Thursday, March 3, 2011

A feverish Finn was staying in a Hollywood Hotel last Sunday. Treating flu symptoms is never satisfying, but I was pleased to learn that he was taking nothing for the fever. I handed over some Tylenol, and when I called back that evening he felt much better.

The following Monday was President’s day; hotel doctors look forward to holidays because freeway traffic is lighter. Sadly, no calls arrived. None arrived Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday. Deep down, no one believes in the law of averages. If you flip a coin heads ten times in a row, that’s not a fluke but as likely as any other combination. And the odds that the next flip will be heads remain fifty/fifty. It’s guaranteed that someone will win the lottery, but the winner always credits God. After several days without calls, I conjure up images of a rival sweeping up my hotels with irresistible charm or twenty-dollar bills.

The phone sprang to life early Friday, a lady with a respiratory infection at the Georgian, a boutique beach hotel in Santa Monica. It rang again as I pulled up at the entrance. The caller was JI, a Japanese travel insurance agency with a patient in a downtown hotel. Ten o’clock is perfect for driving downtown, fifteen miles away. Rush hour traffic dips until noon when it begins a steady climb toward the evening rush.

“I can be there within the hour,” I said only to hear that the patient wanted someone between 2 and 6. I explained that people don’t realize how quickly I arrive. I could be there in 45 minutes. She checked but informed me that the guest wanted to go on a tour. Disappointed, I agreed to arrive at 2. The phone rang soon after I returned home, a lady at the airport Westin whose husband was coughing. Did I accept Medicare? I didn’t. American insurance pays little for a housecall, and billing requires skill and immense patience; foreign insurers do better. I gave directions to a walk-in clinic a mile away. The majority of elderly Americans decide that paying for a housecall is preferable; she assured me she’d call back if she wanted a visit, but she didn’t.