I usually avoid Russian businesses if I can help it. That goes first and foremost for doctors who started practicing back "at home". It is not because I think that Russian doctors are inferior (sometimes they are) in their knowledge and skill. Mostly, it is because of their bedside manner and overall customer service. For a myriad of reasons, political, economical, social and cultural, the concept of customer satisfaction in USSR was pretty much nonexistent and customer service largely depended on the character and upbringing of the service provider. Once these people moved to the US, one would think that wanting their business to succeed would give them enough motivation to change their ways. For many business owners it is so, and for just as many it isn't.
Well, we made one exception in the "avoid Russians like a plague" rule when we chose a Russian pediatrician for our kids. We really like her, and she was highly recommended: she is a good doctor, kids like her, our views on antibiotics and vaccinations generally agree, and she is a very, very polite and nice. Obviously, her office is staffed with Russian receptionists because many of her patients' parents tend to be from Russia. I have heard complaints about them from my friends, but never experienced anything truly negative myself. Most of the time, they were nice to me and my kids. Well, until last week.
SubHub had to take DD for a check up, and the doctor had asked to check DD's vision. The assistant put DD in front of a table with letters, and asked her to name them. DD knows alphabet, but gets letters confused. In addition, for unknown to me reasons, yeshivas start teaching kids Hebrew alphabet ahead of English, so even though DD is absorbed in learning the alphabet, it is not English alphabet that she learns. The assistant administering this test remarked to my husband, "Shame on you. The girl is four years old and doesn't know the alphabet!"
What can I say, this assistant was lucky it wasn't me there with my daughter. While generally I try avoiding conflict, some things deserve an immediate response. The comment was definitely completely inappropriate and rude. Multiply that by the fact that a certain percentage of kids have developmental delays, and this receptionist could have offended a parent of a child incapable of recognizing letters for reasons other than parental laziness and neglect. (I am not even going to go into the whole topic of when children should start learning alphabet etc. or whether a 4-year old is developmentally disabled if she cannot memorize letters. )
I was and still am pretty irate about the whole thing and even thought of calling the doctor herself and complaining. But this receptionist has worked there for years, her manners, comments and all. I doubt anything would come out of my complaint. My only decision here is whether this incident requires changing doctors or not. I am thinking not yet, but it's strike one...