10 Royal Reasons for Temping

Sept. 1, 1999
We live in a world of duality, a spectrum of opposites. Humans, it appears, must be able to compare hot-cold, good-bad, light-dark, happy-sad, bone loss-no bone loss, and gross calculus-no calculus in order to find our center, our place of balanced perspective. The January 1999 issue of RDH listed "10 good reasons why I can`t temp today (by Joanne I. Sheehan, RDH)." I laughed as I read it; yep, I`ve been there, done that! But I have had a couple of outstanding experiences recently as a substitut

There are some nice perks to being a queen for a day.

Gayle Lawrence, RDH

We live in a world of duality, a spectrum of opposites. Humans, it appears, must be able to compare hot-cold, good-bad, light-dark, happy-sad, bone loss-no bone loss, and gross calculus-no calculus in order to find our center, our place of balanced perspective. The January 1999 issue of RDH listed "10 good reasons why I can`t temp today (by Joanne I. Sheehan, RDH)." I laughed as I read it; yep, I`ve been there, done that! But I have had a couple of outstanding experiences recently as a substitute hygienist. So, in honor of balancing the scale, I`ll offer my "10 royal reasons why you should temp today."

So, before you read any further, dig out those tarnished old crowns, polish them up, and place them on your pretty little hygiene heads! You, too, can be crowned - queen for a day!

But first, we must thoroughly understand the term queen and all that it denotes. A queen is a female monarch. She rules, she`s in charge, and she calls the shots. One of the most important words in a queen`s vocabulary is the word, "No." So, practice this. In a clear and commanding voice say, "No," three times out loud. Felt good, didn`t it?

A responsible queen will educate those offices that dare call at six in the morning with their plaintive cries for help. Hearing, "No, no, noooo...," spoken with conviction into the receiver before you hang up will certainly do the trick. Once the early morning offenders are banished, we can then focus our attention on those offices that display the proper honor and respect. Here are 10 royal reasons why you might choose to spend a day as a substitute hygienist in an office that meets with your royal approval.

The Queen`s Dictum 1

All subjects must be humble

A very cheerful, pleasant receptionist calls you several days in advance. She asks if you might be available on such and such date. You like the tone of her voice. It`s somewhat humble. You can tell that she`s almost holding her breath, awaiting your answer. That powerful "no" word would dash her hopes and crumple her spirit like discarded wrapping paper. Their hygienist just called to say that her mother is having surgery this Thursday and she wants to be with her. This receptionist has a full day of patients, no hygienist, and nowhere to move them. The queen rules, you have the power to make or break her day. Take your time, think it over, and ask more questions before you give your ruling.

The Queen`s Dictum 2

Show me the money!

Queens are usually associated with wealth and abundance. Let`s face it, an office with a full schedule and no hygienist needs you more than you need it. An honorable queen is compassionate and sensitive to those in need. But your time and your day off are very valuable indeed. Too many queen-wannabes meekly accept what they are told they will be paid for working on their day off, then feel annoyed when it is less than they feel they are worth. When true queens claim their power, they honor themselves. Ask for and expect compensation that justifies giving up your day and perhaps driving further than usual to help out.

The Queen`s Dictum 3

Is your office in my kingdom?

Speaking of driving further than usual, a needy office may be 40 to 50 minutes away. They sound wonderful and will pay you a very healthy hourly fee. Some queens just don`t relish the thought of heavy road congestion in the morning or getting back to the castle a lot later than normal. Especially if they have little princesses and princes waiting for them. You are in a position to decide if you want your first patient at 8 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9 a.m., etc. If they normally work until 6 p.m., putting you back home at close to 7 p.m. after battling the rush hour, speak up. If it`s not to your liking, make a decree! It`s been my experience that, when the queen speaks, others listen. If not, throw them into the dungeon.

The Queen`s Dictum 4

Clear the crowded chamber

On this particular day, you create your own reality! Overbooked, scheduled too tightly, extra patients stuck into the schedule - this sounds pretty normal, doesn`t it? Well, a queen is in a position to give the guidelines regarding scheduling. If adult prophys every 30 minutes are not your style, request that they move a few patients and stretch out the schedule somewhat. Wise people don`t disagree with a queen; they could be beheaded.

The Queen`s Dictum 5

Variety is the spice of my life!

