I’m sitting with my girlfriend in a doctors office (a specialist of some kind) at the Cedars Sinai complex. Nothing more fun than spending time in a waiting room, but fortunately I have a laptop and a wireless card to pass the time.

A woman walked in soon after we arrived saying she was here for a 10am appointment. The receptionist – let’s call her Madge – said, “no, we’ve always had you down for 11:30am”. The woman insisted she was told 10am, and Madge stonewalled and said, “Nobody ever told you 10am – its always been 11:30am”. The Jedi mind trick worked, and the woman accepted that she must be wrong and left for the time being.

At first I felt sympathy for the office staff – they probably have to deal with people like this all the time.

A few minutes later, a guy walks in, fills out his paperwork, and is told by Madge there must be some sort of mistake – they don’t accept his medical plan. “But I specifically asked before setting up the appointment,” he says. Madge snaps back, “Sir, noone would have ever told you that.”

He backs off and leaves. He said, she said. Man – it must suck to have all these confused customers. I can’t even see Madge – from my angle she’s just a fuzzy outline behind smoked glass. Still, I picture she’s one put together, clean cut broad.

Another man shuffles in – seventies or so. He says he’s here for a 10:30am appointment. Nope, Madge says. He’s scheduled for 11am. No, the man replies – he’s certain he was told for 10:30am. Thats why he’s here early.

Madge tries to use the force again: “”Nobody ever told you 10:30am – its always been for 11, sir.”

Hmmm. The old man pauses, reaches for his wallet, and pulls out the appointment reminder card. His voice never raises. “This card you gave me last time I was here says 10:30am on it.”

He hands it to Madge, who looks at it, grumbles, and explains, “Sir, this isn’t my handwriting. I didn’t write this.”

At the very moment, the man’s doctor walked by, saw him, and welcomed him in. “Glad to see you’re a little early!”

I’d like to rally the world for a class action suit/jihad against all the Madges of the world… more specifically, at Cedars Sinai. Any other takers?

8 thoughts on “Madge”

  1. It has been my experience that those people who hold one small piece of power will always wield it with the utmost vigor. It is as if that power is the only power they hold in the world. If they can prevent you from going somewhere or doing something, they will. Of course, some people are just jerks, too, and enjoy messing with people.

    I am sure that if the doctor had been privy to these customer interactions they would have been livid…or at least, should be. Nothing like chasing away your customers. Of course, they could just wake up one day and wonder why their practice has failed. Never realizing they were driven out of business by the person at the front desk.

    The best thing any of us can do when this occurs is express our complaint to someone “in charge” and, if given no satisfaction, vote without wallet and walk, while also telling our friends about the experience. Maybe, eventually, something might change.


  2. Like Douglas said, it’s all about whatever scrap of power is bestowed upon these individuals and how they choose to wield it. Some will elect to be courteous and responsible, many others will choose to be Madges.

  3. As a cedars employee, i’ve run into far more not-madges here than madges. but they do exist, just as they do everywhere else. 8(

    most docs here would definitely not be happy with madge, nor would HR. they emphasize respectful, courteous customer service to every employee – regardless of whether or not you interact with the patient-customers.

  4. … and this is private sector work we’re talking about here!!! As an architect, I could tell stories for days and days about that sort of behavior at City Halls, County Admin offices, etc… and let’s not forget about “the mother of all battles”… a visit to the DMV. Hey, at least the DMV has improved – actually, quite a lot – the past few years. Let’s just be glad we don’t live in some place like, say, Uzbekistan with their surly, arbitrary, armed and often quite dangerous “customs agents”… That said, there is a good way to deal with those “madges”… and the elderly man handled it well. Had his doctor not come by I can imagine him calmly taking it up with the head of the department. The key… remain calm, professional but firm.

  5. What makes this exceptional is that its hard to bring your business elsewhere when it comes to medical specialists… and, unfortunately, this sort of situation is more common than not at Cedars. I should point out that I think its common all over the healthcare field – my stepmother is a doctorate at a medical college, and even she complains about this stuff.

    The problem does often cause actual damage, as sometimes having lost paperwork, or misscheduled appointments, means extended pain for patients who are there to try and find a solution, cure, or whatever.

    With Cedars situations in the past, complaints have been followed, but theres been no follow thru on what happened next. But Cephyn is right – even so sometimes a complaint to HR is necessary.

  6. Most hospitals have a Patient Advocate, Patient Relations Department, or something similar. They exist solely to deal with situations like this. In my experience, they’ve always been very quick to respond.

  7. Shit such as you describe would make me want to go postal. It seems like nowadays there is just no accountability anywhere. I would’ve made sure Madge was at the very least, written up for her scheduling shenanigans. I shudder to think what kind of treatments (chemotherapy, etc) these people were missing because of Madge and her little power-trip.

  8. I would no more say Cedars runs this way than anyplace else: petty authority has been around as long as there have been people congregating in groups, and if you don’t believe me, I have a stack of Russian novels I can loan you.

    What joy it brings me that you were there to capture the whole situation! Any single incident might be overlooked or brushed aside, and, I suspect, frequently is.

    I hope you told the doc about the rest of this woman’s shenanigans. What a (female) putz.

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