If you want it done right…

…well, it will never be done right.

I pay for many services, as most people do. I pay a doctor to look at my aches and pains, I pay a dentist/orthodontist to work on my teeth, I pay a contractor to install my new kitchen, etc. It turns out that almost every time the person I pay doesn’t do all the work I’m paying for. My dentist couldn’t be bothered with taking xrays, so the ‘helper’ does that … my orthodontist apparently needs an assistant to install a rubber chain on my braces … my contractor is actually at my house for about 5% of the work.

I guess I wouldn’t mind if these ‘helpers’ had the same care and expertise as The Main Man. They never do. The orthodontic assistant, who does about 75% of the work on me, is both careless and error prone. Needing three tries to correctly install my latest chain band. If this is what you do, if this is your career, if I’m paying you to do a specialize service, you better be good .. no, you better be amazing. I can probably get good for free from my friends or even do it myself. I expect the service I get from these experts to be above and beyond what I could likely do (with zero training/practice).

Over my recent trip to LA, the chain band that was install (by the assistant, of course) before I left began to cut into my gums and cause severe pain and irritation. To the point where the inside of my cheek was inflamed and swollen. I made an emergency stop at a local orthodontist and had him take a look. He immediately saw the problem and quickly removed the band which was the cause. Looking at the band he said it was poorly cut, leaving a sharp edge which would irritate my mouth.

I returned home and made an appointment with my orthodontist to replace whatever was removed. Of course, the receptionist wanted me to explain to her the entire situation, as if she has the medical degree. Rather than telling her that she is unqualified, I explained. Her conclusion, ‘Ok, we can see you Wednesday’.

When I arrived this morning, precisely at my scheduled time, I was told ‘the doctor will see you in a moment, please have a seat’. I waited about 5 more minutes and was greeted by one of the many ‘assistants’. She had me sit down and the first thing she said to me was, ‘which side is it on?’ I laughed out loud. Is this really the best she can do? Well, since the band had been removed, it was actually in my pocket. Do I really want someone working on me that doesn’t even know where THEY installed the band, only two weeks earlier? Ugh.

My laughter spurred her to jump in with, ‘ok, I’ll find it.’ Great, but isn’t that your job anyway? Double ugh.

She looks around and says, ‘oh, the band fell off. That’s fine, I’ll install a new one.’ Maybe you should be asking me what happened? Nah, you’re too good for that, I guess. Probably the world’s best assistant, right?

She immediately leaves, then returns, says, ‘Open’ and begins to work on my mouth. Well, I guess she’s a paid expert, right? I know nothing about orthodontics, so she must be right. I let her do her thing. She fumbled the band twice, slipping and hitting me in the cheek with the instrument she is holding. I sort of giggle and roll my eyes at her incompetence. She continues, and after a few more tries, seems to be done.

She then asks, ‘how’s that?’ I laugh out loud again. I’m her quality control? I say, ‘Feels fine to me, but I’m not the expert. It felt fine last time.’ She relies, ‘I’ll have the doctor take a look.’ … finally! An actual expert.

He makes his way over and talks at me non-stop. No questions, just tells me how it is. Apparently ‘these things fall out all the time’ and ‘don’t worry, it’s no big deal.’ After a 2-3 minute monologue, I’m forced to jump in, ‘Well, that’s not what happened.’ I begin to tell him my history, when he steps on my words and continues his monologue of ‘ok, so here’s what we’ll do’. I firmly say, ‘let me finish, please. You’ll be able to better treat me if you know the whole story.’ He seems somewhat amazed that I didn’t really want to listen and that I may be able to say something beyond, ‘thank you’.

I tell my whole story, even showing him the band which I had removed and pointing to where the problem had been. He says, ‘oh, it was probably a loose wire, we’ll get that too.’ Triple ugh.

So now I realize I need to tell the experts what to do. I tell him to cut the band more closely and smoothly, explaining that the sharp, square cut used last time is not ideal in this situation, where the band is directly against my cheek. He tells the assistant to remove the band she installed and cut it as I explained. Now she is pissed, but does the job – with a huff-and-puff which reminded me of a schoolyard.

Well, I have the band in now, and it feels better than last time, but I won’t know for a couple days.

So, if you want something done right, you probably want too much.