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If you don’t like hearing me rant about the rude people in the world then don’t click the link below.

So.  I don’t know what it was about this particular call.  Sure, I’ve been spending the last three days beating my head against an apparently unsolvable problem, only to discover the source of the problem was a combination of a sysadmin failing to set access permissions correctly and Mac OS X inexplicably deciding that it should change the names of files when it compresses the folder they’re in (which was DESTROYING my nice object-oriented packages as they uploaded!)…

But nonetheless, I came really close to going postal on some lady just now.  She has been having insomnia for months, apparently.  She saw a doctor for it over 2 months ago; it took her three weeks to get around to getting the tests he ordered done and she hasn’t gotten around to seeing the specialist about the problems those tests revealed.  In the interim, a week ago he called in some sleep medicine for her.

She didn’t bother to go to pick up the prescription until three days ago. They told her there was some administrative problem with it that would need to be addressed by her doctor’s office.  She sat on this for three days and then tonight, after the office was closed, decided it was time to get it taken care of.

She ignored all of the non-real-time options for making her request – like the online request form, the voice mail, or a fax. Instead she had the on-call doc (me) paged. She explained to me that I need to call her pharmacist and arrange for her to have her medicine.

I politely told her that I was sure the doctor who prescribed the medicine would be happy to address that tomorrow during business hours, so could she please give them a call in the morning to explain the issue?

She then had the gall to inform me that if she had a car accident on the way to work in the morning due to her poor sleep, it would be my fault.

At this point, my hold on “polite” slipped considerably. I pointed out that it was our clinic’s policy that we don’t need to take care of administrative stuff for patients after hours. I noted that she’d been having difficulty sleeping for months, and that one more night was unlikely to make much difference one way or the other.

At which point she said “what’s the point in being a doctor if you’re not available to your patients 24 hours a day?”

I recognized at that point that my response would move out of the range of “not polite” and into the range of “unequivocally hostile”. So I simply said “I don’t know if you are interested in continuing this theoretical discussion but I should point out that nothing about this conversation is going to make me do anything about your administrative problem tonight.”

She hung up on me. That was probably the best response all around, I suppose.

But now I’m left with all the seething resentment of the things that I’d LIKED to have said to her.  Like, who made her queen?  Why is she so special that I should interrupt dinner to take care of this problem, when she could have addressed it during working hours anytime in the last two days?  Is she possibly so self-centered that it didn’t occur to her that doctors are people too – people who like to spend time with their loved ones, have a quiet meal and a good night’s sleep, without disrupting all of those to do her a service that isn’t an emergency in any sense of the word? Or is she well aware that she’s out of line, but finds that making unreasonable demands and being bitchy until she gets what she wants is simply more convenient than being courteous of other peoples’ professional and personal time? Does she understand that she’s communicating the message that she has absolutely no regard for me as a human being, but nonetheless she expects me to be eager to go out of my way to help her? Why on earth would I be motivated to do that?  Does she realize that the world is full of people who are sicker, sadder, more helpless, and overall more deserving of my sympathy than she is, and if I spend my entire life working to help people every waking hour, I could fill every minute of that time helping people who are more pleasant and more deserving than she is? Does she realize that I’m so pissed off by her cavalier attitude that I’m tempted to fire her as a patient just so I’ll never have to deal with it again?

*pant, pant*

Ok, maybe I feel a bit better now.  Or, maybe I’ll wake up still pissed in the morning, and go ahead and have my office start proceedings to fire her ass. She can shop around and either find a doctor who’s far nicer than me, or she might just learn that her own standards are unreasonable and have to change her approach.  Either way, I don’t have to deal with her.

You know, I have avoided parenthood because I doubt I would be patient enough to deal with the “unreasonable” demands that kids frequently make.  But, I’ve survived a decade in this profession without resorting to screaming or slapping anyone… maybe I could survive parenting as well?


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