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    Adopting An Apologetic Attitude

    | Boise, ID, USA | Family & Kids, Health & Body

    Me: “Thank you for calling [clinic], this is [my name]. How can I help you this evening?”

    Caller: “Hi, I just needed to speak with a nurse about my son; he’s been coughing really badly this week.”

    Me: “Sure thing!”

    (I get her son’s details, and pull up her son’s account in the computer.)

    Me: “Alright, I will have the nurse give you a call back in the next 20 minutes. Is this the best number to reach you back at?”

    (I read her the primary number on the account.)

    Caller: “That is his biological parents’ phone number, but I’ve adopted him and have primary custody. Can you call me back at [this number] tonight?”

    Me: “Of course! Alright the nurse will call you shortly.”

    Caller: “Actually, can you remove that number and put mine as the primary contact number, please?”

    Me: “Unfortunately, I cannot do that for you this evening. I do not have access to any of the legal paperwork you would have on file, and I would be uncomfortable changing the information on the account at this time. But I will have the nurse call your number tonight. You can call back in the morning during regular office hours and speak with my supervisor to get that done.”

    (The caller immediately flies into a rage.)

    Caller: “I can’t believe this! I should be the primary contact for the child that I have full custody of! This is absurd! Why can’t you just replace the d*** number?”

    Me: “I’m very sorry. It has to do with the privacy laws surrounding your protected personal and health information, as well as the legalities of custody agreements. I wish there was more I could do, but I am just a receptionist. I have very limited access to your records, and have no way to verify who you are. But for tonight I can definitely have the nurse call you at your own number about your son.”

    Caller: “Whatever. Fine.”

    (The caller hangs up, but calls back again about five minutes later.)

    Caller: “Hey this is [name] again. I’m really sorry about being so short with you earlier. I realized that you were just protecting yourself, as well as my son and his information. You guys do a great job, and we really like coming to your clinic. So, I apologize. I’m just very stressed out with my son being so sick.”

    Me: “Wow, thank you for your apology! But I totally understand where you are coming from.”

    Caller: “It’s just been a rough few days. But thank you for your help, and being so kind while I yelled at you. Keep up the good work!”

    Pointedly Pointing Out Appointments

    | CO, USA | Extra Stupid, Time

    (I am a receptionist taking calls for a very busy doctor.)

    Caller: “Hi, I need to schedule an appointment with the doctor.”

    Me: “Okay. Can I have your name, please?”

    Caller: *gives name*

    Me: “Well, it looks like you already have an appointment on the schedule for tomorrow. Do you need me to move it?”

    Caller: “No, I don’t have an appointment.”

    Me: “Are you sure? The computer says you’re marked down for 10:30 tomorrow morning.”

    Caller: “I’m positive. I always write my doctor’s appointments down in my little book. And I don’t have an appointment written down in my book or anywhere else. That means it doesn’t exist. Your computer must be malfunctioning. Just give me an appointment.”

    Me: “Wait… so my computer accidentally scheduled you an appointment?”

    Caller: “Yes. Now, please make me a real appointment.”

    Me: “Well, we have to schedule this type of appointment two months out.”

    Caller: “No, no. I need to get in this week.”

    Me: “Well, in that case, I just had a spot open up tomorrow at 10:30. Will that do?”

    Caller: “Yes! Perfect! Thank you!”

    Kin Tell A Lot About This Patient

    | Saskatchewan, Canada | Bigotry, Language & Words

    (I work at a walk-in clinic. A new patient has come in and I am gathering his information for his file at the front desk. He has blond hair, blue eyes, and is 30. He has been otherwise polite to this point. Note that another patient is standing in line behind him.)

    Me: “So, that’s almost it. Last question: who’s your next of kin?”

    Patient: “Am I Mexican?! What kind of racist question is that? I ain’t no Mexican freak, you racist B****!”

    Me: “Sir, I didn’t ask if you were Mexican. I asked for your next of kin.”

    Patient: “What the f*** is a ‘next of kin?’ You are just trying to make things up to cover up your racism!”

    Other Patient: “‘Next of kin’ is your emergency contact, moron.”

    Patient: “Oh, in that case, my mom. Her contact info is the same. I still live at home.”

    Other Patient: “That explains so, so much…”

    Intrinsically Disadvantaged

    | Richmond, Virginia, USA |

    (I work in a doctor’s office calling previous patients asking them to rate the quality of their visit. If they rate it “good” or below, I have to ask why and take down the reason. I have just gotten through most of the questions, when I ask the final one.)

    Me: “…and would you rate our billing service as excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor?”

    Patient: “Oh, good, I guess.”

    Me: “Okay, and may I ask why you didn’t rate it excellent or very good?”

    Patient: “It’s a BILL!”

    Me: *laughing* “All right, I will make sure to make a note of that. Thank you very much and have a wonderful day!”

    Noon, Not Too Soon, Part 2

    | Great Neck, NY, USA | Extra Stupid

    (I call patients the day before their appointment to remind them.)

    Me: “Hello, [patient], I am calling to remind you of your appointment with [doctor] tomorrow at noon.”

    Patient: “Okay, what time is my appointment?”

    Me: “Noon.”

    Patient: “But what time is my appointment?”

    Me: “Noon.”

    Patient: “What time is noon?”

    Me: “Um, it’s at twelve o’clock…in the afternoon.”

    Patient: “Oh, great. Thanks! I’ll be in.”

    Noon, Not Too Soon

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