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Teething pains

December 22nd, 2005

Dr Petra

For the last month or so I’ve had an ongoing battle with dental problems. What started as a straightforward tooth extraction has led to numerous trips to the dentist and looking either like I’d come off the worse in a street brawl, or that I’d fallen into a vat of botox.

Unfortunately this meant some of the work activities I’d got planned had to be cancelled or postponed. After all it’s difficult communicating sex advice if you’re drooling all over the place – it gives a bit of a pervy impression that only suits a certain kind of sex education.

Most people I worked with were very sympathetic (either that or my appearance just scared them off). However one TV Company didn’t seem quite so empathic.

They’d got in touch around the time the tooth debacle began, asking for me to be part of a documentary. I said I could help although only a small part of my research tapped into their programme and I may not be available due to ongoing dental difficulties. Fine, they said, plenty of other people involved and they’d fit me in as and when I was available.

We pencilled in a date but unfortunately that week I had more problems and was back at the hospital, full of antibiotics and feeling very sorry for myself. I emailed the TV Company to let them know.

A few days later and I left my latest dental appointment bloodied and bruised and numb from the anaesthetic to find a phone message from them asking if I could do the interview the following day or the next week. I emailed back later that morning to explain I couldn’t do the interview because I wasn’t well and couldn’t talk due to tooth surgery.

Five minutes later the phone rang.

Hi it’s (producer on the show). Can you talk?
Me: mwmphawtoothoutstichesincan’ttalkwmpsghf
Oh well I just wanted to set up the interview for next week and obviously to
find out more about you and your knowledge in this area
Me:mweasprhno….I…..really….can’t….talk…(dribble, drool).
Yes I know that but I really do have to fix a date with you for that interview.

About ten minutes after that I got another email reminding me of the importance of the show and my involvement and also a list of dates. At which point I replied and said count me out of the documentary, I’m not well and it’s unlikely I’m going to be any better before their deadline.

I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time and thought that I’d been clear. But perhaps my mumbling through clenched (and very sore) teeth hadn’t been transparent enough because two days later an email cheerily entitled ‘interview time!’ popped into my inbox. Sure enough it was telling me that the documentary had extended its interviews into the New Year.

The next day I got three messages left on my answering machine at work and on my mobile. On the fourth call they reached me, and I explained the new term would be very busy and again to count me out.

A week later and another email setting out dates in January and asking for me to agree to a time. This persistence seemed odd since at the start they’d told me they’d loads of people lined up and they’d be fine if I couldn’t take part (particularly since I wasn’t well). From the outset I’d established my limitations for the programme and also my availability. I’d passed on other people’s details that I thought could help and even outlined a search strategy to identify other experts for the programme.

However, I emailed once more to apologise for the bad timing of tooth problems and busy new terms and explained very firmly I really couldn’t help.

Another email. Not saying ‘oh we’re sorry you were ill’ or ‘shame you’ll be busy’ but ‘can’t you help because you’re the only person who’s studied (the topic of the documentary) in depth’.

I replied very firmly that no I really wasn’t available and that this wasn’t something I’d studied in depth.

They immediately responded that this was a shame since I’d given them the impression I really knew a lot about the issue but could I recommend someone else. I’d already done this and told them so. They then replied asking me to send all of the ‘research I’d done’ on this area.

A few days went by and then I got another call from the producer implying I was the only person who could do the programme on account of my research in this area – I explained again I’d not done research in this area. The topic they were covering had been mentioned in brief by participants. They implied I’d misled them by claiming I’d extensively researched the area, and that I’d be going back on my word if I didn’t take part.

I said no, I’ve never mislead you. I am simply unable to help on this occasion.

They offered money for my participation.

I said again no, I wasn’t going to be available when they planned to film.

They replied even if I was busy they could come to my house one night and film me.

And by the way, was there anything that had put me off taking part in the documentary….?

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