The Raw Vegan: Part LXXV, Reality Bites

My boss called me into her office for a heart to heart. In my “elevated” position, I was no longer to have any close friendships with what had become my employees. One of the others and I had gone on day trips together here and there and that had to stop. It was my duty to be impartial. I could associate with people from other departments but I had to keep my distance with my own staff. I didn’t handle breaking the news well and my friend cried when I told her. After that, things were very cool between us—you might say professional.

I didn’t have a huge staff. There were less than a dozen of us but have you ever tried to make that many females happy? “You can make some of the people happy all the time and all of the people some of the time but you can’t make all of the people happy all the time.” That was certainly true in this case. I’d never had to deal with this before. It wasn’t my cup of tea but it was part of the job to drink it, anyway.

We did the billing and collecting and, contrary to popular opinion, not everything goes smoothly. Some of the claims were a piece o’ cake but some had to be billed and rebilled, over and over. I could still give you a list of problem accounts.

Then there were insurance companies to deal with. If I’d had a sticky problem before, I could pass it off to my boss but I was the boss now and the buck stopped here. Some days, it would seem like I was on the phone for hours with problems the staff didn’t have time to solve.

Credit balances were kind of fun, really, except for the Medicare ones. Medicare required a spreadsheet to be filled out with all sorts of documentation. The others, I could just request a check to refund the patient, if the balance went back to them, or to the insurance company. I tried to keep the list pretty well worked.

The real trial (it still is) was scheduling. I finally had to make the rule that no more than two people could be off at a time. With my shrunken staff and expanded hours, that has gone down to one. At lunchtime, at least two people had to be in the office. Now, they have to rotate. We were able to have a person for weekends but it was hard to find and keep someone who was willing to work only two days a week every week.

Interviews were/are in a class by themselves. I would start by sorting through the applications that would come in WHOMP! and weed out the ones that didn’t look promising. Once again, it’s important to fill them out completely, neatly and with good grammar. Some came with resumes but most didn’t. There was lots of padding—“I can answer the phone courteously.” “I’m a people person.” “I know how to operate office equipment.” “I’m punctual.” The reasons why they left their last place of employment were often very creative. They never came out and said they hated their jobs.

One woman I interviewed called me “Honey” and “Sweetie”. Big mistake. I don’t mind being called that normally, but in an interview situation, that can be the kiss of death. Very unprofessional. She also volunteered the story of her life. Too Much Infomation aka TMI.

When I’d tell the prospective employee that the hours were this and that and the days were such and such, I always heard, “Oh, yes! I can do that. I’ll be here every day I’m scheduled.” I’d warn them about the difficulty of learning all the ins and outs of the office. Another stock answer? “I’m a fast learner.” Sometimes yes and sometimes no.

We’d had an older woman in the weekend position before I took over as the BOM who had assured the boss she would work EVERY weekend without fail. If I had to come in and work on Sunday, she could be very distracting. She’d sit on the floor to do the filing in the bottom drawers and whistle and sing constantly. If the phone rang, she’d want me to answer it. I felt like telling her it was her job and ask what she would do if I weren’t there but I was a pushover. Then, she started asking for weekends off. Soon she quit.

We rotated for several weeks before someone else was hired and it was up to me as the BOM to hire her replacement’s replacement. From every applicant I got, “Oh yes! I’ll work every weekend, no problem.” Yeah, right. Finally, I settled on one person. She lasted about that long (snapping fingers). It was back to rotating again.

I was allowed to hire a PRN person and hit the jackpot that time. She was reliable AND a quick learner. My old position hadn’t been filled yet so I was working as the BOM, biller and collector. Finally, I could move the PRN person to full-time and she was perfect for my billing/collecting job. It wasn’t easy but she was up to the task.

There were some excellent staff members I couldn’t take credit for hiring. I had inherited them. It was a blessing that there were such good ones that were already trained. They were/are the backbone of the office.

Over the months, I hired several. Some worked out and some didn’t. It was definitely on-the-job training for them and me, too. I had/have to pray my way through every day. People might let me down but God never has.

DD was getting ready to graduate from academy. Over the course of the school year she had dyed her hair several times. It went from lightening her already light brown locks to blonde then went darker and darker until she settled on jet black. There were those who thought I should be scandalized by it but I figured it wasn’t illegal, immoral or fattening so why not let the girl alone? It wasn’t interfering with her life as a whole.

Before the term was out, she had been eating in the cafeteria and did something the orthodontist warned her never to do. She wrapped her retainer in a napkin and laid it on her tray. When she took the tray back, the retainer went with it and it was no more. When she called to tell me about it, I told her she would have to replace it herself. She and a friend went to the dumpster during a hard rainstorm and searched to no avail.

There was nothing to do but take her in and have her fitted with another one. When it was time to pay, the clerk looked at me and I indicated DD would be paying for it herself. She raised her eyebrows and I said, “It’s a Life Lesson.” Guess she thought I was cold hearted but that never happened again.

During the last few weeks of school, the campus was awash with recruiters for colleges. When I found out one had successfully lured DD, I was floored when I learned which educational institution he was representing. Talk about my little girl growing up!

2 Responses to The Raw Vegan: Part LXXV, Reality Bites

  1. Lila June 10, 2009 at 8:12 am #

    Tommie, it is amazing to me that you can remember all those details! ‘Scuse my ignorance – what is BOM?

    Your sister

    • Tommie June 10, 2009 at 6:13 pm #

      And I thought I was being rather general and just skimming over the top of things. 8) It occurred to me today that I had completely skipped the person I’d hired to begin with to take my place but I don’t think she reads my blog, anyway. It was later I hired the PRN person and she replaced HER, not me. And the BOM is Business Office Manager. My signon changed from 551_col2 to 551_bom. I can remember that because I typed it many many many times over the years.

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