the doctors who had to leave

A busy Saturday night. My staff and I are hustling.  But there will be no “no-shows”. Our reservations are timed to the minute and without a no-show, we’ll need every table to move along at a rapid pace or the bottleneck will kill us at 8:30 when the last seating will arrive and be “pissed” when their table is still occupied.  After 6 years, you’d think I’d b e used to it.  Many hosts and owners resort to being rude. I’ve always believed in giving the guest the chance to be trained.

This night we have 3 couples at our prime table.  It’s near the front door; everyone can see you and you can see everyone waiting to be seated.  Tonight’s group,  I think, are doctors.  They eat well.  Buy good wines.  Save room for dessert as instructed by the menu copy. And then their spending comes to a grinding halt.  We clear all dirty items and leave the check.  They pay and continue their conversation.  The server removes their empty wine glasses.  Then the back waiter removes the last empty coffee cup and water glass.  They lean further in to talk to one another, paying no mind to the ever growing line of people breathing down their throats to get their chance to eat.    I apologize to those waiting and promise it will be just a few minutes more.  I step up their table and smile.

“You’re doctors aren’t you?”

“Yes,” one gentleman replies.

Hmmmm…. I have a question. Sort of a medical ethical dilemma.”

“yes yes… do tell” one responds. They turn their attention to me.

“well…. Here it is: You are at work.  Your receptionist tells you there is a patient in exam room 1.  You go in.  Listen to his concerns, give him your answers and write an order for a test to be done.  You tell him “to see the receptionist on his way out”.

You leave the room.  Your receptionist tells you the lady in exam room 2 is ready.  You address her concerns, write her a prescription and send her to see the receptionist on her way out.  When you come out, you see the door to exam room 1 is still closed.  You look at your receptionist, she gives you the “hands up / don’t know” sign and sends you to exam room 3.  There you continue to do what you do: examine, dispense advice and get paid.  After treating this patient you return to reception to find that the door to exam room 1 is still closed.  Your curiosity is piqued.  You look at your receptionist.  She says she doesn’t know what’s going on, but tells you that she now has 3 new patients waiting and that you are late for their appointments.  You walk into exam room 1 to find the light out.  When turn it on, you see your first  patient, curled up on the exam table, napping.  What do you do?”

I am not sure I’ve ever seen 6 people grab their coats, laugh and leave so quickly in my entire career. Every time any of them returned to eat I was asked to ‘tell the story of the night you kicked us out”.  Proving….. that educating people with humor can always make you friends.

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