“They’re all alike.”
It was a rude awakening listening to the receptionist at my doctor’s office.
I’ve previously been stereotyped within earshot for various reasons, but not usually when I’m the paying customer. Most employees understand who ultimately pays their mortgage, and it’s not so much their employer.
Another customer – aka patient – and I were sitting in the waiting room this week. The other customer sat down moments before, following the check-in process, during which she was laughing and chatting with the same receptionist in question.
This apparently newish receptionist then answered the phone. She hung up and turned to her coworker to ask a question: “What’s the process in this situation?”
The more experienced receptionist asked a clarifying question around the circumstances. Unexpectedly, the newer receptionist launched into a mocking tone while mimicking the patient’s story.
The two receptionists ping ponged their talk regarding the appropriate process to follow. The more experienced receptionist ignored the mockery and stuck to business. Shockingly, though, she did nothing to stop the newer receptionist’s impersonation or educate her about her attitude.
The other patient and I looked at each other. Eyebrows rose. Were we really hearing what we were hearing? Were we in the right office? Were we on Candid Camera??
“Ok, whoever you are. C’mon out from behind that wall and ‘fess up. We know you’re there!”
Hmmm, nope. Sadly, no Allen Funtness going on.
The other patient decided to speak up, with a teasing tone in her voice. “Hey, we can hear you, ya know. Sounds like you had a tough call?”
“NO!” came the answer from the mocking receptionist. “All calls from patients are like that. I ask a question about their medication and they answer with a huge long story about their pharmacy and what’s going on there. Like I care.”
“Maybe they think they’re helping you understand the situation,” interjected the patient.
“No, they’re just whiners. I can’t believe how patients go on and on, without saying anything important. All day long, every day. It’s so annoying.”
The other patient and I realized she wasn’t interested in hearing another perspective, and her coworker wasn’t interested in training her on the finer points of customer service. She was letting this golden opportunity slip away to File 13.
No wonder this office has a revolving door of receptionists. “Step right up, try your hand at playing ‘Russian Receptionist’!” In the decade I’ve gone to this specialist, I’ve seldom had a positive front-desk encounter. If I didn’t like my doctor so much, I’d shop around.
I was determined to mention this experience to the good doc or nurse behind closed doors. Alas, my mind was on other matters by then and, following the normal sequence of events lately, I forgot.
Maybe I should call back. “Yes, please have the doctor call me. What’s it about? Oh, let’s see, that would be… YOU!”
I can only imagine the front-desk chatter my message would generate. Receptionists: are they really all alike? Thankfully, NO!
This article appeared originally in The Journal of Nursing Jocularity. Published on IDA with permission.