I don't care about the product any more (I've moved on and purchased a 'new' 2nd hand vacuum) but I'm sincerely ticked that they provided such poor service and wouldn't take responsibility. This sort of thing drives me nuts! (You can read my rant at

laurie said...

Rebecca - that's interesting about the sleeping. I've been getting Herceptin for 3.5 years now. We have never switched to 30 min because I had such intense reactions to the first two doses (convulsing, spiking fevers, teeth chattering) that would cycle several times, even after I left the cancer centre (over the next few days). They don't think my body could handle getting Herceptin over a shorter period.