Monday, November 13, 2006

'Keep your temper,' said the Caterpillar.

After several days away from the office, I returned to find that the phones weren't working. That is, incoming calls weren't getting through, though we could call people if we wanted. I didn't. I liked that the phones weren't ringing off the hook. I liked that we could catch up on all the work without interruption.

What I didn't like was that the doctors wanted us to listen to the messages. There were seventy of them. Yes. And this was before the afternoon. Seventy people with questions, complaints and garbled messages. Those that weren't incomprehensible were strident.

PHONE CALLER: I want to make an appointment. Where are you people? Don't you know how to answer the phone? Anyway, I'm feeling tired and I think I need a blood test. I expect to be called back! I mean it! It's a workday, so why aren't you answering the phone?

My office mate told me to disregard the cranky voice because it belonged to a woman who was a hypochondriac.

OFFICE MATE: And, she also drinks her urine.
ALICE: What?
OFFICE MATE: Yeah, we have a number of patients who drink their urine.

I had no words.

A very nervous patient, who calls all the time, left a message that he had an appointment tomorrow, but wanted to be called back to talk about another possible date to come in.

NERVOUS PATIENT: BUT DON'T CANCEL MY APPOINTMENT! I'm not asking you to cancel. I just want you to call back and tell me if there are other times. DON'T CANCEL!

A few minutes later, a fax comes through. It's from the nervous patient. It said: DON'T CANCEL MY APPOINTMENT! CALL ME BACK!

So, that's what I do. Nervous Patient says he is so happy to hear from someone because he wasn't sure if we would get the message. Oh, we got the message alright. Calls, faxes...I was surprised the guy didn't owl us with the news.

ALICE: So, how can I help you?
NERVOUS PATIENT: Does the doctor have another day and time when he sees patients?
ALICE: Yes. Next week?
NERVOUS PATIENT: Great! I'll take it!
ALICE: So, you were calling because you wanted to cancel your appointment and reschedule?
NERVOUS PATIENT: No, that's not what I wanted. But since you offered, I might as well take it.

His call was number three. I had sixty-seven more to go.