The overwhelming majority of patients at our office are lovely people. These are people who are pleasant, cooperative, easy going, or even thoughtful. I enjoy greeting them and engaging in some friendly chat to make them feel welcome. Heck, I even enjoy doing the same for the ones who are either nondescript or who come in feeling blue or worn down by obvious pain. Then there are the underwhelming minority, the demanding, the surly, the oblivious, the energy suckers...Lord have mercy.
There is one family in particular who are basically oblivious, energy suckers prone to high drama. At least they aren't surly, right? Anyway, they are certain that every incident in their lives is of utmost importance and interest to everyone around them and they just wouldn't want to deprive anyone the joy of hearing all about it. Of course, they also feel it's their duty to deprive others of the opportunity to add anything to a conversation. They are also chronically late to appointments but always come with an excuse. Allow me to recount the most recent excuse.
Setting: The front desk
(Mother, Father and Teen Daughter enter and immediately surround the desk as they lean in close.)
Family: (in rapid fire talking over each other) We know we're late! It's a miracle! It's Amazing! We had a true miracle at the house today, that's why we're late! YOU JUST CAN'T BELIEVE IT!
Me: (Plastering a smile on my face while calculating how much interest I have to feign to be polite without encouraging the unabridged version) Oh, is that so?
Mother: (fanning herself lest she faint in amazement at the magnitude of the miracle) Oh yes! The septic system!
Teen Daughter: Oh Mommy, can you believe it?
Father: You just won't believe it. We had all sorts of problems today...
Mother: We didn't have the septic tank pumped out for 5 years and we just had to.
(I chide myself internally for spending time mentally calculating the volume of human waste this large family could produce in five years.)
Father: It was cheap last time. This time I think they charged us double.
Mother: It's a real racket.
Father: (making dramatic motions indicating great space) Of course the lid of the system had lifted up because it was so full
Mother: But still they are just cheating us charging so much.
Father: And then they said there was something broken and it was going to cost even more.
(They blathered on at length regarding the inner workings of their septic system and plumbing during which I considered stabbing myself in the neck but nodded and uh-huhhed periodically as I found ANYTHING else I could do at the desk to convey the general notion that I had work to do and perhaps they should be moving along. You can thank me later for editing the graphic details.)
Mother: (wiping the sweat from her brow as the story climax nears) So then they thought maybe it was only that...that....oh...the floaters.
Me: (arching my eyebrows, nodding, and thinking about mangled kittens so I don't guffaw at the notion of fixing the "septic floaters.")
Father: (waving his hand dismissively at his wife) The FLOAT, dear...the FLOAT! So we tried that and it worked. All we needed was a new float.
Teen Daughter: (nodding enthusiastically) It's a miracle!
Mother: (clutching the desk to keep from swooning) Oh thank God!
Me: (forcing myself not to make a crack about them finally getting their shit together) Well, that's quite a relief I'm sure.
(Finally, they move on from my desk to the waiting area so they can regale other patients with this astonishing story. I enter the billing department and slump.)
Biller: (snickering at how I had to endure that and she could bury herself in billing as a more interesting alternative) I'm impressed with your patience.
Me: (standing straight, assuming a serene air, folding my hands in prayerful repose) It's a true septic miracle. (then whispering wickedly) It's just a wee tad ironic that their miracle would involved huge quantities of their own excrement.