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Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Dog-Eat-Dog Business, Part 5


I was attending a guest at L’Orleans when there was a knock. The guest was not dressed, so I opened the door to find myself eye-to-eye with another doctor. I recognized him as one of several young, entrepreneurial physicians eager to serve hotels, including mine.

Hotels occasionally summon a second doctor when the first is slow arriving. I arrive promptly so the sight of this doctor meant that L’Orleans had called him first, unsettling news.

“Looks like a communications slip-up,” he said cheerfully. “It’s nobody’s fault,” he added. “But it’s only fair, since we both made the trip, that we split the fee.”

I closed the door in his face and went back to work. When I returned to the lobby, the concierge apologized for the mix up, blaming the impatient guest.

She handed me an envelope. A few luxury hotels prefer paying me and adding it to the guest’s bill. When I counted the money later, I saw it was too little. She had given half to the other doctor. If she hadn’t, I realized, she wouldn’t have received her referral fee.

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