I must admit that, up until yesterday, my return engagement to the theater of underemployment has been a bit of a disappointment.
True, there have been some hilarious antics by upper management, mainly in the form of new "scripts" that we are being required to regurgitate at our customers/patients. A "script", for those amongst my readers who are blessedly innocent of the wiles of retail, is an annoyingly robotic segment of speech, created by overpaid marketing geniuses, designed to be spewed indiscriminately with the intent of slyly brainwashing the unsuspecting public i.e., "Do you want fries with that?" (The correct answer being, "Why, yes, of course! Brilliant idea! How silly of me not to think of it until your subtle reminder, so skillfully introduced into our mundane exchange.") Scripts are also generated by overpaid marketing geniuses with the intent to demonstrate that, though counter intuitive to the casual observer as it may be, they are worth every penny of their inflated salaries. All of this is bullshit, of course, but for those watching from the corporate peanut gallery of underemployment, it is pure entertainment.
Still, this is slim pickings for over a month of work.
But yesterday, like manna from heaven, three - count 'em, three! - truly awful representatives of Homo sapiens sapiens bestowed the honor of their presence upon my workplace, ending the unsought reprieve and restoring my faith in my fellow man's ability to make me contemplate violence.
If that sounds morbid and perverse, I agree, it is. But it is also my muse. And it would take a great deal of therapy to alter the arrangement.
My first visitor of the day from the Planet Stupid was a regular customer, a gentleman who visits us with distressing frequency, initiating all conversations with, "What's on sale?"
("Nothing, you pathetic dimwit," I say to him, every time, in my mind. "This is a doctor's office. We don't have 'sales'. Though, were it up to me, I would certainly use all my influence to get you a discount on any procedure likely to cause you pain and discomfort.")
Mr. CleverBoots usually stays an hour or so, requesting that an employee price-out various expensive goods and services, after which he applies what he apparently deems his considerable charm in an attempt to get those goods and services at a reduced rate. He has been told a number of times that this is never going to happen, but if Mr. Cleverboots has one lonely virtue, it's persistence.
Mr. CleverBoots could learn something from the lady who came in a little later, dripping in designer finery, and greeting us with all the warmth and winsomeness of Madame Mao. This woman made sure to get her services first, and then demand a discount. A bold tactic, verily, and one for which she exhibited uncommon flair. The office manager spent her entire lunch hour and then some - unusually cruel, I thought, since the office manager is heavily pregnant - patiently (too patiently, mayhap) explaining the reasons for Madame's fees, only to be countered at every point, by a phlegmatic and unqualified, "No." The strategy was admirable in its purity. According to Madame, she has never had to pay for these services in her life, which doesn't surprise me since I am sure she simply applies the same siege tactics everywhere she goes.
Did Madame get her discount? Of course she did. Afterwards, I chided the manager for giving in to people like that, and felt very badly when she looked at me with dumb misery and said, "I'm hungry." She should have left Madame Mao to me. As an underemployed person who shows up to work for research purposes only, I really don't care to whom I offer offense. Though I am, by nature, a nice and friendly person, I have an established policy of not negotiating with terrorists.
Last, but certainly not least in my heart, was an unsmiling lady who came in for her appointment with her mother.
"Thank you, have a seat. The doctor will be with you in a few minutes."
She glared at me. "How long is this going to take?" she snapped.
"I'm not sure. It depends on how long it will take the doctor to perform your procedure."
The glare melted into a smirk of contempt and Mom made a snarky comment. "You can't tell me how long it's going to be?"
"No. Sorry. It depends on the doctor. It shouldn't take long." A roll-of-the-eyes from Mom.
"But you can't tell me how long?"
"Not exactly, no."
"Well, I could come back when you're not so...'busy'," she sneered.
Ah, dearie. You've met your match. I have grey hair and I'm underemployed. The only thing I want to give you right now is a spanking. You made the appointment. You chose the time. You are not quite as special as Mr. Rogers might have led you to believe. Now sit your ass down. "We're not busy. The doctor will be with you in a few minutes. That's how it would be no matter what time you came in."
Dearie sighed heavily, and turned to her Medusa-clone of a mother. "I'll meet up with you later, I guess," she said, throwing me a final, withering glance. But Medusa had already broken off eye contact with me and was now confining herself to sotto voce. I had won.
Oh, the power.
My after-work cocktail tasted wonderful last night.