Lessons Learned

It happened to him too.

lessons learned

It Happened to Him Too

Some staff members provide golden moments. Others throw them out.

Jack Runninger, O.D.

Last month's column was headlined “I Hired Some Real Lulu's.” It described the lousy employees I had hired before I learned better. Oddly, just three weeks before it was published, I received the following missive from Julian Crowder, O.D., of Biltmore Lake, N.C. on the very same subject. It's too good not to pass on, so the rest of the column is in Dr. Crowder's words:

I read the articles in all the journals stating how valuable one's staff is and how they are indispensable to the practice and how whoever writes the article has the best staff in the world and how their practice never encounters any glitches and blah, blah, blah.

The only one?

All those glowing articles about staff made me wonder if I have been the only optometrist who has occasionally hired the few crazy staff members who exist. Let me cite a few examples.

An optician I hired came with a superlative resume and recommendations from an ophthalmology department of a famous university in the Northeast. Of course, with such a background as this, I hired him on the spot. When he arrived at work, one of the first jobs was to insert new lenses in a patient's metal frame. I showed him the door five minutes later after I found him putting the metal frame in the glass beads to exchange the lenses!

He got the screen

I used to lecture on different optometric topics in my region. As such, I had photographic slides (remember them?) which accompanied me as I went from location to location. One day prior to a lecture, I realized I had brought my projector but not the projector screen. When I mentioned to my staff that I had the projector, but not a screen, one of them said “I have a screen in my car!” Thinking to myself as to what the chances are of that, I said I would like to borrow her screen. I was dumbfounded when she produced a screen for a marijuana pipe.

When going on vacation, I wanted the staff to stay busy in my absence. One of the projects was to clean up and organize the supply/storage room. I was heartbroken upon my return when one of the staff told me she had disposed of the boxes that were filled with “old, out of date metal frames.” Those boxes contained old gold frames (yes, gold frames used to have real gold in them) I had been acquiring for years in order to send them to a refinery. I still don't know how much money I lost in those frames.

Better never than late?

How about the staff member who showed up one morning in her bathrobe and wet hair because she “had overslept”?

How about the staff member wondering why all the water was on the rug after watering an artificial ficus tree?

How about the staff member who returned from lunch and forgot to turn her car off? By the time she remembered her mistake and went out to turn her car off, it had been stolen.

I just wanted to let those optometrists who write the glowing articles about their staff, know that the reason their staff is so great is that I hired all the crazy ones so they didn't have to. OM