Dropping The Call And Dropping The Ball

, , , , | Working | June 23, 2020

I’m running a couple of minutes late for my 7:00 am dentist appointment. I hate getting up early and am no good at it, but my commute is about an hour so it’s the only way to have no significant hours off from work.

As I head for the dentist’s front door, my phone starts ringing. I dig it out of my pocket and see that the display says, “Dentist,” but after two rings total, before I can answer, it stops.

It’s a bit odd, but I walk in and see nobody at the reception to announce my arrival, so I just take a seat.

After five or ten minutes, I see my regular dentist walk in. I figure they must have called me that he was late, considering that I had the earliest appointment possible.

After about twenty more minutes of waiting, a receptionist or assistant finally walks into the lobby and has some discussion with another patient. After they finish, I decide to ask her when the dentist will see me.

Assistant: “Oh, you were late and the dentist has just started treating the next patient.”

Me: “I see. Can I go in after this patient since I only need a checkup?”

Assistant: “No, we’re swamped for the morning and the current patient is in for a big treatment, it will take at least ninety minutes.”

Me: “Well, that’s inconvenient. But I was only two minutes late and there was nobody here to check me in.”

Assistant: “Oh, yes, we did call you.”

Me: “Yeah, my phone rang twice. Then it stopped and I walked in here.”

Assistant: “Ah, yes, there’s an issue with the phones here; sometimes they just randomly drop the call.”

Me: “Right, so I didn’t have any chance to answer your call, which you knew dropped because of a technical issue on your side. I couldn’t check in when I walked in right after, and in the nearly half-hour I was sitting here, nobody checked the lobby or tried another call.”

Assistant: “Correct. Would you like to reschedule for 4:00 pm today or some other day?”

And that’s how I learned to be fifteen minutes early for dentist appointments.

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The Right Dentist Can Make You Smile In So Many Ways

, , , , , , | Healthy | May 19, 2020

Like a lot of people, I hate going to the dentist. My first memory of going to the dentist was traumatic and growing up I inherited my parent’s bad teeth, which made dental visits painful and embarrassing. Unfortunately, my attempts at better dental hygiene ended up ruining my teeth; it got to the point where every single tooth was rotting and needed to be pulled.

The first dentist I went to for a checkup and to discuss my options insisted on pulling my teeth that day. He went on and on about how the infection was going to spread to my brain and kill me. The staff insisted my insurance would cover it, but only the novocaine. He didn’t pull all my teeth — ten or less — and it lasted two hours. Later, I received a bill for all the little fees that the staff conveniently didn’t go over. I decided infection and potential death wasn’t too bad if it meant avoiding bills.

A couple of years later, after I had to switch insurance, and at the insistence of my therapists and case manager, I went to the dentist again — a different place this time.

The first visit was a check-up and only that. We talked about my options, and there was no pressure on what I should do or that I needed to get it done right then and there. The assistant even expressed sympathy when she saw how bad my teeth were instead of being judgmental. I set up several appointments to get my teeth pulled and get dentures.

Despite having to do everything in stages, the process was quick. My insurance would cover the surgery, but only the basics. The dentist, who had a heart of gold, gave me laughing gas anyway, no charge.

They made dentures on-site, so I was able to get dentures fitted as soon as I was healed. For the first time since I was a child, I smiled without covering my face and the staff was thrilled. I can’t thank them enough for all the kindness they showed me.


This story was included in our May 2020 Inspirational Roundup.

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When Mom And Dad Are Scarier Than The Dentist

, , , , | Healthy | April 17, 2020

I used to work in a children’s dental clinic. One of my jobs was to contact the parents to remind them of their child’s appointment. One afternoon, I dialed a number and it went to voicemail. This is what I heard:

“Death waits for all of us. It casts a shadow before the young and dances on the back of the old. It comes whenever it will: in your sleep, while you eat, while you drive…”

There was a pause.

“Hmm, maybe even in a voicemail message. If you are brave, leave one.”

Then came the beep.

I’ve never left my message so quickly. And it was for two kids!

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Thanks For The Wisdom, Dad

, , , , | Related | April 6, 2020

Due to cavities setting in on my wisdom teeth, I’ve made the decision that it’s better to have them removed now. I’m somewhat nervous, as I both dislike dental work and have never had any surgery before. I’ve called my parents to let them know what’s happening.

Dad: “So, what are you doing for the anesthetic?”

The options I have to choose from are being put completely under, nitrous gas, and a local anesthetic. The latter two can be combined.

Me: “Not really sure yet. I’m living alone so I don’t want them putting me under, just to be on the safe side.”

Dad: “How are you with the gas? Does it numb you properly?”

Me: “It’s been a while since I had my cavities filled, and all I had back then was the local.”

Dad: “Just be careful. When I had my wisdom teeth removed, the gas didn’t actually do anything except make me not care. I could feel all the pain while they were operating, but I was so out of it I just thought, ‘Wow, that hurts a lot.’”

Needless to say, I took both the local and the gas. Thanks for helping with my nerves, Dad.

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It’s Him, Nice But Dim

, , , | Right | April 2, 2020

(I work as a receptionist for a dental office. Even though we’re a relatively small practice, we still have about a thousand active patients at any given time. One day, I get this call from an elderly gentleman:)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Practice]. How can I help you?”

Caller: *enthusiastically* “Hi! It’s me!”

(I see that caller ID simply reads, “Private Caller.”)

Me: “Well, hello! I’d love to help you today; can I start with your name?”

Caller: “Yeah, yeah, it’s me! You know me!”

(We do know quite a few of our patients by name on sight, and in most cases, a first or last name is enough to correctly identify any mystery patient.)

Me: *laughs* “Yes, I’m sure I do! Okay, I just need to find your file in the computer, though. Can I get your last name?”

Caller: “I was just there; you know me!”

Me: *cheerfully* “We get a lot of patients, since [Doctor] is very popular. When were you last in?”

Caller: *still very enthusiastic* “I was there a month or two ago! You know me!”

Me: *giving up* “Oooh! Yes, of course, I know you! What can I do for you?”

(I managed to glean some details during the rest of our conversation, and after searching our appointment book through the previous three months, I was able to successfully match a name to the unidentified caller. He was right! I DID know him because he had been in quite frequently for a brief time, and because he was always so cheerful at the visits. He’s still a patient and every time he calls our office, he only says, “Hi, it’s me!”, though all our receptionists know who “me” is now.)

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