Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Company Doctor... (and mandatory appointments)

Der Betriebsartzt is what he's called here... he's a company doctor who works every Tuesday and Thursday. If you're sick (just make sure to be sick only on Tuesdays and Thursdays), you can visit him, and he'll try to help the situation.

Last week, I had a rather sore throat, headache and stomach ache, so a dear coworker went with me to the doctor. The assistant gave me cough drops and tablets. Yup, just gave them to me. Now I know why about 40% of my salary is taxed. Cough drops!

If you're feeling sick, then it's nice to have a doctor right in your building that you can visit. But what I don't appreciate is a phone call I received yesterday afternoon. Someone from the HR department called me and said I was overdue for my appointment with the Betriebsartzt.

Ahh... I already have a bad name in the HR because of the work permit drama, losing my company ID card, and trying to get through security with a camera and a ridiculous amount of CDs. Maybe I shouldn't push it with the doctor issue. But I'm an American... I have to be pushy, annoying and questioning. ;)

HR: "Hello, Frau Barber, our records indicate that you haven't seen the Betriebsartzt yet."
Mary: "That's right. I haven't been sick. The cough drops work miracles."
HR: "Each employee needs to have a standard physical check-up... you need to schedule yours as soon as possible."
Mary (starts to panic): "But... but..."
HR: "Frau Barber..."

And then comes the catch phrase... "so ist geregelt...", which, roughly translated, means, "it's a rule/law in some rule book somewhere, so you'd best stop asking questions and immediately do as you're told." This is where most people quickly become silent and obedient. I guess if something is "geregelt", you have to follow it... but I can't help asking why it's even "geregelt" in the first place. This is a very standard phrase, used for processes and obligations that no one seems to agree with, but follows through with anyway.

All that to say, I'm feeling rather pressured to visit the Betriebsartzt because it's "geregelt." But... what if I don't go? What if I don't want a doctor poking and prodding and looking at me when I feel perfectly fine, other than a scratchy throat? Will I lose my job if I don't go? Will they make me clean toilets instead of making financial forecasts? Is that part of the rules? What if they do find something a little funky? Will I lose my job? Why does the company concern itself with my health? What does it matter to them?

I told a coworker that I didn't want to go, and he looked at me as if I were crazy. Everyone goes to the doctor, he told me. I proceeded to ask what would happen if I were to refuse. Impossible, he said. It's "geregelt." You can't refuse.

Darn, I can't break free of my question-protest-start-a-fire-take-it-to-court-whine-and-complain-challenge-the-rules-American way of thinking.

What's a frustrated American girl to do while in Europe? :)

Eh, I'll make the silly appointment. When in Rome...

Lyric of the day: "If you're down, he'll pick you up... Doctor Robert. Take a drink from his special cup... Doctor Robert. He's a man you must believe, helping anyone in need... no one can succeed like Doctor Robert." (Thanks to the Beatles!)

1 comment:

Rori said...

Eep! That sounds kind of scary a little!