It has been a very busy week, and we haven’t even gotten to J.’s retirement festivities, which begin later today with a party at work. I believe there may be cake, but if there is, I imagine I will pass. My sugar moderation is still in full swing, to my amazement. My whole identity is in question.
In case you missed it, yesterday was GivingTuesday, a day highlighting the importance of donating money or time. It’s no coincidence that GivingTuesday follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I volunteered at Canadian Blood Services on Monday but I don’t know if people are allowed to bank their weekly donated hours toward the Tuesday.
I tried to think of a way to give on Tuesday, but was at a loss. I had too much on the go that day. Then I received a call from a new client (Hallelujah!), who was clearly in distress. She wanted to set an initial appointment for later this week when her insurance coverage would kick in. I gave her a pep talk to tide her over, booked her for Friday at her request, and hung up.
I certainly could have handled that better. In fact, I was utterly selfish for no reason at all. I didn’t stop to consider the best needs of this client, who was in crisis and needed to see someone ASAP. Sitting around and stewing about her distress for a few more days would not have helped her in any way. And I had the time to squeeze her into my unusually frantic day. Why didn’t I think of that when I had her on the phone?
So I called this dear young woman back and told her if she could get to my office promptly, before my day moved into full gear, I was available to see her that morning without payment. Of course that offer made her cry even more, but hopefully those were happy tears. She needed some help so, after completely blowing it, I decided to step up.
I am not the hero of this story. A hero wouldn’t have hung up the phone first before realizing her mistake; a hero would have booked the client in immediately. This wasn’t a day to quibble about money but a day to help someone in acute distress get back on her feet. I needed to show this woman I was committed to helping her get well. Do you think I care about one measly unpaid session? Payment has always been the icing on my counselling cake, but I honestly prefer the cake, despite the Great Sugar Revolution.
This new client, my first in months, arrived right on time. We had a great first session, at least from my perspective. She is every psychologist’s dream client–motivated, open, insightful, and hard working. And unlike me, she must have remembered the charitable holiday because she left me with a tremendous gift, whether she knew it or not: she reminded me that I may have something to offer someone in need. Who could ask for anything more?