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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Doctors Are Always Late


At 6 p.m. on the Friday before Labor Day, I learned that a flight attendant in Costa Mesa had a cold. I prefer not to drive 46 miles during the rush hour, so I promised to be there between 9 and 10. That was acceptable. Airline crew are not demanding.

Five minutes later a guest at the downtown Doubletree asked for a visit. This was a bad juxtaposition. Scheduling it for after Costa Mesa meant an arrival time near midnight.

Reluctantly I told her to expect me at around eight. Since it was the evening before a holiday, I gave myself over an hour for a 25 minute drive. To my surprise, the freeway flowed freely, so I was early. I worried the guest might not be in the room. When I say I’ll arrive “around eight” guests often hear “eight.” They leave, planning to return at eight or a little after. But the guest answered the door.

The freeway to Costa Mesa was also fast, and this time no one answered my knock at 8:30. The front desk was unhelpful.  

This was a situation I hate. Airlines have strict rules about sick crew, so this guest required a visit. If I waited until 9 and then left, I might get a call on the way home. If she was out partying, I might get it several hours later. I did not acquire my peerless reputation by refusing calls, so I’d make the return trip.

As I fumed and paced, the guest returned. I expressed relief, but she did not apologize. She was present at the appointed time, and no one expects a doctor to be early.

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