As first graders, my kids are right around the age where it’s common to start losing teeth. And, like many things, it has a way of turning into something of a competition (among both kids and parents).
“Chloe has already lost four,” said one mom, as a group of us stood outside the school waiting for dismissal. “But I shouldn’t be surprised – she got her first tooth at four months!”
I rolled my eyes as discreetly as I could.
Chloe, however, wasn’t the only periodontal prodigy. It turns out two more kids in the class sprouted teeth early as babies. As much as I wanted this discussion to lose steam, it didn’t, and soon I faced the inevitable question of when Austin and Scarlett starting teething.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” I said. And it’s the truth. Perhaps I can chalk it up to the sleep deprivation I endured as a mom of premie twins. But more likely, this fact simply wasn’t committed to memory, because it wasn’t all that significant.
What does stick in my mind are the milestones that really mattered, like when they were discharged from the NICU, when they were cleared by their physical therapist, when they took their first steps. And then there’s the date I’ll never forget:
That’s the day we were told my son no longer needed his apnea monitor. He hadn’t experienced any bradychardiac episodes for 6 weeks, and his doctors were confident that his lungs had grown strong enough. For me, it meant finally disposing of the belt that had to be fastened to his chest to ensure accurate readings. Although it weighed just a few ounces, getting rid of it felt like an enormous weight had been lifted.
It wasn’t so much the monitor itself that brought on so much stress, but what it represented – how vulnerable my little guy was, being born via emergency C-section and weighing less than four pounds.
At least, that should’ve been the case. But in reality, the monitor — and its constant need for maintenance — most certainly caused me to lose sleep. As I wrote about in a previous blog, the lack of reliable support in how to use the rather clunky device was appalling. When the machine beeped incessantly (and extremely loudly) because it wasn’t getting a read, there was no way to get a quick answer. The only solution was to turn the machine off while waiting for a call back from a representative (this, by the way, often took hours). When you turn the machine off, by the way, it leaves a gap in the data that can cause issues at the next doctor appointment.
In terms of both quality of the product and customer service, the company failed us. And so one day, rather than relying on Google searches for help in fastening the belt correctly, I decided to call the hospital in which my children were born — the one that discharged my son, along with the machine. I quickly found out that if you’re no longer a patient, the hospital couldn’t do anything to help, unless he was in distress.
“He’s not, but I am,” I said, half-jokingly. Instead, they suggested I contact the company. I wasn’t asking for replacement parts, mind you — I needed guidance. I needed support. What I got was an excuse about it being a third party. They couldn’t even give me a contact person. Instead, they passed the buck.
At least, that’s how it felt to me.
I thought of this recently for two reasons: the first being the anniversary of Austin being monitor-free (six years today!), and the second being an article I read recently on the struggles faced by many Amazon drivers. The company, according to Business Insider, delivered more than 5 billion Prime packages in 2017. But it seems the cost of this convenience far exceeds the $119 members pay annually for two-day shipping.
Through discussions with 31 current or recently employed drivers, Business Insider uncovered “a variety of alleged abuses, including lack of overtime pay, missing wages, intimidation, and favoritism. Drivers also described a physically demanding work environment in which, under strict time constraints, they felt pressured to drive at dangerously high speeds, blow stop signs, and skip meal and bathroom breaks.”
Makes you think twice about that membership, right?
Interestingly, however, when a link to the piece was published on LinkedIn, several individuals were quick to point out that many of these incidents involved delivery service partners that are contracted by Amazon. By this logic, Amazon itself isn’t to blame, but rather, the companies they use in an effort to save costs.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not buying it. First of all, it’s entirely possible that these companies faced mounting pressure from Amazon to deliver more packages within a shorter timeframe, and thus, were focused more on results than employee satisfaction. Second, by contracting with third-parties, Amazon is trusting them with their coveted brand, and so the onus is on Jeff Bezos and crew to do a better job vetting these companies and implementing (and perhaps enforcing) policies to ensure workers are treated fairly.
As was the case with the aforementioned hospital, by choosing to align with another organization and rely on them to deliver results, you’re putting your own reputation on the line. Customers aren’t going to complain to (and about) third parties; they’re going straight to the top, as well they should.
And when issues aren’t resolved, that’s who their going to remember — even if their memory is as foggy as mine.