Hump Day

I am dedicating this post to an amazing woman. This past Friday she looked death in the face. One week later, she has beat the longest of odds and begins the long road to full recovery. I have not had the stomach to write one of my kitschy stories this week…till now. Bek, this one is for you.

You know how I always say that Mondays suck? Well, this week, so did Wednesday. It is always a very long day but normally it’s easy. Chris is home. By the time I crawl through the door the kids have done their music, dinner is waiting, the counter is scrubbed, the towels are folded and everyone has done an extra hour of Algebra practice.

This week, he had to work. So, not only did I have a particularly CRAPPY day (backed up the minute I started, bad shoe choice, hem of my pants unhemmed–by the way, scotch tape DOES NOT work) but the kids had to spend three hours roaming the office till I was done. By 5:30 they were cooked. Who could blame them? A kid can only make so many Duck tape wallets in one afternoon–and a Mom can only pretend to love so many in that same afternoon.

On the way home, I think about the two hundred charts on my list. I promise to immediately go into the home office and plug away at them for a while.

Think again. The home office has a combination lock on it (different post.) The combo has been changed (reason: another post.) I call Chris on his cell. No answer. I am exasperated. I call the office line. No answer. Now I am getting mad so I call the private line–which is promptly picked up by Chris–himself.

He is answering his own phone because our night receptionist was ill and left suddenly.

I hear millions of lines ringing in the background and babies screaming. He is laughing but I can feel the tension. “Can we discuss this LATER Christine??” Ah-Ha! He called me “Christine.” He must be having a bad night. By the way, detecting subtlety is my strong suit.

My mouth is on autopilot. I have volunteered to be his receptionist. Like a hero, I fly down to the office. I don’t care that I am still in my full dress clothes (hem unhemmed) and flip flops.

For four minutes, all is smooth. I answer one call and write down a message. Then another. Next thing I know, two lines are ringing at once. But I have it. Multi-tasking is my other strong suit. “Sure, I can call in the prescription for you–I will just take care of that right now!” “Referral for an appointment in one month? Sure thing! Let me just get the information from you. –Oh no, you don’t need to call back tomorrow!”

I. Have. Got. This.

There is a patient waiting to check in.

“So, you have a $10 copay.” I am so nice. This job is so easy. Note to self: tell all receptionists their job is easy so stop complaining.

The pleasant mom opens her wallet. I pray she has cash because I don’t know if I can work the credit card machine. I see a wad of green bills in her wallet but she hands me a Visa. Why, why lady? You have got cash right there! Seriously? I swipe the card and randomly punch keys. I hand her a pen, relieved that a charge slip printed out. She gives me a dubious look. I guess she notices the beads of sweat on my forehead.

I remember I have not peed in 7 hours.

Someone on the phone is asking for a refill. The message light is blinking. Behind me, the cleaner is already vacuuming. A kind-faced mom motions to me that there is no toilet paper in the bathroom. I can’t tell if she needs some right now or if she is just being helpful. I walk the ten miles to get to the supply closet. I have the toilet paper. But, alas, some contracting genius felt it necessary to LOCK the toilet paper dispensers–no doubt to deter those pesky toilet paper thieves. Of course, I have no idea where the key to the toilet paper holder is. I stand for a minute when I hear the phones going nuts again. I literally throw the roll into the bathroom and run back to the phone. Note to self: Kill the moron that decided toilet paper needed to be locked up.

My little trip to the bathroom reminds me of my bladder but I can’t go yet because now there is a mom in front of me. She looks mad.

“I need to see the doctor right now.”
“He is with a patient, can I get him a message?” I am sickeningly sweet.
“He just saw my son. My son is going to school. My son is sick. I would like to know why he did not give my son something.” She is not being sweet but she certainly has established that the tall handsome boy next to her is her offspring.

Digression: Chris is a great doctor. He makes decisions that are in the best interest of his patients ALWAYS. When people put him down, I get enraged.

I can’t stop the words piercing through the air.

“And, how exactly would YOU know that? You are NOT a doctor” she seethes.

With that, she and the male human she gave birth to (AKA her “son”) leave the building. It is only my bladder that keeps me from climbing up and over the check in counter and right out the door behind them flashing my laminated medical license.

Note to self: give all receptionists a big raise.


  1. Sounds like you had an OMG day. Wow!! One good thing came from this tough. It gave you a whole new appreciation for what your receptionists handle on a daily bases. That’s a good thing. But yes, I agree with you – why is toilet paper locked up?? The things in life that make you say “hummmmm”. Bet the key is now located and placed in a common area where you can find it, or did the lock get smashed so a key isn’t necessary anymore? Personally, I’d go with smashing the lock. : ) Marlene

  2. Christine, I recently relocated here from Denmark (Europe) with my family and my husband and I both decided to go with your practice as our go-to doctor! (kids are with Chris!). We have not regretted that for a moment – and I just love following you here – you make me laugh – and you give us insights into your life, so you’re not just a doctor – you are human like the rest of us! ;) So thanks for that – and yes smash the locks of the toilet paper holders…should one decide to steal a roll, it’s not the end of the world…and it might even look funny when they try to hide it while getting out of the practice! ;) Karin

    • Majbritt Schmidt says:

      Hi Karin -This is on a completely different note. I could not help but to notice that you were from Denmark. I am also from Denmark. There is a small group of us around here that get together regularly. We celebrate Danish holidays as well as just get together to chat and have fun. Feel free to e-mail me privatly if you are interested and I can connect you with everyone. You can also find us on the “DK Moms NY” Yahoo Group. Hej saa laenge.

  3. Christine, It is amazing what those receptionists do! Sorry you had such an awful day. Love that you can put an amusing twist on crazy! XOXO Stay strong and thanks those wonderful receptionists today! – Doc Shannon

  4. You never realize how much receptionists put up with until you step in their shoes for a moment! I agree, though, am not sure if you need to lock the toilet paper!

  5. Great story, sorry the day was such a stressor.

  6. Anne Kutzer says:

    You just always make me laugh. It does help to walk in some one else’s shoes. Your descriptions are hilarious.
    Have a good day.

  7. Your ability to hold it (mostly) all together is such a joy for me. You have been my Dr. for a long time now and I’m grateful for your humor and insight. Keep it up

  8. Marilyn Clarke says:

    You are something else. Life is so grand after reading your blog! There are suppose to be keys kept in the lock for the paper towels and toilet paper. Maybe someone took it out and did not replace it. A conundrum!

  9. My son is a patient of your wonderful husband! I don’t know how I came across your blog or for that matter exactly when, but I’m thrilled that I did. I was having a not so wonderful day till I read your post. It made me laugh out loud!! ( Something I rarely do especially while reading!Even the family dog came to stare at me!) It’s always reassuring to know that doctors are humans too :) Your article was the perfect pick me upper! Keep on writing Dr. and I’ll keep on reading.

    • So glad I helped your rotten day.. As you can see I could have used a chuckle myself yesterday! Meyer family stories are always good for a laugh!

      • Sheila Meyer says:

        I love your posts! Just what I needed as well. Been feeling down lately due to my leg injury and that story made me laugh! I used to be a medical receptionist so I can relate to what your front staff does daily. They are great!

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