Coding Coffee Shop: June 2017 First Impressions


You never get a second chance to make a first impression.


“Large hot chocolate please.” Charlotte rubbed her belly the way a genie rubs his lamp as she ordered.

She had just started maternity leave and was enjoying the excuse to eat for two.

“Cream and marshmallows with that love?”

 She barely heard the lady on the counter because she was fixated on the cakes. “Oh, yes please. Can I get one of these brownies too? Actually, I’ll take two -my friends are running late.”



Stef arrived fifteen minutes late after a busy day at the nursery; two staff off sick with Norovirus and an Ofsted inspection looming, she wasn’t in the Cheshire cat club.

“Chaaaaaaaaarls you look gorgeous!’ she said, ‘Just when I think you can’t get any bigger you manage to grow a little bit more.”

“I don’t think it’s him that’s growing, I think it’s these brownies. He should be fully cooked now and ready to come out!” pointing to her swollen tummy.

Stef took off her coat (yes, coat! It’s supposed to be Summer and thanks to the British weather she was sporting more layers than a red onion), she totted over to the counter. “Black coffee please.”

She too was drawn to the cake counter and drooled over the rich red velvet cake and the Mississippi mud pie.

“Any cake with that love?” the waitress asked Steff.

“I’m supposed to be dieting -  I’m trying to shift this baby weight. But as it’s girl’s night, I’ll take a slice of the red velvet please.”

“Good choice! Was only made by our Margaret this afternoon - It’s still warm.”

“Heeey Charls, sorry I’m so late, got caught up at work’ I gasped as I pushed open the Café door – making the bell tinkle.

“I’ve forgotten what it’s like to work Hun, and I’ve only been on mat leave a week.” Charlotte bragged.

“This morning when I was driving to work, I promised myself I would leave on time- the first time all week, actually, make that the past month. I don’t know who I was trying to kid.  I NEVER finish on time!” I whinged.

There was always one last urgent request for the following morning’s outpatient clinics or histology to chase or work to check for the trainee clinical coders.

I used to love the feeling of leaving work at the end of the day, skipping out of the double doors, hair in a high ‘pony’ swishing from side to side, knowing I had an empty pending tray. Sadly, in recent months this was becoming harder and harder to achieve. I couldn’t even tell you what colour the pending tray is!

I loved my job, but finding the balance between having a life and keeping my head above water at work was a constant struggle. I had missed birthday meals, baby showers and tea at the in-laws more times than I could count. I looked at Charls, stuffing her face with a gooey brownie and glowing and could never picture myself in her shoes. I could barely balance my life now, without bringing a baby into the equation.

Three new trainee coders had started in my Department and I was responsible for overseeing their induction period. I briefed them on policies and procedures, set them up with their e-learning accounts and give them a brief overview of what they had signed up for while they waited to start their Coding Standards course.

There is no doubt about it, helping mentor trainee coders in their first few months was one of the most rewarding aspects of being a qualified Clinical Coder. I remember my first day like it was yesterday. I remember not daring to make a coffee because I didn’t know which mug belonged to the Office dragon and which mugs were spare and I remember everyone speaking in a different language. ‘R29.6, F05.9, I25.2,’ and saying words with more syllables than I had ever heard.

It’s probably a good thing I could remember my first day like it was yesterday because not only do I remember the essentials, like where the fire escape and toilets are, I also tell them about our bonus ball club, that the coffee club is 20p a day and where the water machine is. It’s easy to forget when you have worked somewhere for 15 years how daunting it is starting in a new role and sometimes you just need one person to say, “Hey how’s your day going”. Helps them to settle in. Feel part of the team.

It’s easy to be that caught up in your own workload that you forget to give the newbie five minutes. You never get a second chance to make that first impression – so it should always be a good one.

Feeling like Bruce Bogtrotter from Matilda, I took the last bite of my Mississippi mud pie.  I had worked through my lunch break so it tasted like pure heaven. Trying to change the subject from work, I uttered “Mmmmm, this really is my favourite coffee shop girls, how’s work for you Stef”

“Understaffed, underpaid, undervalued… I’m sure I say the same every time, I’m starting to annoy myself!” Stef was right, she really did say the same every time. At least this time she wasn’t telling the story of how the nursery was dealing with a case of headlice or how one of the kids had vomited all over her.

“Well so far MY week has consisted of lie-ins, a full body pregnancy massage, more cakes than I can even count, just need the little man to put in an appearance now” gloated Charlotte.

“Lucky you Charls, Lucky you! But I’d best get off. My alarm goes off at 4:45am so I’m already working out how many hours sleep I’ll get tonight. I’ll drop you a text in the week” I kissed Charlotte and Stef on the cheek and put my coat on “Bye Hun,’ said Charlie with a wave, ‘I’ll let you know if he arrives before next week”

Charlotte and Stef turned around to continue with their coffee capers. No time for such luxuries for us coders these days. Home.Bath.Sleep


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