I was recently at a medical practitioner’s office when a young, maskless woman rushed into the office searching for an emergency care facility. Despite signs, and a request, the woman remained maskless. Without a “please” or “thank you,” the woman insisted that the receptionist assist her in entering the address of an urgent care facility into her phone. After the kind receptionist finished assisting her, the woman explained that she was taking her children to get a COVID 19 test. No apology for potentially exposing the administrator to the virus. To that woman, she was just one of the “little people behind the desk.”
Last month I was at a doctor’s office when an affluently-dressed man approached the receptionist. He appeared to be a retired “master of the universe.” He informed receptionist that he had a 10 a.m. appointment in another location and since that location was inconvenient, he wanted to see the doctor in this facility. The receptionist patiently explained that his doctor only saw patients in the other location.
During the conversation, she remained cordial, but insistent, the doctor would not be ignoring his other patients and drive to that facility. After losing this argument, the man announced that he would be willing to see the doctor in this location for his 10 a.m. appointment. The receptionist explained that the waiting room was full of people who had 10 a.m. appointments with this doctor. He was unmoved by the full waiting room, and the dialog continued for another 10 minutes or so. She remained patient, but insistent. He remained dismissive, after all, she was one of the “little people behind the desk.”
On another occasion, I watched a gentleman arrive at the wrong doctor’s office. Once he was informed of his error, he insisted that the office staff member take him to the correct facility. She explained that she needed to stay to assist her patients; but he was unimpressed, after all, she was one of the “little people behind the desk.”
These are just some of the incidents that I have witnessed in the past year; I can only imagine what these office staff have had to endure.
Yet, these employees consistently meet demands with kindness, gentleness, and firmness. They go above and beyond to help people without many “please” and “thank you’s.” And yet, “the little people behind the desk” somehow remain friendly and helpful; ready to make the next patient feel comfortable and relaxed.
I want to thank all of you for your kindness. Thank you for making me feel at ease. Thank you for making a difference in so many ways.
There is nothing little about you.
Angela Rieck, a Caroline County native, received her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland and worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and other high-tech companies in New Jersey before retiring as a corporate executive. Angela and her dogs divide their time between St Michaels and Key West Florida. Her daughter lives and works in New York City.