A Day at the Dentist

              Some time ago I had a root canal procedure at my
buddy’s dental office.  If you’ve never had one, you’re missing
a whole lot of fun (I’m kidding… it ain’t fun at all.)  
It’s not cheap, that’s for sure.  But like a lot of my customers
will tell me, “Well, it needed to be done.”

              I thought I was through with dental problems for awhile.
But, I was wrong, a few months later I had the same tooth ache
in the same tooth that was just worked on.  The crown he put on
was so tight he couldn’t get it off.  So instead he drilled thru the
cap and down into the nerve that was giving me a problem. 
Thankfully, I was completely numb and couldn’t feel a thing,
except when he actually hit the nerve… zowee!!!  Yep, that’s the spot alright. 

       My dentist is an old friend of mine, and we’re always kidding around with each other.  I fix his family cars, and he takes care of the family teeth. He even comes up to my place to do a little fishing now and then.  After the last needle was gouged into my gums and all the sharp instruments were safely put away, I thought I’d have a little fun with my buddy. I told him I really wanted to pull this little gag when I first walked into the waiting room. 

              Something like this:  Walk into the waiting room and start getting louder and louder.  Demand my money back for such a botched repair job.  Tell everyone within ear shot that I’m going to sue and call the Better Business Bureau.  Start stomping my feet and tell him how lousy a dentist he is, and that I’m never, ever coming back again… because… “It’s doing the same thing”

              I told him this is how some people will act when they come to a repair shop over similar situations.   He didn’t seem to like my little joke… I guess it didn’t sound as funny as I thought it did, but he did have a great comeback for me though.

              “There are several hidden avenues of problems that can’t be foreseen. Until you cross the original problem off the list of possibilities you just never know.  Even using the best diagnostics available things can still go wrong, but we always hope for the best results no matter what the situation.”  Wow, I should write this down. 

              Now old Doc, he’s a pretty sharp guy. Doc has a way of understanding people from the mental side of things as well as diagnosing and repairing.  Doc looks at things with a different outlook than I do. It’s a bigger part of the job than people realize.  His patients come in with a pain; he’ll diagnose the problem and make the correct repair.  I’ve got to admit I wouldn’t want to stick my fingers in everybody’s mouth all day long.  It’s not the job for me; I’ll stick to fixing cars.

              You can ask a patient, “Does this hurt?” and they’ll tell you.  Cars on the other hand don’t and can’t really answer that question.  The big difference is… my patient is the car.  It does talk to me, in a way, just not like a patient at the dentist office does.  I’ve got to figure out a way to make the car talk to me.  Then I have to inform the customer of the cost of the repair and hope there isn’t too much pain involved.  (I could use a little Novocain for the customer right about now.) When the dentist says… “This is going to cost you a thousand dollars”, and you’re sitting there, holding your hand against the side of your cheek, I guarantee, you’ll nod your head yes.  It’s just not that easy when it comes to car repair.

              Making a scene at the dentist office doesn’t seem like the smart thing to do, or for that matter, having an all out tantrum at the repair shop isn’t going to solve a thing either.  It’s a shame that some people feel the need to come “un-glued” over a car repair. It’s a car … we can fix it.  Honestly, a majority of the time I find the complaints about their cars are similar to my problem with my tooth ache.  Related yes, but not due to the previous repairs in the way they feel it is. 

             As a technician I have to assume the role of a doctor, and diagnose a problem quickly and accurately and do the best I can to avoid the “same thing” syndrome, but if it does happen just like it did with my root canal, work on how to repair it not make a scene.  Hey, things happen… who knows why… I know I don’t. Maybe using my dentist’s words of wisdom could help the next time something like this happens again.

              I did learn something new about dealing with bad situations from my buddy … that’s for sure.  I got a little more than a root canal that day.  I’m glad my dentist friend and I had our little talk.  He’s a great guy, a great dentist, and a good friend too. 

             So the next time I have a tooth ache I’ll make an appointment.  I know it’s going to cost me money, I know it’s going to be painful, but I know I can’t take care of it myself.  Car repair should be the same way. 

              I’m sure when I finally get to the dentist office and I’m sitting in that chair, he’s going to pull out one of his sharp pointed instruments and start probing around and ask, “Does this hurt?”  I know exactly what I’m going to do.  I’m only going to nod my head… open wide… and pay the bill.