Sunday, June 24, 2007

Humble Pie

When I arrived at work on Friday, Dr. K was already waiting for me. And I do mean waiting.

We actually pulled in at the same time, about half an hour before the clinic opened and fifteen minutes before I was supposed to be there. As we both got out of our cars, she shouted hello. I waved back and shouted, "Hi, I'm just going to the Pancake House to grab a cup of coffee!" A strange way to greet someone, I know, unless you are trying to avoid carrying whatever of the voluminous tote bags stuffed with medical tomes she is dragging around that day.

So I ducked into the coffee shop and spent ten minutes or so fixing my coffee and joking around with the staff. When I reemerged, my boss was sitting on the bench outside the door to our office. "Hey," I said with surprise.

"Hey," she replied. I stood for a minute, wanting to see if she would make any effort to enter the building. Finally she said, "Oh, I couldn't get to my keys. They're in my purse. Would you mind unlocking the door?"

Oh, I'm sorry, my keys? Yeah, they're in my purse too. What are we going do?

"Sure!" I said, juggling my coffee, my lunch, and my own textbooks in an effort to get at my purse. "Yep, just. Give. Me. A minute here." My voice was strained as I dug blindly through my bag, trying to avoid spilling my coffee on her or braining her with Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn.

I found my keys, unlocked the door, and held it open for her. She stood and scooped up one of her bags. "Would you mind getting that for me?" she asked, nodding at the other one. I tried to grab the handle while holding my coffee, books and bag, still keeping the door propped open with my toe.

"Oops, sorry," she said as she scrolled through her Blackberry.

"Oh, no. Don't even worry about it, it's okay," I drawled. "Really, I don't mind. No really."

She gave me an odd look and went upstairs.

As we set our bags down, she asked, "Did you see the banner?" See, a few weeks ago she ordered several signs: a Plexiglas plaque by the outer door, a sandwich board on the side of the road, and by far the most expensive one, a "Now Open" banner to hang from the roof.

I thought. "No," I said, "I didn't." I remembered going outside the day before to check out the banner and being surprised not to find it. I had thought that maybe I'd misunderstood her and that only two of our signs had been delivered. Now I learned differently.

"Uhhhhhhh," she huffed, sounding like a steam engine. "UUHHHHHHH! This is just so frustrating!!" She sat down at her desk and cradled her head in her hands. "He told me they would be there. He said he'd installed them on Wednesday and now it's Friday. Why would he have told me that if he didn't install them? Unless somebody stole it." She looked up hopefully. "Do you think Nighttime Pediatrics stole it?"

I thought of the shiny-faced nurses who worked in the office below us and stumbled groggily to their cars every morning, their cheerily printed scrubs creased and damp-looking. "Well," I said hesitantly. "It doesn't seem very . . . likely. Does it?"

She frowned. "Yes, but apparently they were upset with our sandwich board. That's what Jim said, so maybe . . . " The unfinished sentence hung in the air. Maybe they used their superpowers to fly up onto the roof and rip down the vinyl abomination once and for all.

"Hmm," I said after a minute. "I don't think so."

"Well then, the only other alternative is that Jim is lying." She picked up the phone and jabbed angrily. After a minute, she spoke. "Uh, Jim? Yeah, hi. This is Dr. K. You were supposed to put up my signs the other day? Yeah, well that's what I'm calling about. Why did you tell me you hung the banner?" A pause. "It is not there. No, I mean, we checked. We checked several times."

Her voice became more punctuated. "Well, no, I didn't drive by on Wednesday night," she scoffed. "I had other things to do on Wednesday night. But my assistant was here yesterday and she didn't see it." Another pause. "So what your saying is, somehow it disappeared between Wednesday night and Thursday morning? Is that what you're saying?" A shrieking tone crept in. "Blown over onto the roof? No, you're not listening to me, Jim. We checked. It looks as if some studs were drilled into the wall and now something has been removed. It's gone." A final pause, then, "Thank you! Okay, we'll see you soon." She closed the phone with a snap.

"He's going to come out and look at it."

But not before picking up his body armor from the dry cleaners, I thought.

Jim showed up a few hours later, scrambled up onto the roof, and with a heaving grunt, flipped over the sign. It had been twisted by the wind and lay nestled on the eaves, hidden from view. As we stood squinting in the parking lot, our necks craned back to take in the full power and beauty of our sign, Dr. K folded her arms.

"Oh," she said.

Turning on her heel, she marched back into the building.


Nivek Yrurd said...

Did anyone actually go on the roof and check before she told him it was stolen? She sounds crazy, I will make a mental note if I need chiropractic work to stay far away from Dr. K!

MamiCritterGal said...

We did go out and look before she called him. We really couldn't see any sign that there had ever been a banner there, although there was evidence of an older more sturdy sign that had been drilled into the wall, probably by the previous tenant.

This is probably a good time to emphasize that, while all the stories here happened pretty much as I tell them, I absolutely heighten the absurdity now and then, rearrange the order in which things happen, and just plain delete certain things altogether, in an effort to make the reading as entertaining as possible. That means that, while Dr. K is high-strung, high-maintenance and frequently assumes herself entitled to service, she is just a smidge less crazy than I portray her to be and a great deal more kind, engaging and encouraging. I could spend this whole blog cataloging her virtues but let's face it, that just wouldn't be as funny.

So in fairness to her, I will say this: a balanced character portrait would reveal a woman who regularly praises my performance, brings me gifts, seeks out and respects my opinions on how to operate her business, and sacrifices her own income to make sure I receive a great salary that is at least two and sometimes three times greater than most people in this region receive for the same work. She gives away her services for free to nuns, priests, rabbis and other religious professionals, works out lower rates for people of reduced means, and comes in on her days off to treat patients who can't come in any other time.

Pretty boring, eh?

Also, despite the fact that she is demanding and perfectionistic, I pretty much rule the roost. She is explosive but never makes a move without consulting me and I can't think of a single time that she hasn't followed my advice. I try to be modest and nurturing so that she doesn't feel dominated but in reality, I play a large role in shaping how she operates as a practitioner, as a businesswoman, and as an employer.

I'm the Karl Rove to her W. :)

I actually think it's really cool that you responded that way. That's the response that the writing is supposed to provoke and I love reading the "She's crazy" comments. But I feel obliged to remind folks that all is not as I have written it and please remember, a new patient for Dr. K means keeping your good ol' sis employed - definitely a good thing. :)

Oh, I have to say one more thing (and this is true): after she hung up with Jim, she pulled out a coloring book and some crayons and started coloring a picture of a giraffe "to help get rid of the stress." And then she asked me what color a giraffe is.

Did I just shoot my flattering portrait all to hell?

Well anyway, yes she is crazy, but at least she is never boring!

Nivek Yrurd said...

Nonetheless it makes for a very entertaining blog.

MamiCritterGal said...


Luap Otisopse said...

It's upsetting that she made you get your keys, when your hands were apparently just as full, if not fuller!

I'm sure 2 or 3 times more salary will help you put up with these annoyances, huh?!

Between the sibs and other/better halfs, we could probably do pretty well for ourselves at a big country family villa and farm in Italy! I'm in...