Monday, July 6, 2009



If you’ve been a reader here long, you know that I don’t normally discuss my work. I think it’s a bit dangerous. No one at my office knows about this blog. I’d like to keep it that way. But there are days when the frustration bubbles so close to the surface that if I don’t do something to vent it, I just might explode!

A tisket, a tasket, Smart Mouth’s about to blow a gasket!

See what I mean? I’m delirious.

The above photograph is not me. It is not my desk. But it is a really good representation of my office. I’m buried in the weeds and there’s not a weed-eater in sight. I can deal with the piles. It’s dealing with the people that’s giving me a hard time. I’m the office manager for what we affectionately refer to as a Boobiologist. (A breast surgeon) And before you get all excited about having a contact in the implant/reduction field, we’re not that kind of booby practice. We deal with breast cancer. Not exactly a funny topic and yet there are days when you have to laugh or you will cry. These are just a few of the things that have been said to me recently.

“I need to see the doctor and I need to see her as soon as possible.” Appointment is given. “I can’t come on that day, my horse is having her teeth cleaned.” You might think I’m joking. I work in a polo community. People take their horses very seriously around these here parts. But when it comes to a possible breast cancer diagnosis, let me just say, PEOPLE! Drop everything. Just go to the doctor. Geesh.

Equine dental appointments are not the only thing for which people will postpone their own breast health. I’ve also heard: cable guy is coming, luncheon date, manicure, pedicure, hair appointment, bridge game, mah-jong, bingo, bunko, and I’ve got to work.

As you can see, I’ve heard it all. The one I hear most often is “I’ve got to work.” Let me be the first to air this PSA: If you ARE diagnosed with breast cancer, this is just the FIRST of MANY medical appointments in your future. While I completely understand that we all have a responsibility to our jobs, you won’t be much good to your employer if you don’t get your priorities in order……..if you get my drift.

I know that most of my readers are women. And women seem to be the biggest problem with schedules. We are all booked solid! Next time, you have to make an appointment to see a specialist because of some abnormal imaging, just take the next available appointment. You can’t all be seen at the beginning or the end of the day. NONE of my doctors make this concession for me. And I don’t expect them to.

I’ve gone off on this topic a little more than I really intended here but instead of deleting, I’m leaving it and allowing you a view from the other side of the desk. But I should point out that we see people at the absolute worst time in their lives. I understand this and stress it to my staff on a daily basis. It is our job to smile and be supportive even when they are being less than pleasant, unreasonable, irrational and insane. Most are true sweethearts and we embrace them all as family. But just like a real family, there are days when they just bug the crap out of you.

As the office manager, I don’t normally have too much interaction with patients unless they have financial difficulties, insurance questions or special needs. However, due to maternity leaves and vacations, I’ve had more than my share recently. And I gotta tell ya, I like it much better back in my cave with my mountains of paperwork because PEOPLE.ARE.CRAZY!

I got a call last week from a woman who had received her bill and had a question.

“SMB, line 1 with a question about a bill.”

I answer by stating my name and asking how I can assist the person on the other end of the line. This is what I heard, “I got this bill in the mail. Do I have to pay this?” Seriously? And by the way…….it was $29.46.

I’ve had people call about bills less than $50 saying that if they had known they had to pay “that much”, they wouldn’t have had the biopsy. Excuse me? Your peace of mind to know that you don’t have a cancer diagnosis isn’t worth your $50 copay? Or worth that diagnosis that tells you that you do have a malignancy but now you can do something about it? Don’t forget that I live in the land of milk and honey and most of these people spend more than $5o a month at Starbucks.

I should also point out here that I'm a soft touch. If you are struggling financially, I will accept payments of $1/month for the duration but DON'T tell me that what we do isn't of value.

Our medical assistant is on vacation this week. She is the only Spanish speaker in the office. Well, except me. I’m fluent in cuban food and Spanglish. I can mangle the Spanish language like nobody’s business. But I digress.

A woman called today and proceeded to speak to me in Spanish. In Spanish, I told her that I was sorry but I do not speak Spanish and “D” is not here. (I don’t know how to say, “on vacation” so I just said “not here”.) But apparently I’ve gotten that phrase down so well, she didn’t believe that I’m not fluent in her language so she continued to speak to me in Spanish. I repeated my spiel. She told me (in Spanish) that she would call back tomorrow. I have since learned how to say “D no esta aqui pour uno semana.” I’m armed and ready for her call tomorrow. (And no, I probably didn’t spell those words correctly, but if you speak Spanish, you should get the gist.)

Thanks for letting me vent here. (If anyone is still out there…………….hello?) I love my job and we do good things there. And I believe we take exceptional care of all of our patients. In this economy, I’m just grateful that I even have a job. Most of our patients make it easy. But there are those few that just crawl under my skin.

I have a sign in my office that I believe says it better than I ever could:

Everyone brings joy to this office. Some when they come in and some when they go out.

Thanks for listening.

Sooooooooooo, how was your day?


Midlife Jobhunter said...

