Nothing has been more important than my clients' trust and safety in my over 40-year-old practice.
I was recently challenged to uphold client safety by an unwished-for incident that underscored the need for detailed care.
I was savoring a long, Spring day walk in Philadelphia, beginning at Rittenhouse Square and languidly walking a mile or so to Society Hill, visiting my favorite tiny streets. The trees were fully blooming as I wandered somewhat aimlessly, driven by a flowering tree with huge pink blossoms.
Lost in the walk, I suddenly realized I might have a client call, so I pulled out my trusty 8-inch square appointment calendar, with my schedule inside. That calendar and I are old friends - I chose a red leather cover to make it easy to spot on a paper-filled desk.
After I confirmed that the afternoon was indeed entirely free, I returned home slowly, pausing a bit when a pretty window or front yard caught my attention. In a delightful moment, I even stopped for a small vanilla frozen yogurt cone from a sidewalk vendor.
It was nearly 90 degrees and great to see our front steps after my two-mile walk. I ambled inside to get our mother-daughter team of Portuguese water dogs, who love our walks in the square.
We headed to the park saying hello to neighbors and pedestrians on our way. Oakley and her mama, Bliss were delighted to meander in the park as the people on the benches greeted them. We stopped for a few to pet their soft black curly hair. As I watched their expressive brown eyes watching me, I appreciated their presence.
The day had proven itself, and I returned home. John, my husband, and I have been frantic because we move from Rittenhouse Square to Haddonfield soon.
I decided to check my schedule to see if I could pack some boxes before a weekly phone call late in the afternoon. As I ran my hand inside my cavernous soft black shoulder bag, I felt no knobby familiar red leather. Instead, I felt emptiness.
One of my greatest personal panics is the thought of losing my week-at-a-glance calendar. There was only one choice; I needed to climb in the van and retrace my steps. Red leather is easy to spot, and nobody would want a calendar that doesn't have credit card information.
“John, I am taking the van to peruse every front yard on the way home. My calendar is missing.” I packed a dog in the back seat and maneuvered the large van through Society Hill's tiny streets. No calendar.
I stopped at the ice cream vendor to ask.
“So sorry, but no calendar.”
Does this story have a happy end? The end is happy enough.
I had backed up the data on the computer in case of this emergency, and to my delight, the Philadelphia Police Department
wants to see if they can find it, so I feel cared about in the large and seemingly impersonal neighborhood of Center City Philadelphia.
To ward off the likelihood that this can happen to you, I suggest:
1. Back up of all appointments in an updated online calendar
2. Get support from a friend, family member, or counselor.
3. Decide how to prevent this from happening again.
Today I am purchasing a larger calendar that is harder to drop casually.
This event turned a perfect spring day into a challenging problem, but I will learn from it, and hugs from John and two soft, loving black dogs helped.
In life, competent backup systems save the day and provide peace of mind.
ED. NOTE: Dr. Coche practices clinical psychology in Stone Harbor and Philadelphia. She invites responses through her website, www.cochecenter.com.