If you're reading this, you know all about communication. It needs not be defined. We all understand it. At least, that's what I used to believe.
A couple of months ago, I went on a dream trip. It was one I was really looking forward to and had done my homework before departing. Back in April, when booking the trip, I had some thoughts that it would be wise to purchase trip insurance. You know, to be reimbursed if the airlines or cruise liners would happen to be on strike, or perhaps the dock workers. I honestly never thought of illness as a reason to make this purchase.
Well, that's all history, and I didn't get to go on the cruise. Aha! Now this insurance comes into play. Once home, the travel agent, who had been notified by the tour guide of my misfortune, contacted me and informed me I would be getting a full reimbursement of the trip and that any expenses I incurred above which my personal medical insurance did not cover (up to $50,000.00), would be taken care of with the trip insurance. They would also pay for my cab fare to LaGuardia and my one-way airline ticket. All I needed to provide was the discharge papers from the hospital.
Okay, I called the hospital and asked for a copy of my discharge papers. After being passed from department to department, I was told I needed to send a letter requesting such. So, I wrote one and sent it October 24. And then I waited and waited and waited, each day expecting the document to arrive in my mailbox. When I hadn't heard by November 16, I made another phone call. Again, I was transferred around until a Miss Wallace took my call. After telling her my situation, I could hear her shuffling papers - shuffling and shuffling. At last she said, "Oh, here it is (my letter). This just appeared on my desk today." [Right.] "What is it you are requesting?" I told her I needed the discharge papers - the papers that state I was officially released from the hospital - that I didn't just walk out. Then she told me she would get them sent to me and I would be invoiced $.75/page. Okay. Fine.
Again, I waited and waited. November 23rd I called Miss Wallace. I told her I had yet to receive the discharge papers. "What is your name? What is it you need?" Again, I told her. "I'll have them sent to 'Copy' and you should receive them in a couple of days," she stated. I told her thank you and wished her a Happy Thanksgiving.
By November 28, I had received nothing from the hospital so I called again. Repeat the above paragraph, without any wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving. What in my communication is not getting through? What skills do I lack?
Yesterday I called the hospital again. I asked to speak to Miss Wallace's supervisor and was told Miss Wallace was the only one who could help me, so I was transferred to her. Again, I told her my name and she asked what I wanted. Patiently, I told her that I had called at least twice before and what I needed. I heard her shuffle through papers and then she said, "I sent that to 'Copy' last week. There's nothing more I can do." I asked her if I could talk to someone in "Copy" and she surprised me by transferring me to them.
Well, Curtis, from Africa (I'm guessing), answered the call and attempted to ask me what I needed. I explained my situation and he said he would check on it. " Would I hold?" Of course. He came back to the phone and said he didn't understand what I wanted and then he proceeded to read (verbatim) my entire written letter from October 24. "Yes, that's what I need," I exclaimed. "I need the papers that show I have been officially released from your hospital." "What do you mean by 'release papers'?" he asked. Oh boy, my patience were running out. I could think of no other way to communicate to him. THANKFULLY, he put me on hold. After about a minute or two, a woman came on the line. She was a supervisor and said the papers I needed would be coming to me in a couple of days.
I knew it was too soon to expect them today, so when I picked up the mail today I didn't even look through it for them. But upon reaching my door, what to my surprise was a UPS Next Day Air Letter pouch with 95 pages of my medical records! I've spent over an hour tonight looking through them (many seem like duplicates to me), but I have singled out what I think will satisfy my trip insurance folks so my claim can officially be started. What an ordeal!