My goodness, ruling the same kingdom all the time can become tedious and boring. Queens need diversion and variety to keep their lives interesting. Lunch with a fellow queen in her kingdom, riding to the hounds, a vigorous game of lawn croquette, or perhaps spending a day working in a new and different dental office can be like a breath of fresh air. Consider it an adventure!

The Queen`s Dictum 6

Tell me something I don`t know

Successful queens usually consider themselves to be wise and very knowledgeable. Sometimes to the point of - should I delicately say - being close-minded and assuming that another office would have nothing of value for them. Consider the possibility that, by spending a day in a new office, you might actually learn something new and creative that would benefit you in your own practice. I mean, it might seem really far-fetched to you but it could feasibly happen! You will never know for sure though unless you test out this theory.

The Queen`s Dictum 7

Here`s something you don`t know

Possibly you are one of those queens who has been ruling for awhile. You are rich with the wisdom of years of experience. Here is a tremendous opportunity for you to mingle with the masses so to speak. Consider what they might learn from you, something so simple and routine that you don`t even think twice about it. But, to them, it could be like a revelation! This is routine queen stuff, making proclamations that causes everyone to "ooooh" and "ahhhh."

The Queen`s Dictum 8

Give me new kingdoms to conquer

Survey new territories, both far and near. Queens sometimes need to go on journeys into adjoining kingdoms just to check things out. Maybe the castle you`ve called home doesn`t suit you anymore. The surroundings don`t give you pleasure, it`s not a comfortable space, and the staff ... heaven forbid! Maybe you`re at a point where an entirely new castle, complete with fresh décor, and an entirely new staff is the only acceptable solution. Being willing to visit other castles and meet the staff could guide you to find a hidden jewel to place in your crown.

The Queen`s Dictum 9

Work always comes before mother-in-law

You agreed to have lunch with your ex-mother-in-law and her sister next Friday. What could you say? She knows it`s your day off. After all these years, she has never acknowledged your royal station. You feel like Cinderella in her presence, that is, before you found the slipper! Then out of the blue, an office calls, desperate for a hygienist next Friday (are you getting the drift of this?). They meet all your criteria, and you readily agree to work. Being the true queen that you are, you respond to an office in need. Your sense of duty and service necessitate canceling the luncheon. I think this sounds pretty good, don`t you?

The Queen`s Dictum 10

Let me feel that crown again

After a period of time, queens may begin to feel taken for granted, unappreciated, and question their value in relation to their subjects and kingdoms. A positive and healthy prescription for the blahs experienced by a queen may be to sit on another throne for a day. An entirely new realm of subjects recognize your nobility. They are respectful and may actually show up on time for their appointments. The office may be full of staff members eagerly awaiting your arrival. They gaze upon you with awe as you float through the door and speak your first words: You may all rise now. Catering to your every wish, they hover around you, beg to develop your X-rays, clean your room, scrub your instruments, and extend an invitation to lunch. Ah yes, this beckons forth an ancient memory, one long forgotten. So grab your stepladder and climb back up on that pedestal - the one you fell off of a long time ago. Relish in those surprise opportunities to be treated like a queen. It keeps the spirit healthy.

So there you have it. Consider my 10 suggestions and you might create for yourself some very rewarding temporary work situations. My past two substitute situations have been terrific! Due to the fact that I have become clear on what is acceptable to me and what is not. I truly was treated like a "Queen for a Day" and paid exceptionally well for my time. One of the offices sent me a beautiful flower arrangement with a gracious thank-you note and an invitation to call them should I ever want to make a permanent change. Not only did it make me feel like a million dollars; it reconnected me with my sense of worth as a hygienist. I obviously displayed a level of expertise, competency, and exceptional communication skills that did not go unrecognized. Yes-sireeee, that was enough to keep my queenly crown sparkling like diamonds for quite a few weeks afterward!

Gayle Lawrence, RDH, is a practicing hygienist in Ashland, Ohio. An avid traveler and nature lover, she has started a travel group for hygienists called Journeys of Discovery. Her next journey is to Peru-Machu Picchu Oct. 6-16. If you would like to swim with wild dolphins (August 2000), Caribbean Humpback Whales (February 26-March 4, 2000), see wildlife in Africa (Sept. 2000), or explore Egypt and more, contact Lawrence at (419) 281-2887; e-mail: [email protected]