The Receptionist

My appointment was for 11:45 AM.

I arrived at 11:25 AM.

I signed in as usual and confirmed with the receptionist that my insurance had not changed since my last visit.

I sat down in the waiting room smack in front of the door to the Inner Sanctum at 11:27 AM.

I called up a recent Keith & Girl Show on my Zen ( since being ill I’m a bit behind on my listening) and watched people filter in a filter out as I listened to Keith and Chemda talk about Celebrity Rehab.

At 12:05 PM, I hit hit the pause button, got up, went to the front desk and asked the receptionist if she would please find out how late my doctor was running.

"What time was your appointment?", she asked as she glanced at the clock.


"Well, it’s only 12:06. As soon as they have a room free, I’m sure they will come and get you".

"But that isn’t what I asked you. I asked you to please find out how late he is running", I replied as patiently and carefully as I could.

" I answered you, M’AAM. As soon as they have a room available someone will call you".

I stood there and just looked at her a minute and said, "You don’t get it", from behind my raised my eyebrow.

I have no idea if she responded in any way because I had turned my back on her and returned to my seat.

I touched the "play" button on my Zen and sat watching her as she worked, like a little bug behind glass, noticing her over-processed blonde hair needed a touch up under the cheap plastic headband she wore and stuck out like straw from a scarecrow’s hat. Her eyebrows weren’t just tweezed pencil thin but shaved; rearranged and arched unnaturally with a pencil on her forehead. She was concentration camp thin and her red lipstick made her look vampiric.

This silent scrutiny must have made her extremely uncomfortable because a few minutes later after a few furtive  sideways glances at me through the glass, she opened the window and said: "I’m sure it won’t be long."

I remained unmoved. Only a slight nod of my head  interrupted my steady gaze in her direction.

This clearly irritated her.

At 12:20 PM, my name was called and I went in to see the doctor.

My doctor doesn’t act like my time is less valuable than his. Neither do his nurses.

I wondered why then, his front desk staff would behave differently. Because honestly, I don’t give a shit whether you actually feel that way or not. All you have to do in a situation like this is pretend that you do. You don’t even have to be happy about it.

But I called the office manager when I got home to discuss my  reception experience and was told that:

"Our receptionists would never get their work done if they called the nurse’s station every time a patient wanted to know how late the doctor was running".

"Uh, isn’t that part of their job description?"

"The physicians in this practice hired me to run the office as I see fit.  They trust me to keep things moving".

"But that isn’t what I asked you…nevermind. Maybe there will be a new office manager  next time I need to see my doctor".

One can only hope, eh?


4 thoughts on “The Receptionist

  1. BTW: I told Hawk about this the other day & he agreed that if it had been his office, he would definitely want to know about that. He agreed that sometimes the only way the medical staff can know what’s happening out front is if a patient tells them. Good luck w/ your letter (and your pneumonia).


  2. Thanks, Eden! That is a very good idea. Under ordinary circumstances (i.e. me sans pneumonia) I probably would have said something to the nurse and hope it got to the right people, at least but by the time I got in there, I was over it. But I’ll also write a letter to my doctor. Good idea! The practice is large… 8 MDs and 4 FNPs and always busy. Probably more so now with the flu…A letter is the way to go. THANKS!


  3. “The physicians in this practice hired me to run the office as I see fit. They trust me to keep things moving.”
    But the office manager is irritating patients and not keeping the office moving. Send a letter to your doctor and either mark it “personal” or ask that he acknowledge receipt of it. Not that you’re asking he agree or fire people or anything but just that he saw it. Include that you tried to speak with the office manager and that you were brushed off.
    When Hawk hears from patients about the front office (not so much in the office but in past ones), he always takes it up with the office manager (without mentioning patient names). Very often it’s b/c of the very reasons the OM stated that doctors don’t know what’s happening in the front office. They depend on the OM not only as a liaison between front office and medical staff but between patient and physician as well.
    Who knows? Maybe the doctor needs something to bring up in order to get the front office straightened out (or to replace a rude and ineffective OM). This might be just the catalyst he needs.
    Also, always bring it up with the nurse and/or doc when you get into the room. Just to say, “I asked how far you were running behind b/c I’m willing to reschedule but the front office staff was rude to me. So if my blood pressure’s up, that’s why.” 😉


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