Archive for the 'Rants' Category

Paging Doctor Inconsiderate?

I am sometimes amazed at how difficult some people find it to provide good customer service. I’m not usually a very demanding customer – since I’m in the customer service biz myself, I try to be understanding. When I get angry is on those occasions when I find that my time is being wasted unnecessarily. This is a problem I bump into frequently when dealing with the medical profession, and recently I ran into an issue that made me want to breathe fire.

Last week, I had an appointment to see my dermatologist. My dermatologist is an older guy with sort of a gruff exterior, but I like him because he doesn’t go out of his way to sugar coat anything (when I don’t follow his recommendations, he calls me on it). Also, he’s the type of guy who will call you at 9pm with a test result rather than wait until the next day (which can help in the sleep department). He takes plenty of time with his patients, though, and as such he can get behind with his appointments. A couple of years ago, after I found myself sitting in his waiting room for more than an hour, his receptionist told me that in the future I should call to see how his appointments are running before coming in. That, she assured me, would save both time and frustration.

I remembered that advice this past week and called my dermatologist’s office at 2:30pm for my 3pm appointment. When I asked how the appointments were running, the receptionist told me that I would be “all set.” I didn’t want to take any chances, so I followed up by asking if that meant that I would get in at or around 3pm and she replied, “Yes, there is only one person ahead of you, you should be fine.” I felt good about having called – like I had beaten the system somehow. I got to the doctor’s office and was checking in about 5 minutes early when I noticed another patient sitting in the waiting room. I took this to be a bad sign.

After glancing at the pile of outdated magazines (Cat Fancy!), I decided to play with my phone – ignoring the large sign that asked me not to use my phone. After what seemed like an hour, I looked up at the big clock on the wall behind the receptionist and saw that it was 3:10. At 3:25, a patient exited the office. At 3:35, the person who had been in the waiting room was called in. The one person ahead of me got in 35 minutes after my appointment time. I focused on thinking dark thoughts about the receptionist while trying to force Words With Friends to take “yer” as a word.

Minute after minute passed. I had hoped to be out of the office by 3:30 and back to work by 4pm, but now that was clearly not going to happen. Tick tick tick. At 3:45, two men came into the office. I wanted to tell them that they might as well go out for a drink, or to suggest some form of patient revolt (silly string attack?), but instead I glared at my phone. 4pm came and went.
Finally, at 4:15 I was called in to the office. I was greeted by a friendly medical student, who took a detailed history, including information about my brother who passed 3 years ago from melanoma. When the medical student was done, I sat about another 10 minutes before my doctor came in. He glanced at my chart and asked, “I see that your brother has melanoma – what happened with that?” This has become an annual ritual, and I realize that he doesn’t have time to remember the history of a guy he sees once a year, but I had just told the med student and had given him the information each of the last two years. He expressed genuine sorrow for my brother’s passing, which was nice of him, and we had a productive appointment.

On my way out of the office, I lingered and asked the receptionist, “When I called at 2:30pm and asked about my 3pm appointment you said it would be on time. What happened there?”
The receptionist looked at me for a second, like a horse pondering a fly it is about to swish away with its tail. “The schedule can change in five minutes,” the receptionist said in an empty, monotone voice. “In fact, today the doctor had 2 emergencies.”

I should have filled the waiting room with an impromptu rendition of the Rollins Band ditty “Liar” because, well, it’s a dermatologist. Dermatology is a line of medicine that, as one of my nurse friends said, “…does not lend itself to emergency treatment.” This is a profession where new patients often wait weeks and weeks for appointments. So, to sum up, I am to believe that in a smallish Central Massachusetts town, two emergency skin cases walked through the door between 2:30 and 3pm on a random Thursday?

Bull. The receptionist just gave me whatever answer would ensure that when it was my turn I would be found cooling my heels in the reception area. I mean, even if two emergency appointments HAD walked into the office between 2:30 and 3pm – the receptionist had my phone number, so maybe a phone call would have been in order? After all, hadn’t I done what she recommended in an effort to save time and frustration?

Usually, I would just take my business elsewhere, but is it worth it to give up a doctor because his office continually, and needlessly, wastes my time? I think the answer is yes, since I think that someone has to take a stand, but I hate to do it (which is why the doctor’s office is empowered to waste my time). No wonder people pine for the days of the house call.

Rants Tim 04 Mar 2013 No Comments

Hot Flashes

So, it may be the understatement of the year to say that I am an opinionated person. Actually, I believe that everyone has just as many opinions as I do, but they don’t have my burning need to share and my incredible passion for being right (or, if necessary “appearing to be right”). But, no matter – I am a man with a point of view, and my focus has recently come to rest upon the children’s television programming that my son, Bronco, enjoys.

It can be, on some level, frightening to have a strong opinion about children’s programming. One of my friends recently called out her husband’s mental state in her Facebook status for admitting that he “really liked” an episode of Mickey Mouse that involved Goofy Baby. Other people chimed in to say that they began measuring themselves for straightjackets when they started to actively debate the question of “Cutest Wiggle.”

I have no such concerns about my faculties, but the other day I did find myself launching into a grumpy old man-style tirade about the “newer” episodes of Sesame Street that run on the Sprout network (I apologize if the following doesn’t make sense to those of you without kids – volunteer to babysit my kids and you will see what I mean).

