Bribery Will Get You Everywhere At Busy Prenatal Doctors’ Offices

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When you’re 32 weeks pregnant and feeling vulnerable – never mind completely hormonal –  it really sucks when your doctor’s receptionist is mean. Or, in my case, when the women behind the desk at the ultrasound lab give you the stink eye for no good reason. They seem to have a general disdain for anyone who dares to approach them with anything more than, “Hello, my name is ______ and I’m here for my 2:30 appointment.”

At least that’s what happened to me during both my pregnancies. From 32 weeks on, I’d go for twice-weekly ultrasounds because of a mature (calcified) placenta. Every Tuesday and Friday, I’d leave my busy office and head to the lab – always apologizing profusely and freaking out over how much work still needed to be done.

“How are you?” I’d ask the receptionist with my warmest smile. Never mind that I was usually frazzled and always sweating my ass off (what can I say? Pregnancy made me sweat). I figured this a person who works hard, who gets a lot of shit from annoying patients, and so maybe a simple “How are you?” would make her not hate me. But every time, without fail, I’d be met with a cold “You’re speaking to me because…?” type of glance, followed by a terse “Sign here” and the occasional eye roll.

After weeks of dirty looks and unbearable wait times – sometimes I’d be sitting in that cramped room for a good two-plus hours – I decided to pull out the big guns. I drove directly to Tim Hortons. (For you non-Canadians out there, Tim Hortons is like the original Starbucks. It’s not nearly as fancy but it’s a much loved Canadian institution.) There I purchased two dozen bite-sized “Timbits” – or doughnut holes – in flavors like glazed sour cream and sweet apple fritter. I packaged them up and brought them to my next ultrasound appointment.

“These are for you,” I told the women behind the desk. “You guys work so hard, I can see you barely even have time to take a break. Enjoy these Timbits – you deserve them!”

I felt like the world’s biggest ass-kisser. Because, clearly, this was blatant ass-kissing.

The other patients in the waiting area stared at me like I was either some kind of genius or the biggest loser in the world. But, if you ask me, it was the former. Because, from that moment on, I was treated like royalty.

“Hi, Shawna!” they’d sing in unison at all my follow-up appointments. “How are you today?”

The office ring-leader would often tell me that wait times were extra long that day, so maybe I should go and grab a bite or take a little walk and come back in an hour or two? Or, if by some miracle there was a short wait time, she’d tell me kindly to relax and stay put.

The senior technician, Jennifer, was my favorite – she was warm and nurturing and seemed to have such a genuine concern for her patients. She was also fast. The office receptionist, my new BFF, knew this, and so she’d often tell me, “If you want to wait an extra five minutes today, I’ll put you in with Jennifer.” I was golden.

I learned that a simple act of kindness can go a long way. Of course, I had ulterior motives with mine – I just wanted to be treated nicely – but, in general, it reminded me that people have their own shtick, and that sometimes just showing your appreciation can mean the world to someone who’s had a crappy day. [tagbox tag=”labor and delivery”]

A close friend, who’s 34 weeks pregnant with her second, had a similar incident. She was dying to get an appointment with her OB/GYN following some scary ultrasound results, but when she called the office she was told she’d have to wait another week because the doctor was too busy. “It’s not an emergency,” she was told, “so you’ll have to be patient.”

My friend was flipping out, though, and she was desperate to see her doctor – if just for some reassurance alone. So she called the office incessantly until, finally, the receptionist told her, “Fine, just come in tomorrow morning at 8. But be prepared to wait.”

“I’m bringing you a coffee,” my friend told her. “What do you take in it?”

“Baileys!” she replied (jokingly?).

So the very next morning, my friend brought her a coffee and muffin with a little 50 mL bottle of Baileys. They cracked up and, well, they’ve been besties ever since.

(Photo: iStockphoto)