“Do you take insurance?” asked a Biltmore guest after learning my fee. She was 26 years old and an American.
Hearing that she would have to pay up front and submit my invoice, she decided to wait. She was suffering an upset stomach which would probably clear up in a day. I gave advice and told her to feel free to call.
“Could I have your name and room number?” I asked before hanging up.
“Is that so you can charge me?” she asked.
“Phone calls are free,” I said. “I just need to keep a record.”
An hour later she called to say she had changed her mind. Could I come?
Her vomiting had stopped but not her nausea and headache. After an exam, I gave her two packets of pills: one for nausea, one for the headache.
“How much are these?” she asked.
“Nothing.” I assured her that she was over the worst of her stomach virus.
“So it’s a minor problem that will go away. You came, but you didn’t do much for me.”
I agreed that I hadn’t cured her but perhaps I had helped in other ways. I could have mentioned the convenience of a housecall and the medicines I handed over, my long drive to the hotel, and the fact that my fee is less than the going rate. None of this would have worked. I simply expressed satisfaction that she was improving and told her to phone if problems developed.
“And then you’ll come back and charge me again?” she asked.
I explained that I rarely make a second visit for the same problem, but I would try to help.