Can Finally Hear What You’re Saying

| UK | At The Checkout, Money

(I am a volunteer working for a charity which provides hearing support for the deaf community. We hold outreach clinics in various health centres, providing hearing aid batteries and general maintenance as well as advice. All our services are completely free of charge, and clinics are on a walk-in basis which means when we are busy patients have to wait for quite a while to be seen. This doesn’t always go down well. My next patient is an elderly lady who scowls at me and huffs angrily as she comes into the room.)

Me: “Hi, how can I help you today?”

Lady: “My hearing aids are all muffled. I’ve been waiting for over an hour!”

Me: “Sorry about that, it’s busy today.”

Lady: “Well, it shouldn’t take an hour to be seen.”

Me: “Okay… Well, sorry, I’m on my own—”

Lady: “You’re always on your own. They never send more than one person.”

Me: “Er, yes, I’m the only one who covers this area—”

Lady: “They need to get more workers, then. This is ridiculous!”

Me: “Well, they only have the people that actually want to do the work—”

Lady: “They need to offer more pay or something. They obviously need more people!”

Me: *laughing* “Um, they don’t offer any pay, actually. We’re all volunteers.”

Lady: “Yes, well, but… you get expenses.”

Me: “I don’t get a penny, not even travel expenses. I walk here.”

Lady: “Well, if they don’t pay you anything why do you do it?”

Me: “I just like to spend my time helping people who need it. I don’t get paid, so the charity can keep doing these clinics for free. Now, did you want me to look at your hearing aids for you?”

Lady: *looking embarrassed* “Yes, please…”

(This happens fairly regularly, unfortunately.)

Medicareless

| Sydney, NSW, Australia | Crazy Requests

(I have called a patient to confirm an appointment she has with us the following day. Medicare is Australia’s free healthcare system and it entitles some people to receive discount health treatments if on a certain program.)

Me: “Hi, this is [My Name] from [Company]. I just wanted to confirm your nine am appointment with us tomorrow.”

Patient: “Oh, yes, that’s fine. Can you tell me what the cost will be?”

Me: “No problem. I see you’re a Medicare patient. If your [Program] has been renewed for this year, it will only be $6. Otherwise, if you haven’t, it will be $65.”

Patient: “Oh. Well, I don’t know if I have been renewed for that. I won’t come if I haven’t. Could you find out if I have been?”

Me: “I can’t find out directly ma’am, but your doctor will have told you if you have.”

Patient: “I have a letter from him. Would that help? Can you read it for me and tell me?”

Me: “Sure. Did you get the letter sent here or do you have it?”

Patient: “No, it’s in my hand. Can you read it?”

Me: “…Not over the phone. I would need to actually see the letter. You can read it over the phone if you’d like.”

Patient: “No, no, I don’t want to open it. Are you sure you can’t tell me what it says?”

Me: “No, ma’am. I can’t tell you what the letter says without seeing the letter.”

Patient: “…Oh. Are you sure?”

Me: “…Yes, ma’am.”

Patient: “Okay, then. I’ll just bring it tomorrow.” *hangs up*

Making It A Point To Make An Appointment

| Tulsa, OK, USA | Crazy Requests, Time

(My favorite thing is when patients call to make appointments, and they clearly haven’t gotten their lives together before picking up the phone. These scenarios could go one of several different ways:)

Me: “Dr. [Name]’s office.”

Customer: “Yes, I’d like to make an appointment.”

Me: “All right! Is there a day that works well for you?”

Customer: “Oh… I don’t know… Let me get my calendar and call you back.”

(Next caller:)

Me: “Dr. [Name]’s office.”

Customer #2: “Yes, I’d like to make an appointment. Any time is fine. What is your next available?”

Me: “We have a 2:00 tomorrow.”

Customer #2: “Oh I can’t do tomorrow.”

Me: “How about 10:00 the next day?”

Customer #2: “No, I have another appointment somewhere else.”

Me: “…why don’t you tell me when the best time for you is.”

Customer #2: “Oh, I’m really actually very flexible. I can do pretty much whenever. Just not those times you gave me already.”

Me: *decides to try one more time* “Okay… how about 1:30 on Monday?”

Customer #2: “No, I can’t do that.”

(My other favorite thing is when they call saying they will be late for their appointment but that they are “on their way!” and then they walk in with a fresh drink from Starbucks in their hand.)

Only Five Minutes Away From Crazy

| UK | Crazy Requests, Time

(I am working on the phones first thing in the morning at a busy medical centre. About half of our appointments are bookable in advance and half are on the day only. I take the third call of the day.)

Me: “Hello, [Centre]. How can I help?”

Patient: “Hello, dearie, I would like to book an appointment with [Doctor] at about 10 am. Do you have anything?”

(I check the computer system.)

Me: “Yes, we have an appointment at 10, actually.”

Patient: “Oh, that’s a bit early. Have you got anything else around that time?”

Me: “Yes, we have 10:10 or 10:20.”

Patient: “Well, both of those are a bit late; do you have anything at five past?”

(All our appointments last ten minutes, so we never have appointments at five past.)

Me: “Sorry, ma’am, we don’t do appointments at five past.”

Patient: “Bloody NHS! I’ve paid taxes my whole life and you can’t even give me an appointment around 10 am!” *click*

Birth Out-Of-Control

| Indianapolis, IN, USA | Health & Body, Rude & Risque

(I am the patient in this story. I just received the birth control injection that goes in the arm.)

Me: “So, how soon does it take for this to take effect?”

Doctor: “Right now, you’re good to go!”

Me: “Challenge accepted!”

Doctor: “…”

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