Years ago, in my salad days, I took a new marketing job after being interviewed by a gentleman who seemed as nice as anyone I had ever met in a workplace. It didn’t take me long to learn my new boss’s friendly smile, and the words that came out of his mouth, only masked a hidden agenda that he hoped naive-me would help him fulfill.
The first clue that things were not as they seemed came when I was asked to sign off on some media invoices, in effect, giving Accounts Payable my approval to pay the agency that had submitted them. Even though media invoices didn’t fall within my purview, I reviewed them with the intent of signing them… after all, my boss had asked me to sign them. I just needed to know what I was signing. It didn’t take me long to realize the numbers didn’t add up. A couple of phone calls, and a little due diligence uncovered the distinct probability that the agency that submitted the media invoices was paying my boss under the table. Of course, if HE signed those approvals, there would be evidence against him – that’s why he had told ME to sign them.
I was so upset at the revelation that it made me sick – literally sick to my stomach. After a lot of fretting and soul searching, I took the invoices back to my boss, and made some feeble excuse about why I could not sign them. He grabbed them out of my hand, very upset with me. “I didn’t tell you to review them! I only told you to sign them!” he exclaimed. It wasn’t the only time he wasn’t happy with me, but wouldn’t or couldn’t provide a plausible explanation.
It was the first time in my life that I realized that someone else was trying to “use” me for his own hidden agenda. I’m sure there had been times someone had used me before – but naive-me wasn’t aware of it then. Over the next few years this scenario was repeated a handful of times – never anything I could prove, but always just disturbing enough.
Eventually I changed jobs, then later started my own business knowing that my own agenda is the only one I ever care to dance to.
I was reminded of that experience recently when I was contacted by a patient who knows of my work through About.com (now called VeryWell.com), but didn’t realize I also work with APHA. She sent me a half dozen emails in one day. She left three messages on my toll free phone number (which, by the way, is reserved for advocates and media and expressly states that patients should not leave messages because I will not help them by phone. She was clearly desperate for help.)
I returned her email, sent her a few links appropriate to the questions she had asked, and suggested she connect with a patient advocate through the AdvoConnection Directory.
She not only replied to my email, but phoned me twice more. She told me “there’s nothing in those links that helps me! I need YOU to talk to me! Someone with YOUR STATUS is the only way I can get what I need!”
I replied once again by email, suggesting again that she needed an advocate to help her sort out the issues, in order to get the help she needs.
Her reply was, “I tried talking to a patient advocate, but,” (and these are the telltale words….) “She wouldn’t do what I told her to do!”