Sunday, October 30, 2011

Attack of the Whack-Jobs

Just as there are no atheists in fox holes, there are no non-believers in astrology amongst people who work with the public.

Full moons and new moons are the worst, especially eclipses, and those of us who earn our bread by placing ourselves in the vulnerable position of having to deal with any nutbar who chooses to walk through our doors, can tell you when these celestial events are occurring without having to consult the stars.

I am lucky, in that my office is not at street-level and visitors have to get by a doorman, take an elevator, and follow the not-particularly-prominent arrows to find us.  This means that the demographic of our customers is somewhat less random than in places on the main drags with big windows full of shiny merchandise and "come hither" signage.  But the percentage of whack-jobs to normal people is pretty much the same (if you take into account the phone calls), a bit of information which could be useful to some psychological study of the occurrence of insanity in the general populace.

Last week's new moon did not disappoint, and I was blessed with three straight-up lunatics in the eight short hours of my workday.  Two were by phone, one made a personal appearance.

(Ring, ring)

"Thank you for calling Eye Care About U.  This is an Underemployed-Person-Who-They-Don't-Pay-Nearly-Enough-To-Do-This.  How may I help you?"

"I'd like to make an appointment."

(Easy enough.  Have we seen you here before, or are you new?)

"I'm new."

(When would you like to come in?)

"Wednesday.  Do you have any openings on Wednesday?"

(Why, yes, we do.  We have openings at 1:00 and 3:00.)

"I'll take the 3:00.  Which doctor will I be seeing?"

(You'll be seeing Dr. Smith.)

"How long has Dr. Smith been with the practice?  I'm on your website.  I don't see Dr. Smith on your website."

(You're on our website?  I'm sorry.  It hasn't been updated for a while.  Our doctors are medical geeks, not computer geeks.  Which, by the way, is not a bad thing.  Dr. Smith is new.)

"Dr. Smith is new?  Is Dr. Smith male or female?"

(If it makes a difference, Dr. Smith is female.)

"Female?  How old is she?"

(I've never asked her.)

"I don't want somebody new.  Do you have other doctors?"

(We do.  We have Dr. Jones on Monday and Dr. Adams on Friday.)

"Who has been there longer?"

(Dr. Jones has been here for twelve years and Dr. Adams for six years.)

"I don't see a picture of Dr. Adams on your website."

(I told you it hadn't been updated for a while.)

"This is very frustrating.  How do you expect me to make an appointment with a doctor I've never seen?"

(My expectations are extremely low.  But, generally, that's how things are done.)

"Well, I guess I'll make an appointment with Dr. Jones.  Is he there on Wednesdays?"

(Dr. Jones is here on Mondays.)

"Not Fridays?"

(No, ma'am.  Mondays.)

"And who's there on Fridays?"

(Dr. Adams.)

"There's no picture of Dr. Adams.  This is becoming very difficult for me."

(As for me.)

"I'm really angry about this.  You need to update your website."

(I'll get right on it.)

"All right.  I'd like an appointment with Dr. Jones.  Thank you for being so patient."

(I'm not being patient.  I hate you.)

"For Friday."


(Ring, ring.)

"Thank you for calling Eye Care About U.  This is an Under-Employed-Person-Who's-Hoping-You-Only-Want-To-Know-What-Time-We-Close.  How may I help you?"

"I'd like you to fax my prescription to me."

(Okay.  Please give me your fax number and I'll send you a release-of-information form.)

"A form?"

(Yes, ma'am.  We're not allowed to release your medical records without your written consent.)

"I'm not filling out a form."

(Okay, I'll fill it out for you.  Just sign it and fax it back.)

"I'm not signing it."

(Okay, indulge me on this one.  Why not?)

"Because it's ridiculous."

(It's also the law.)

"Anybody could sign it.  So it's ridiculous."

(I can't release your medical records without your signature.)

"But ANYBODY could sign it!

(Including you.)


(Hold, please!)

AUTHOR'S NOTE:  One of the advantages of being underemployed is being underpaid.  And one of the beautiful things about being underpaid is that you feel no remorse about handing off a difficult situation to a higher-up.  Which I did.  Immediately.  Memo to underemployed people everywhere:  If you don't go home at night and sleep like a baby, you're just not doing it right.


"I have an appointment."

(Welcome.  Here is your paperwork.  May I make a copy of your insurance card?)



"It's a privacy thing."

A privacy thing?  I have a file an inch thick on you.  It includes your birthdate, your address, your phone number, your employer, your employer's phone number, your social security number, and a medical history two pages long that lists your plethora of medications, and you won't let me make a copy of your insurance card because of a "privacy thing"?

That was my first clue.  It was my first clue because when you came in, I thought you looked normal.  In retrospect, you looked normal in the same way Kathy Bates looked normal in "Misery".

So no argument from me, sister.  My continued existence on this planet happily does not depend on your letting me make a copy of your insurance card. 

You took the clipboard with the paperwork and stood there for a moment, looking at me in a way that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

When you had finished the paperwork, the exam tech came to take you for the preliminaries.  "Ms. Nelson," he said politely.  "You can come with me, I'll be pre-testing you."

You didn't move.  You sat there giving him the same look you had given me.  "What's your name?"

"Daniel," he said, a bit taken aback.  You sighed deeply, as if "Daniel" was a huge disappointment, but slowly gathered your things and followed him to the pre-testing room with obvious reluctance.

After delivering you to Dr. Smith, Daniel came out, visibly shaken.  "She just stared at me, every time I asked her a question." 

A few moments later, you came flying out of Dr. Smith's office, and proceeded to loudly berate us because this wasn't the "right" doctor.  You ONLY see Dr. Adams.  (Not true.)  How could we not know this?  (Because you've seen five different doctors in the past.)  How could we not tell you?  (Never crossed our minds.)  Did we expect that "JUST ANYBODY" with a medical degree was qualified to examine you?  (That went over big with Dr. Smith.)

Dr. Smith eventually managed to convince you of her qualifications and good will, and coax you back into the exam room, from where we could hear you yelling at her for the next five minutes.  Then there was an ominous silence, during which we were justifiably concerned about her safety.  A while later you came out smiling, which only served to enhance the overall creepiness of the scene. 

We must have looked apprehensive, if not flat-out terrified, because you waved your hand, laughed at us, and said, "Oh, I'm over it!". 

Since I will (hopefully) never know exactly what it was you were over, I'll just venture to guess that your meds had kicked in.

I tore up your reminder card for next year's appointment.  Rank has its privileges.


It was quite a trifecta.  Maybe it was the new moon, maybe as the days get shorter here in the northern hemisphere the denizens get progressively crazier.

Whichever, we have a full moon to look forward to on November 10th.

Save the date!


the nyanzi report said...

ha! it seems there's no shortage of lunatics calling at your work place. it just gets better every time...keep 'em coming.

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Mary Lynn said...

Save the date....I can't wait!

Trapped in Chicago said...

HA! SOOO true: if you're underemployed, you DO sleep like a baby at night. Not to mention that we give all the reaaaaally difficult situations to those with more power....and better pay.....

sacramento said...

You are such a good read.
Much love, dear friend.