This article represents my own editorializing. Though it does cover serious issues, please, take it as it is intended: my commentary on the way in which the average person chooses to conduct, or fail to conduct, themselves on the job, how it may negatively impact those of us with disabilities and how we must make sure we rise above average. All constructive comments, positive or negative, are always welcome to any blog post, as an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or as an audio message left on the comment line at 206-350-6925.
Due to staffing needs, Karen’s employer has asked her to begin her shift 30 minutes earlier, at 7:30 AM. After experiencing a number of recent errors in data entry on the part of several Dial-A-Ride reservationists and, owing to the critical need for accuracy in the adjustment of this important appointment time, she wrote a quick note to the customer advocate asking that the necessary changes be made so that she could arrive at work on time to start the 7:30 shift beginning next Monday. She received the following answer.
I am in receipt of your email below. I cannot make changes in customer ride times. Please call the reservation department to request any changes you are in need of. The reservationists will be glad to assist you with your request.
Thank You Rose
Karen wrote the following in response to this unhelpful answer.
I will be more then happy to speak to the Reservationists to make the changes. However, I wanted you & Denise to be aware of the shift change since, as we all know, there have been issues of me arriving on time or, somehow, the pick up time or appointment times have been incorrect in your system. So, if management knows, there should be no excuses for me being late if all the data is entered in the computer correctly. After I call & make the changes, can you look to see if it is correct? Why can you not do this request? Thank you for replying to this message. If you think I should speak to Andrew , what is his extention / E-mail?
After learning of Rose’s unwillingness to simply step up to the plate and help Karen, I wrote the following in response.
In the past couple of weeks, we have spoken with reservationists about scheduling specific appointment times and canceling trips in advance. In a number of such cases now, appointment times and other data were incorrectly entered into your systems and your drivers have shown up to pick up Karen on days when we have canceled. It is becoming apparent that, especially in critical situations such as this, the reservationists are not to be trusted. Obviously, this shift change request involves an adjustment to Karen’s standing reservations. It is critical this get completed correctly. There are negative consequences only for Karen if this is done improperly, as your office rarely takes ownership responsibility for any errors made. We need these changes made correctly and promptly. Karen could be made late to work again. Do we need to go through another incident like the ones that took place at the beginning of this month? Karen wrote this message several hours ago. We don’t believe that, as customer advocate, you are not allowed to make these adjustments. In the past, under the old Atlantic Paratrans, it has been necessary and preferred to make critical changes like this with the customer advocate’s help. Yes. We do typically book trips with the reservationists. But, sometimes, when a serious issue like possibly being late to work is at stake, it would seem it is the responsibility of the customer advocate to help the customer, take ownership of the request for assistance, make sure it is completed and initiate additional communications as necessary to close the matter, rather than just stall and force it onto someone else’s plate. There’s a reason Karen wrote you and Denise, rather than going through the reservationists. Please, be proactive; give Karen a call this afternoon and step up to the plate to facilitate getting these changes made properly!
This situation is just one example of a very disconcerting, increasing trend I call the “not my job” mentality. Rose is saying that booking trips is not her job. Technically, she is correct. As customer advocate, however, she is responsible for taking complaints, resolving issues and accomplishing related tasks to insure the delivery of a quality service to the customer. Rose didn’t book the trip. She didn’t even hand off the information to a reservationist and insure its correct entry. She simply decided she didn’t want to help at all. It is always easier to avoid taking responsibility for anything that isn’t exactly part of one’s job description, to pass the buck on to someone else without even giving the matter a second thought. Sadly, this is exactly the mentality of the average, plain Jane person. Overall laziness and the “not my job” mentality are all over the place; we see it all around us. We thought that Rose was a decent customer advocate, that she just didn’t have enough power to make some of the positive changes we seek to insure the operation of Dial-A-Ride in a manner that avoids negative consequences to those of us with disabilities. Sadly, it seems we have been proven wrong yet again. She’s just average.
Despite the stereotypes and perceived limitations of blind people that are still largely believed by the majority of the average, general public, the “not my jobbers”, blind people like Karen, myself and many others excel! Karen is a member of her employer’s Distinguished Service Team and I was recognized as Employee of the Month for June. Why? The reasons are clear. We are most certainly not a member of the “not my jobbers” club. We operate with precision, pay attention to details and go above and beyond all calls of duty to do the absolute best possible job! We always strive to perform well above average, comparing our accomplishments only to those we have made in the past rather than to those of others around us. We compete with ourselves first, before competing with anyone else. We are thus extremely angered and frustrated when we must suffer the artificially imposed limitations and negative consequences caused by problems that could have been avoided had someone just decided to spend the time to listen to us completely, take us seriously and simply do the right things! I thus issue the following challenge: always be your best, go above and beyond the call of duty, take ownership of issues and take responsibility for your actions rather than simply passing the buck. Comments welcome as always.