I'm thinking my day was much more boring than yours. Hope you get a boring one tomorrow.

smiles4u said...

Leave it to the few that makes us run home and pour ourselves a drink at Sorry you had a horrible bad day. I love what your sign says that hangs in your office. Very true. Hope your day is much better tomorrow!

JC said...

Vent away ... I'm listening ..

I've been to the specialist you mentioned and luckily only had a mini surgery done ...

I'm sure you deal with all types .. I try to do as my Mom told me long ago .. you have to wait in line .. you can be ok with it or crabby but you still have to wait the same time in line so why not be ok with it ... I try to ...

Hope the rest of the week is better for you ... and I love you saying ...

Bear Chick said...

Oh dear. My sympathies. People certainly get weird. I've done payroll for 25 years and people getting psycho about their money. I try to deal with them, vent to my office mate afterwards and relate it as a "Psycho of the Day" story to The Husband later.

Reader Wil said...

How frustrating your work can be! I hope that the Spanish speaking lady leaves you alone for a while! My day has been boring and wet! It never rains but it pours! Last week a heatwave now rain and thunder!

thyme said...

I deal with computers too much in my work, and not enough with people. So your job sounds quite enviable to me, seriously!

Postponing a medical appointment is often the first thing I want to do after I've gotten one, simply because I am scared to go there. But I can understand that it's annoying although the way you tell it is amusing.

Mrs. K said...

ok my only excuse for the doctor is if it coincides with my daughter's school (i have to pick up, etc.)...because i was left many times at school and know how that feels.

anyhoo...try this with your lady

D no esta hasta el lunes (D is gone until Monday)

D regresa el lunes (D is coming back Monday)

D regresa el lunes, dejame tranquila ya que me tienes una teta hincha! (D is coming back on MOnday so please leave me the fuck alone because you're getting on my nerves) - in spanish we tell people who are annoying you that you've annoyed them so much you have one sore boob and the other one on its way - i know...translation is lost but it's appropriate sorta?

only a movie said...

I like that you left it all up so that we can see what you do at work. I think I would like that sort of environment.

I am often on the phone w/ providers for my kid, and I can sense the exasperation when I can't accept the first appt. they offer me... :-)

blueviolet said...

I think I'd prefer to have a minimal role with the patients as well. I still can't believe somebody asked if they had to pay their bill...

Hit 40 said...

Everyone should have to deal with the public in a position such as yours or mine (teaching). THEY CAN BE VERY CRAZY!!! And, it's hard sometimes not to laugh or smirk at them when they go on their crazy train.

Gaston Studio said...

Can appreciate your frustrations SM, dealing with people (and especially us women) can make you lose your religion. Keep on venting, so that you can retain your sanity.

The Blue Ridge Gal said...

Used to have to deal with people over the phone ALL DAY LONG....... Loooonngg.

Sometimes I just wanted to thwack 'em over the head through the phone. It can really drain a person of their sanity to have to listen to it day in and day out.

Hope today is better for you.

The Blue Ridge Gal

Jan said...

You poor thing. I don't blog about work either, mostly because Beloved would snatch me bald-headed if I did - I once said something about how I was having a crisis at work and the man read me the riot act.

"What if that client read your blog??"

Uh, dear, I doubt that very seriously, and if they did how the hell would they know my crisis was about them? And if they did read it and realize the crisis was about them, then GOOD - they should know how much their f$%&-up has disrupted my life!

Uh...sorry about that. I hope the medical assistant comes back very, very soon.


Dee-Zigns Handcrafted Jewelry said...

This just speaks to the society we live in. People are so damn obsessed with themselves, and not in a healthy way. They are far more important and need to be accommodated in every which way. Pedicure before doctor appt. to see if you have cancer? Those women need to have a reality check and put things in perspective.

That lady complaining about the $29 bill, please! I'm sure her pedicure was more than $29.

I would not be a good co-worker, obviously, because I would be sitting there feeding your fire! Vent away!

nothingfancy1 said...

Vent away!!!! It is so often that we need to vent, so we can regroup and refocus.

I've been a crab at my office lately. Everything and everyone annoys me. Most especially my extremely annoying coworker. I've been trying to stay hunkered down at my desk to avoid contact with people, cuz I know that I'm about to explode/blow at any time. I love my it's not that. I think it just might be that I'm getting to the old and cranky stage of my career. That's not a very nice picture. Sadly.

JOE TODD said...

When my wife gets upset she just throws a Teddy Bear across the room. The Teddy Bear is still smiling That is unconditional love

Maureen at IslandRoar said...

What's the point of having your own blog if you can't vent once in a while. Sounds like you had a really crappy day or days at the job. People can be so draining some days.
Hope today is better!

Delaney said...

Some days ya just got let things rip and I don't blame you at all. People can be insane when it comes to doctor's appointments and scheduling. I used to work in health care field and you hear it all and deal with definite moods. Hope things work out better for you and everyone gets back to work soon so you can return to your sanctuary.

midlife slices said...

That's almost exactly the same sign hanging by my front door only mine says "Everyone blesses this place. Some by staying. Some by leaving". It's so true!!