First of all, the powers that be at Sesame Street changed the song. It was a perfectly good song that was instantly recognizable to generations of people, so naturally they changed it to be more modern. Although it is snappier, the song is now more difficult for my son to learn and sing. The show is for kids like him, so I don’t see why they revamped the song to make it more appealing to people like me…

…Along with the less kid-friendly song, the opening scenes are now a flash of different collage-like scenes, and although I do like the heavyset kid doing a shuffle toward the end, I preferred the older open with Big Bird running around with a pack of kids. Again, one of the reasons I like Sesame Street over other kids’ shows is that the scenes aren’t changing every couple of seconds (I’m looking at you, Bob the Builder) so I’m not sure why they would change the opening to be different than the show itself. Flash, hey it’s Elmo – flash – now it’s Zoe – flash…hate it…

…Maybe it’s just the batch of reruns that I’m seeing, but this newish guy Chris has apparently taken over the show. Whenever there is a “new” show on, it seems to open with Chris doing this or Chris doing that, and Chris mugging for the camera, and Chris, Chris, Chris. I get it – Chris is a shiny new toy that the show wants to use, but give me more Maria, Bob, Alan, and Gordon. Chris is fine, but I need him in smaller doses. I may or may not have deleted episodes off of my DVR when I saw that they opened with yet another storyline based on Chris…

…Speaking of character usage, I want more Oscar the Grouch, more Cookie Monster, more Count von Count, and much less Baby Bear – ideally, no Baby Bear at all. Telly I could take or leave, but I don’t see why Harry Monster couldn’t fill that role.

I am sad to see that Grover, who when I was growing up was my favorite character (or at least tied with Cookie Monster), is now relegated to doing tourism segments, with the occasional turn as an ineffective superhero. I think he needs a new agent…

…My son, as required by law, is bananas about Elmo. To Bronco, the show Sesame Street is simply “Elmo.” If he’s bored with Chris yammering on in some episode, Bronco will demand that I fast-forward to the Elmo’s World part. What strikes me is that Elmo isn’t really involved much in the action of the segment. Instead, he’s like a little red Johnny Carson (if Johnny Carson failed to use pronouns). Elmo opens the show by chatting up Dorothy the fish (Ed McMahon) a bit, then throws it to Mr. Noodle for some hijinks (Mr. Noodle is fine, but I preferred his late brother, Mr. Noodle). When Mr. Noodle is done, there is a segment where kids show us how to do things, followed by a generally unwatchable cartoon. If your child somehow manages to stay interested past the cartoon (or, more likely, if you gleefully fast-forward past the cartoon), Elmo wraps things up with a song. Because Elmo sings, maybe Dean Martin is a better comparison than Johnny Carson, but I’d have to see Elmo with a drink and cigarette to be sure…

…I know that by writing about this, I may come off like one of those people who spend too much time complaining when Facebook does their weekly format change. My wife is generally less grumpy and more accepting of change than me, so I asked her what she thought of the new Sesame Street. She thought about it for a minute, pursed her lips, and said, “They really need to get rid of that elephant character.”

Rants Tim 04 Mar 2013 No Comments

Hot Flashes

Some things that fell out of my brain while I was sleeping last night:
My son was eating breakfast this morning when he suddenly let loose with a prodigious burst of gas from his lower region. His eyes opened wide, just for a moment, and then he then looked at me with all sincerity and said, “Doggy barking.”…

…I’ve noticed that I get a number of emails addressed to “Time.” Sometimes I don’t know how to answer the emails, so I have to go ask my friends Dough and Brain…

…A couple of years ago, I had an issue where one of my back fillings needed to be replaced. Apparently, I’m a high-pressure biter (my theory is that I just eat more than most people). Anyway, my then-insurance company paid their piece of the pie and I got the bill for the rest.

The bill seemed a bit high to me, so I called the dentist office and was informed that the insurance company only paid for the older, cheaper style silver (actually called amalgam) fillings, and that I had to pay the difference between the cheaper filling cost and the cost of white fillings. So, since I already have some old amalgam fillings in my back chompers, I asked if I could just have the cheaper fillings from now on. The answer was no, because my dentist doesn’t use amalgam fillings.

So, there is a disconnect here, somewhere. Is it that my dentist is different in that he doesn’t use amalgam fillings – even though the American Dental Association website says that they are more durable for back teeth (meaning that I have to get fewer fillings re-done, which perhaps reduces my dentist’s income)? In reading about this, I have also read that some people have concerns because the amalgam fillings have mercury in them – although the ADA insists that the combination of metals makes them safe. I can imagine dentists wanting to play it safe and go with the newer technology.

So, are the white fillings now the standard? Even if they are safe, I can’t imagine that anyone would want silver fillings if they had a cavity on their front teeth, for example. Is it just that the insurance company was cheap and lagging behind the new standard to keep their costs down? I can’t imagine that any conscientious insurance company would do such a thing (they are here for you, not for silly profits), so it can’t be that.

No matter whose fault it was, I had to pony up the difference in cost unless I wanted to skip out on my bill and change dentists every time a filling wears out. With the power and frequency of my chewing, I imagine that in time it may become tiresome to drive to New York for a cleaning…

…We almost made it through February without any significant snowfall. To say that I was excited about this is a significant understatement. After last year, when my dog escaped my back yard by simply walking over a pile of snow that rose above my fence, I feel like we deserved a break. In fact, when it snowed last week, it was actually fun to get out and move some of the snow around – but only because I knew it was a temporary thing.

I feel guilty about how giddy I am, though, because there are so many industries and people around that depend upon the white slop falling with some regularity. My hope is that they all banked enough last year to see them through the lack of snow this year. My old friend Rick O’Shea, who plows on the side, saved nothing (as a Yankee fan, he fully expects to win every year). As a result, he’s has had to change from Keystone to Natural Light and from $2 to $1 scratch tickets.

Hopefully next year we can have more of a happy medium – I don’t want to be shoveling every single weekend, and my dog doesn’t want to be leashed all winter. Last year was too depressing, and this year was too exciting (for me), so hopefully next year will go back to normal. But, if Mother Nature in her infinite wisdom decides to have another winter like this one – well, I won’t complain.

Rants Tim 04 Mar 2013 No Comments

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