Bedside Manners

Why is it whenever I call a doctor's office, a woman answers the phone and speaks to me as though I've just kicked a puppy down a flight of stairs?

"I'm sorry," I want to say. "Am I bothering you? I can call back at a more convenient time. I'm sure I can just reattach my own finger, no big deal."

I'm generally a healthy person. I eat a vegetable every few weeks. And I rarely use the scroll wheel on my mouse - always click and drag for a good cardio workout.

So I don't ring up the doc too often. But whenever I do, I am astounded by a pandemic lack of professional courtesy.

What does the Help Wanted ad look like for a doctor's office job?

WANTED: Uptight curmudgeon who hates people needed to greet our patients and assist them with medical paperwork. Must have a strong ambivalence toward the sick. Prior experience in constant exasperation preferred. Position starts immediately, or, you know, whenever you get around to it.
Why, medical office ladies, are you so cranky and unhelpful?

Maybe it's because your office looks like an HMO crashed through the window and exploded under the desk, spewing charred scraps of paper and Lipitor pens everywhere.

It's obvious that huge stack of files on the floor means you're far too busy to acknowledge my presence.

Human courtesy? No time. Got to get the lunch order in before noon.

I should probably just go to straight to the hospital from now on, where all the doctors have great hair, razor wit, and wax poetic in the break room about the cruel world like on "Grey's Autonomy."

On hospitals, I recently visited my grandma in one. She's doing fine, thanks for asking.

During our visit, the Eucharistic Minister came by to administer her Roman Catholic jargon and give grandma the wafer: "Body of Christ."

My grandmother, a no-nonsense 87 year-old Wisconsinite, chewed it for a moment, then began to ask a question about the minister's parish.

Not wanting grandma to choke on the wafer, the minister said "Before we chat, why don't you finish chewing and swallow...Him."

Her hesitation was intriguing. She couldn't have said "swallow it." That would be sacrilegious since the transmogrification from bread to body. So she said, very awkwardly, "swallow Him (Jesus)," which is just funny any way you slice it.

I'm sure the comedy was lost on my grandmother, whose primary concern was the location of her Ricola cough drops back at my parents' house.

But I could sense in the minister's awkwardness that perhaps she had glimpsed the absurd and questioned it. But probably not.

So while God was mildly disconcerting at the hospital, I did take great comfort in the human nursing staff, who were super friendly, helpful, and could placate grandma when she grew militant about those cough drops.

God bless those nurses. Next time I lose a finger, I'll skip the doc's office and head right over to see Denise, RN at Mercy Medical.

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Anonymous said...

I don't have to tell you that I take offense to this, right?

Matt Silverman said...

You shouldn't! You have the best Cancer care anywhere! Or so I've heard.

This is really more about private practice frumpiness, not metropolitan hospitals.

I gave hospitals a thumbs up!

Marissa said...

Nice save. Even if you are full of shit.

Matt Silverman said...

It's legit. This is as silly as if I Sick Burned (tm) Geraldo Rivera and Lauren was offended as a journalist.

SK is in a higher class than LI private me, I've been there!

Marissa said...

You can't TM "sick burn[ed]." It's Nick's, forever and ever. Don't make me tell on you.

Nick said...

I'm here for the Sick Burning?

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