Three Million French Doctors

, , | Right | January 16, 2019

(As a public librarian, I often receive phone calls from patrons who don’t own a computer and want me to look up a phone number or a business address. I don’t mind taking these calls, but there are a few patrons who abuse the system. This one takes place less than ten minutes before we close.)

Patron: “I wanted you to see if you could find a doctor named [Doctor].”

Me: “Okay, could you spell his last name for me?”

Patron: “Oh, I don’t know how it’s spelled. Just try it; that should work.”

(I immediately see the difficulty in this, as the name she has given me is French-based and I, unfortunately, am from out of state and therefore unable to guess how that might possibly be spelled. I give it a try, anyway.)

Patron: “Isn’t there a list of doctors in [State] you could look at?”

Me: “Ma’am, even if there was such a thing, there are thousands of doctors in this state, and the list would be quite unwieldy.”

Patron: “Well, couldn’t you search by letter?”

Me: “Ma’am, there is no list like that. Every practice lists the doctors in its employ and nothing more. Do you have the name of his practice?”

Patron: “Just try searching by his name and the state. That should be enough.”

(I am losing patience at this point. Not only has it been a long day that left me with a headache, but the library closes in five minutes and I want to go home. I am beginning to suspect that not only does she not own a computer, but that she has never used one before.)

Me: “Okay, ma’am, when I type in the name you gave me — without an exact spelling — I get over three million results to sift through. Are you sure you don’t know how his name is spelled?”

Patron: “No! He’s the son of a woman I lost touch with after a hurricane twelve years ago. I don’t know where she went, but I know he has to be here. Did you put in the name of our state?”

Me: “Okay. When I put in the state name, I get over one million results.”

(The patron laughs loudly and derisively in my ear. When she speaks, her tone is both amused and patronizing, as though a small child just told her the moon is actually Jupiter.)

Patron: “Well, that sounds like BS, but okay. Thank you for all your help. I’ll just try a different way that might get me results.”

Me: “Goodnight.”

(I was more than happy to end that phone call.)

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