It has been about 1.5 weeks since I last posted. You probably thought I’ve had more adventures on the ambulance. Wrong. Sorry to disappoint you, but I have no crazy stories to tell at all, at least nothing to do with patients. So what have I been up to? I did end my last post on a rather high note. I seriously thought everything was going to be smooth sailing after that hook up with the paramedics and having an unofficial ride-along. I was so wrong. Remember how V told me to contact the Unit Chief so I can get the ‘okay’ for more ride-alongs? Well here’s what happened…
February 12, 2009
Me (emailing a friend for advice):
So I’ve been trying to contact the Unit Chief at that station I went for a ride-along on sunday since monday and I can’t get a hold of him! I gave him a call on monday and left him a message…he didn’t reply so I tried calling another two times the days after, each time he doesn’t pick up. So then I sent him an email yesterday…I’m not sure how long I should wait for him to reply (this is so frustrating!) and I feel bad cuz Paramedic H agreed to take me around on his shifts but I don’t have his number so I feel like I’m leaving him hanging…And I don’t exactly want to bug V cuz she already did so much for me. But i guess now I don’t have much of a choice?
Anyways I’m just wondering if I should wait longer or if I should drop by the station on sunday, or give V a call saturday. I’m not used to dealing with superiors who don’t reply to email/phone calls…
Hmm…well, it’s really good that you’re following up so persistently, first of all! A lot of people might not, and then they end up losing out. If he’s the Unit Chief I’m sure it’s just because he’s superbusy, my friend’s supervisor at work gets like 400 emails a day and doesn’t even read them…
…I think at the least you could ask V for Paramedic H’s number, so you can call him and explain the hold-up…
So I give V a call to pass the word on to Paramedic H, (they were at a protest rally in Victoria due to the poor wages ($2/hr or $1o/hr) and poor station facilities etc etc.), V said she’ll pass the word on to him then give me a call back. She never called back, but I was fine with that. The guilt was off my shoulders. And so I wait for the Unit Chief’s email or call…
…and I wait…
…finally I was sick of waiting. I decided, hell, I’ll give him a call in the evening, perhaps then he’ll pick up.
Me: “Hi, may I speak to Michael Smith?”
Me: “Michael Smith.”
Woman: “I’m sorry, I think you got the wrong number.”
Weird. Maybe I did get the wrong number. So I try again…this time a guy picks up.
Me: “Hi, is this Michael Smith?”
Me: “Really? Is this 604-856-5833?”
Me: “Is this the ambulance station unit #XXX?”
Me: “Oh! Well I got this number on the Unit Chief’s business card…”
Man: “Well I’ve had this phone number for as long as I can remember. The business card must be wrong”
Smooth sailing hunh? Now this all made sense why he didn’t return my call, but seriously, putting the wrong phone number on your business card?!?!? I felt like the world was out to get me. Frustrated I tried all the numbers on his business card, and his pager worked. He said his name and told me to leave a message and name and he’ll get back to me. So I did so, only to find myself cut off before I can finish my message. So I call a second time, stuttering all the way through because I thought it will cut me off again. Yes, not very professional, but at least I know I got the right number. So he’ll call back soon right? I was hopeful.
WRONG AGAIN. At this point, I was seriously tired. I just wanted a reply. A “Yes” or a “No”. How simple could it get? So I talked to my friend again, and decided to pick up my nerves and go down to the station, knock on that magical silver door and deliver a letter personally. A letter that I wrote by hand. Now that sounds very simple, but to me, it’s not. Fact is, I’m a very shy person. Knocking on that silver door and not knowing who is behind it is to me, like knocking at a dragon’s lair. It’s outside my comfort zone. I also don’t do well with men in uniform. I get nervous (I know it’s strange if you consider that I talk to mma fighters and capoeiristas just fine). Especially when the last time I knocked a big tall guy answered the door and all his fellow crew mates, all five of them, who were chatting on the couch turned around and stared at me. Now I’m pretty short, and despite the man at the door being handsome, it didn’t help me feel less awkward as he loomed over me. They must have all been thinking, what does this little girl want?
When I say something and set my mind to it, I’ll do it. This was definitely a lot of effort to just get a reply. But I was addicted after that last ride-along. I wanted more. So I headed down there today, walked a long way from the skytrain to New Westminster to get to the station, knocked on the door, and once again, another big tall paramedic opened the door. I have never seen him before, he looked pretty cool with white hair fading into black hair and having it spiked. I asked if the Unit Chief was in or if Paramedic H was in. He said no. That the Chief was suppose to be in today, but he’s not at the station. How elusive is this chief? At least you can see mist, but I can’t even catch a glimpse or even the voice of this man. I asked if I can drop off a letter to him and explained a little bit about my situation. He said sure, and he also told me that Paramedic H will be in tonight at 6:30pm for the night shift. So I thanked him and left. Now that wasn’t so bad, except that I was stuttering when he first opened the door. It’s also hard to talk to someone who’s standing in front of you and you’re only up to their shoulder. I had to really crank my head.
The time was 1:30pm, 6:30pm was 5 hours away. Luckily I ended up meeting a friend who came downtown to study with me. So time passed by fast.
6:30pm. I had to knock on that silver door again. I suppose only the tall paramedics open the door because this guy was even taller than the last. I told him I wanted to talk to Parmedic H and he invited me in and we found Paramedic H in the bedroom (yah there’s bedrooms at the station, I thought the beds looked comfy).
Paramedic H: “Oh, are you here for a ride-along tonight?”
Me: “Yah that would be great if I can for a couple of hours. But I haven’t been able to contact the Unit Chief…”
Woops stupid me, should always mention the chief first before jumping to conclusions. I can see Paramedic H’s face change. (I still feel stupid for saying what I said, it wasn’t like I wanted to get him in trouble, but it sure sounded that way).
Paramedic H: “Oh…I think it’ll be better to get the Chief’s approval first.”
Flustered by my stupid words I said: “Yah you’re right, of course, I just haven’t been able to get a hold of him the whole week and his business card number is wrong.”
Seriously, Paramedic H is a nice guy. He got up from what he was doing and looked up the Chief’s schedule, told me that he’ll be working day shift tomorrow, that he was on some other car today, that’s why he wasn’t in. He also got the Chief’s real phone number and wrote it down for me and told me to give him a call tomorrow morning. While he was writing down the number for me, I noticed that the paramedic I talked to earlier taped my letter neatly onto the main desk. I wrote the Unit Chief’s name in nice big blue font on the letter. It stood out nicely, I don’t think the chief will miss seeing it tomorrow morning. I thanked Paramedic H and wished him a good night and left.
I think finally after making multiple calls, leaving many messages, and actually walking up and down ten whole blocks of New Westminster to drop off a letter and get the actual right phone number, I might have finally got the ball rolling again. Perhaps tomorrow I will finally get a chance to talk to this Unit Chief that has been so successful at eluding me. I also wonder if after all that effort, he’ll just call me and say, “Sorry, I don’t permit ride-alongs.”
I want to say persistence pays off, but the story hasn’t ended yet. I still have yet to hear from the Unit Chief. However, I did learn several things:
1. Never assume that the number on the business card is correct just because it is a business card.
2. Never assume that because the person you’re contacting is a person of authority, that he will be prompt in responding.
3. Never rely on others when you can rely on yourself.
(I should have gotten Paramedic H’s number before I left after the ride-along, then I wouldn’t have had to bother V and drop by the station personally to get the correct contact info)
4. Stepping outside one’s comfort zone isn’t as bad as the anticipation and thought of actually doing it.
5. If you really want something, go for it. Don’t let the hurdles stop you.