I'm sure you DO hear it all and wish I were closer so I could use your Boobologist and then I could pay you a dollar a month. You

btw, you're bugging me the entire time I'm trying to write this. Ha!

MilesPerHour said...

The health care field is a tough one all the way around, from billing, to sick clients/patients, to co-workers. Ya gotta love us. (Or complain about us)

Linda said...

I read all the way to the bottom of the page:)
I think we have some of the same customers.
We're here for you anytime you need to vent!

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Geesh. I take off in a second for breast health care. Don't need to scare me twice.

And the ultrasound guided biopsy a few months ago? My portion of several bills (hospital, unltrasound, two doctors) was a little over $200 and I was glad to pay that and not the couple of thousand before insurance.

Once in a while while we are trying to teach, prep, and grade in my little old work world, we have been known to say, "if we could just get out of parent phone calls." That's the worse part of the job.

KJ said...

Hilarious...thanks for the laugh...and reality check from your perspective. :o)

Reader Wil said...

Thanks for the visit and comment! I used to love French chansons, when I was in my romantic period, which lasted pretty long and Gilbert Bécaud was my favourite!

Hit 40 said...

I love Jan's comment. We all post are real feelings on everyone's elses comments!!! LOL

Sprite's Keeper said...

In my line of work, I hear some pretty insane reasonings too, but yours are definitely more life and death.
Hope your tomorrow is a little more sane.

Comedy Goddess said...

You sound like a great office manager! I love the sign in your office too. I may have to reprint it and put it up in my house!

Good job!

tera said...

Love Mrs K's suggestions for you! You should definitely try them. :)
I feel ya'... I try to remember most of my callers (911) are having bad days also, but unfortunately most of them are drunk or crazy, or both, and it does wear after a while.

Today, however, it's all good. I am going on a short vacation to visit my folks tomorrow. So I can bear with today a little while longer.

Hang in there.

Funny Girl said...

And the winner is....YOU! I just gave you an award...stop by to pick it up. You are too cool!

Smart Mouth Broad said...

MLJH-My work days are a lot of things but never boring. I could really use a boring day tho.

Smiles-Amen to that, sister!

JC-Your mom gave good advice. I look at things that way too. It sometimes drives my husband crazy.

BC-I do the Psycho story too but sometimes it's not enough to tell your husband, you have to tell the whole world.....or at least anyone who will listen.

Wil-Hope you are high and dry. :-)

thyme-I am a people person but demanding people drive me crazy.

MrsK-OMG! I love it! I want to learn all my Spanish from you!

Movie-I understand scheduling conflicts, what irks me is people who demand to be seen immediately and then won't cancel their cable guy but expect us to move heaven and earth to get them in.

BV-I know, right? Do you go to the grocery and go up to the counter with your toilet paper and say, "Do I have to pay for this?"

Hit40-The problem is that I'm going to join them on that crazy train one of these days.

Jane-Thanks, Jane. Muah!

Di-Yep, they'll drive us to drink.

Jan-LOL! I remember that post and it would never have been detected by your client if he read it. Be's just being me. :-)

DZ-You're hired! That's just what I need is someone to fuel my fire! LOL

Fancy-I think what we really need is a VACATION! Say it with me now.

Joe-I don't have a teddy bear in my office but I do have a duck that does the chicken dance.

Maureen-I like the way you think!

Delaney-When everyone gets back....I'm leaving! LOL

MLS-I know, I'm a real pest, huh?

MPH-You got that right!

Linda-Thanks for hanging with me to the end, sweetie.

Pseudo-I KNEW you would see things my way. If all patients looked at things like you do, we'd all be a lot happier. Hugs.

KJ- :-)

Wil-I love it!

Hit40-So true. So many of us have family that read our blogs, we can be a lot more candid in our comments on others.

SK-Thanks, I hope so too.

CG-My boss sometimes brings people into my office just to see my sign.

tera-Oh yeah, I can only imagine the things you hear.

FG-Awww, thanks. I'll be over in just a bit to accept. Hugs.

Oz Girl said...

Well. Let me say I'm REALLY looking forward to my first day tomorrow in the Rehab Dept. :-D

As a previous office manager of an advertising agency, I very much identified with you when you said you love your job (I did too) but it's the people that get to you (same here). It's always the people. In my case, it was the owner of the agency. He was a paranoid lunatic. And I dealt with him for 8 long years. ugh.

I've worked in a hospital before, so honestly, I think the Rehab Dept will be a freaking piece of cake compared to my advertising agency job.

I hope you have a better Wednesday!!

Jason, as himself said...

These women and all their boobs, I tell ya. Crazy makin'.

Tony Letts said...

Pity. I could have done with some breast reduction! When I used to work at a desk I had an infallible system. I kept everything in one pile. That way I knew where any given thing was - in the pile. Keep your chin up!

Optimistic Pessimist said...

so frustrating. no one at work knows about my blog either. I try not to wrote about work but some things are just too good to not write about. i wonder when it's going to come back and bite me in the ass?