Working in a “customer service” job is stressful. We know that more than anyone. We perform in the customer service Olympics every day. We are customer service gurus.
Explore This IssueACEP News: Vol 28 – No 09 – September 2009
It is interesting that other customer service personnel, who work in apparently lower-stress occupations, find their work stressful as well. Waitresses, flight attendants, and receptionists complain that the customer service aspect of their job makes them weary.
I can relate. Give me a respiratory arrest, a patient with DKA, and a dislocated shoulder, and I’m energized. Make me deal with chronic back pain, an elderly lady who needs a social admit, and a demanding wannabe VIP, and I’m ready for a nap.
What is it about customer service that takes the starch out of us? In his book “Radical Honesty,” Brad Blanton suggests that it has to do with lying.
It’s not like telling your spouse that you went to a meeting when you really went to see the hot EKG tech you’ve been having an affair with. It’s more like having to say one thing when you are really thinking another. This is not good for us. Having an affair isn’t, either.
When the flight attendant says, “Yes, sir, that would be nice if they made these overhead bins big enough to hold that full-size suitcase; allow me to gate check that for you,” he really wants to tell the guy he is a complete dolt for not checking the bag. If he said it really loudly, the rest of the passengers would cheer and everyone would feel better. Of course, the flight attendant would get fired.
If this kind of stress shortens lives, and there is evidence that it does, then we must be taking 10 years off the life of every triage nurse in the country. The words “I’m sure that sunburn is uncomfortable, ma’am, and we’ll get you to the back as soon as we can” must take a few hours of your life right there.
I believe that each day, the triage nurses should get one freebie that they could not get fired over. They should be able to stand up and really lay it on some idiot: “Hey, pal. Apparently the word emergency is not in your limited vocabulary. Heart failure, level I traumas, young boys with testicular pain, and people bleeding to death get seen ahead of your chronic toothache. Sit down and shut up. We will get to you around 1 a.m.”