At The Sound of the Tone…
I am rarely actually sick but a chronic condition requires that I visit my doctor regularly. I consider these visits little adventures; you can meet some interesting folks in the doctor’s waiting room. A recent adventure began with an attitude influenced by the pain of everyday living. Then, fate sent a merry old gentleman to the doctor’s waiting room to lift my gloom.
“You know you’re getting old when you feel your corns more often than you feel your oats,” he said, as he greeted me with a cheerful smile.
He chatted on throughout our wait, offering bits of country wisdom and chuckling about swatches of irony that amused him. I tried to contribute a word or two to make it a real conversation but his companion said, “He can’t hear you. Just look at him and smile – he’ll talk to you all day.”
He said that raccoons were getting into his feed building and making a mess. He set a live trap and caught one and the other one tore up everything trying to rescue him.
“They run in bunches and mate for life, you know. I shot one, one time and his mate hung around for years. A goose is the same way – just one mate for life. Now a duck, he’s a different story, he’ll breed with anything that moves. You can get too many drakes, you have to thin them out early or they will get to be a big problem.
The nurse called him in and his companion led him away. I mentally patted myself on the back as I thought about what he said about preventing problems.
My contact with the medical community is usually through orderly appointments. An exception occurred a while back when I fell very ill Sunday afternoon. Medical attention seemed important enough to seek the advice of our family physician. After all, his group has an after hours phone number for this purpose (At least that’s what I thought).
My call was answered by a friendly female voice who said she would page the "Doctor on Call" who would call us. After three hours and another call, the obviously annoyed "Doctor on Call" called and presented an uncompassionate, almost rude response.
Now I know it was a weekend and certainly an inconvenience; however, a brief telephone consult would probably have taken only little more time than the curt condescending response.
Knowing of this attitude encourages my religious attention to preventative medicine. My question is: Why even publish an after hours phone number? Maybe to appear more important, to provide an excuse to leave a boring social event, or perhaps they just get a kick out of being rude.
I’ll bet that the old gentleman in the waiting room would chuckle and say, “If they are going to publish a number they should connect it to an answering machine that politely announces: At the sound of the tone, please hang up… Beep… Beep… Click.”