Time: 9am, yesterday
Location: on the phone
"Good afternoon, this is the dental clinic."
"Hi, I'm experiencing some tooth pain and would like an appointment."
"The next available appointment is 1200."
"Oh, I've got class at that time. Do you have an available appointment for some time after 1:00?"
"Sir, I can only offer you the next available appointment. If you want a later appointment, you will have to call back later."
"Really? But I'm on the phone with you right now."
"Yes sir, that is our policy. I can only offer you the next available appointment. You'll have to call back later if you want a later appointment."
"How do I know you'll have an opening later when I call back?"
"Oh, I'm pretty sure there will be an opening."
"Then doesn't that mean there's an opening now? Why don't you just give it to me this time, instead of later?"
"Sir, it's our policy that I can only give you the next available appointment. You will have to call back later to get a later appointment."
"Actually, I can't call back later. I'm going to be in class from 10 until 1, and this is already the second time I called to try to make this appointment. Did I mention the tooth pain?"
"Do you want to talk with a supervisor?"
(Supervisor gets on the phone - a different person than the supervisor I spoke with on Wed, who gave me the same "it's our policy" line. I re-explain the situation.)
"Sure, I can get you in at 1:40 - that's the last appointment for the day."
"That would be great. Thank you so much."
Questions for discussion
Can you imagine any reason whatsoever for the policy on appointments?
What sort of magical powers are required to become a supervisor, enabling one to disregard the reasons from the previous question?
Do you think the supervisor knows about the policy, or is the phone person just making it up?
Who is responsible for this situation: the person who makes the policy, the person who follows the policy, both, neither, or someone else (me, perhaps)?
Bonus Zen Question: If the only appointment offered is at a time the patient cannot attend, has an appointment actually been offered?
(PS - They checked me out, took some X-rays, and I'm scheduled for a 90-minute filling replacement on 7 Nov. Yippee!)