Today’s Dentistry – When Things Go Wrong

For the last four months we have shared clinical information. We’re going to switch it up this month and talk about something we all experience on a daily basis – things that go wrong.

I was driving north on I-5 several weeks ago, enjoying the ride when, “CRACK!!!” A large rock chip with the accompanying cracks now graced my windshield. To make matters worse, the rock had struck the glass right in front of the steering wheel, impairing my vision. “Well,” I thought, “now I know what I’m doing this weekend!”

I have never had to deal with a windshield replacement, so I googled ‘windshield repair’ and started perusing the many repair providers. There weren’t many reviews for any of the repair shops, so I made a few phone calls, asking for references. After a little research, I settled on a mobile repair service. He would come to my place of work, fix my windshield, and I wouldn’t have to worry about going anywhere out of my way. Easy.

Except that the job wasn’t done quite right. The glass looked great. The rubber seals looked fine. However, when driving on the freeway, there was a loud wind noise that had never been present before, coming from the top center of the windshield. Grrrrr! Of course, I thought that if I ignored it for a few days, it might go away. No luck.

So I called the glass man. He was great! We met, he checked it out and made some adjustments, and said if it wasn’t just right, to let him know and he would redo the entire windshield. I’m happy to say it’s been working fine since then.

I like this story because it illustrates some important concepts when working with people – something all of us do, every day. The first is that sometimes stuff just happens. It really was no one’s fault that a rock hit my windshield. Sometimes undesirable things just happen. When we recognize this, it is easier for us to process what just happened without getting upset and having our day ruined. We are also less likely to view the world as a threatening and dangerous place, and feel like we have a target on our backs. We accept that it happened and move on, instead of getting bogged down by the event.

The second concept is that nobody is perfect. We have good days. We have bad days. We have days when something unforeseen and beyond our control affects the way we interact with others. When we can accept that we ourselves are not perfect and that those around us are not perfect, we are much more willing to be patient, forgiving, and to try and see the world from their perspective. Indeed, a realization and acceptance of our human imperfection helps us to treat one another more humanely.

The third concept is that this windshield repairman had the opportunity to accept that something in the work he had done wasn’t correct and to do what needed to be done to make it right. Each of us has been in a similar circumstance, either as the provider or as the recipient. As recipients, we have the opportunity to extend patience, mercy, and understanding when things don’t go as smoothly as we hope they will. We go back to concept #2 and allow them to be imperfect, to be human, as we are. As providers, we can take responsibility and do what needs to be done to “make things right” if there are shortcomings in what we have provided.

Because of how he handled the complication with my windshield, I am much more likely to refer someone to him now, than I was when I simply saw his work. He treats people right and he takes responsibility for his work.

My hope is that we can learn from our experiences and improve our ability to communicate with one another. Best wishes for a wonderful day :^)