Monday, December 3, 2012

Doctor Kathy

I still have a Hawaiian area-code for my phone number, so when I get wrong numbers they're usually from back home. It's kind of cool, I get a blast of kama'aina attitude and Pidgin to remember my roots and wake me from my haolie dream of wall-to-wall whiteness. (I know there's a couple of vocabulary words in that last sentence that will leave most of you generating question marks - let's just say it's a taste of home, and leave it at that.) I can usually tell, when an unrecognized number with the 808 area code pops up, that I should answer in Pidgin and tell them that they've got the wrong number, "'ass why."

And then there's Doctor Kathy. I don't actually know if she takes a K or a C in her name, let alone what she's a doctor of, but I gave her the K on the Evil Erik principle of naming -- good Erics are spelled with a C, evil Eriks get a K. And I'm mad at Doctor Kathy.
Lord knows she doesn’t deserve it; she doesn’t even know who I am. We’ve never met. But she – or more, likely, her administrative assistant – misprinted her contact information somewhere, at some time. It may have been on a website, or a set of business cards; maybe it was on one of those banners you get at health conventions and then get to keep, so you hang it up rather foolishly on the side of your own building because you don’t know what else to do with it. So maybe the assistant is absolved as well. Regardless of this, someone, somewhere, misprinted Doctor Kathy’s phone number. They printed my phone number.
So I get semi-panicked phone calls every few weeks, with people who just cannot hang up fast enough when I admit to being merely me, and that I in fact have no medical practice whatsoever.  I still don’t know what medical field I am robbing of clientele; whatever it is, people aren’t feeling chatty when they finally decide it’s time to turn to Doctor Kathy – aka, me.
I always disconnect a little sadly. I’m the disappointing/startling/embarrassing/worrying stumbling block on these people’s road to wellness. An unplanned addition to the familiar dance of symptom development, scheduling, appointment and payment that they probably didn’t want to do in the first place. And here I am, not a doctor, and REALLY not their beloved Doctor Kathy, whose familiar voice they immediately recognize as not being not my own. I have ambushed them, led them astray of their objective. There’s nothing I can do for them – No, I don’t know her current number. They never blame me, but I’ve heard the disappointment/startlement/embarrassment so many times. I wish there was something I could do.
That’s when I turn to blame. Friggin’ Kathy! Update your contact info, lady! Haven’t you noticed the slowed traffic in your customer contact? Send out a mailing list! Let your people know how to reach you! Get a new admin assistant!
At least leave me your contact information, and cut me in for referrals!


  1. Our number used to be one number different than a local refinery and thankfully I knew the number and could send them on their way.

    1. I bet you could have really challenged some assumptions if you'd wanted, since you knew who they thought they were calling: "Hello, local refinery and fireworks factory; if this is to report another accident, please press 9...1, 1."

  2. Oh, I hate wrong numbers!

    Growing up we were one digit away from Hazelden Recovery Center, and we used to get middle-of-the-night calls from drug addicts and alcoholics. Oddly, my father would usually just stay on the phone with them, talk them down a bit, and encourage them to return to sobriety in the morning.