secretary

The Fertility Clinic's Medical Team (Or Cast of Characters): Whichever You Prefer -Thursday

(Start with "Monday" if you can. Tell your boss that the company owes you fifteen minutes from last month. By the time she sorts it all out, you'll be caught up.) So what were we talking about? Oh right. Doctors' receptionists, and how hard it is to get good help. Especially for eight dollars an hour. 

Then there was Gloria, the doctors' assistant at the fertility clinic I went to. She wasn't nasty. She wasn't incompetent. She was evil.

I don't mean it as an insult. Just as a statement of fact. Some people are tall. Some people are overweight. Some people are shy. Gloria was evil.

And there was no way to avoid her.

And I tried.

If you called any of the six doctors, she answered. If you emailed them, it sailed directly into her inbox. If she accidentally called you back, she alone would decide whether or not to put the doctor on the phone. And she always decided against it.

She'd deny getting your messages. Her email wasn't working. Her voice mail dropped calls. It was always something.  And damn it if she wasn't convincing.

I think during a lifetime, everyone meets a few people who seem so nice to your face, but your gut just isn't buying it. Everybody likes them. You can't pinpoint why you don't. Yet every time you're in their presence your colon knots into a figure eight.

Gloria seemed nice enough. But being evil is like being a psychopath. All psychopaths are nice. How else are they ever going to lure anybody into their car or convince anyone to take a nice long walk with them through the nice dark woods?

And the temperature in her office was always ten degrees warmer than in the rest of the clinic. She claimed it was because she was always cold. I think it was because below her perfectly manicured nails was a very professional-looking keyboard, below which was a very tidy desk, below which she was engulfed in flames twenty-four hours a day.

I don't think she ever left. Once I got there so early the door was locked. Dr. Shroeder came along after a while with a key. When she opened the door and turned the lights on, there sat Gloria, at her desk, like she'd been there for days.

I think if there was a major earthquake and the whole building that contained the clinic came crashing down, the rescue crew would find Gloria, among the rubble, sitting at her desk, neatly groomed, cool as a cucumber, typing away. 

(Well what could she do? Afterall it was an act of GD... or someone.  Maybe she's just being loyal... but to whom?)

And the doctors and nurses could not sing her praises enough. I'm thinking it was like that episode of The Twilight Zone with that evil brat, Anthony, who kept threatening to send everyone to the cornfield if they had unpleasant thoughts.

"Gloria's nice. Everyone likes Gloria. Isn't Gloria a wonderful, wonderful assistant?"  

She was my biggest incentive to get pregnant. I had to get away from her. I had to leave the clinic because I knew she never would. She was there for millenia.

And nobody would ever sack her for fear that the next morning they'd wake up to find their house in flames and their soul gone. Or maybe they'd wake up in  a cornfield.

Listen I gotta go. It's suddenly gotten very hot in here. I'll talk with ya tomorrow...I hope.

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The Fertility Clinic's Medical Team (Or Cast Of Characters: Whichever You Prefer) Wednesday

(Start with "Monday" if you can. Just give your coworkers the "One minute" finger)  So what were we talking about? Oh right. I was giving you the virtual tour of my fertility center theme park. "Meet Goofy. Meet Grumpy. Meet Doc." 

Doctors are great to have in a medical facility. But, let's be honest. Just like the rest of us, they're at the mercy of the receptionist. I don't care who signs whose checks. We all have to make nice with the receptionist or fertility game over.

She doesn't make the appointment. Game over. She doesn't tell the doctor you're waiting and he goes home. Game over. She doesn't give the nurse your message. Game over. She doesn't charge you for the visit...well that would be okay.  

When I started going to my fertility clinic there were two receptionists. Jessica and Jamie. They complemented each other beautifully. Jessica was lovely but as smart as a tuna fish sandwich.

Jamie was speedy, intelligent, and as nasty as a summer rash in the crack of your… knee. (I do have some sense of decorum you know.)

The pair sparked a lot of childhood memories for me. 

My sister and I had identical twin babysitters (Not simultaneously.  I don’t think moms in the ‘70’s were overly concerned about having a one-to-one child-babysitter ratio).

Identical Twin Wendy let you play "kitchen" with real knives while she fell asleep in front of Johnny Carson.

Identical Twin Cindy, on the other hand, followed you into the bathroom to make sure you didn’t drink iodine.  I was like ten at the time.

I’m not sure whether she’d read somewhere that ten year olds were prone to chugging antiseptics, or that she thought that we thought that she was such a sucky babysitter, we might feign a toilet issue so we could sneak out of the room and kill ourselves.

What we needed was the middle twin: The one born with ALL of the chromosomes.

And that’s what the fertility clinic needed: A receptionist who could multi-task: Be pleasant and competent at the same time. 

Of course the pleasant one got canned first. I've never figured out why, (maybe someone could write me), doctor's offices hang on to intolerable receptionists for decades.

After she went, there was always a new receptionist at the desk. 

They were all named, Giselle, or Jaleesa… It got way too complicated. I just called them all Becky.

Becky One went to lunch and apparently kept on going.  Becky Two gossiped on her cell phone while she took your insurance. Becky three was "in training" for six months.

Aren't office managers aware that training a receptionist is like recovering from a stroke? There's a very short window of time for them to improve. If they're not any better by then, they're never going to get any better.  

I just kept repeating my mantra: "It's okay. She's not allowed to touch prescriptions or needles. It's okay. She's not allowed to touch prescriptions or needles."

Surprisingly, I don't complain much to the higher-ups about crummy receptionists. 1) I don't want to be responsible for someone losing their job. 2) You don't know who she is. 

Once as my chiropractor ushered me into his office and closed the door I said:

"That lady at the desk is so rude." To which, of course he responded:

"That's my wife."

Of course I was then forced to go on and on about a fictitious receptionist about whom I was really talking, (in this one-receptionist office), shutting up only long enough to yell: "Ow! My spine!"

Listen, I gotta go. I need the company microwave. I see someone heading down the hallway carrying a frozen dinner and I want to cut her off at the pass. I'll talk to you tomorrow.