I used to work part-time in a cardiologists office when I first moved to NYC. The doctor was a friend’s uncle, and they decided to help me out by letting me work two days a week at $12 an hour. I was waiting tables as well, but the extra cash was always welcome. Half way through the year, their small office in St. Vincent’s Hospital decided to combine with other doctors to open a large practice on 7th Ave. I went with them, and did odd jobs around the office.
One morning I went through the files of a particular doctor, and called the patients he hadn’t seen in a while. The purpose was to set up checkups with these patients and alert them of the new place. No one was really picking up the phone and I was leaving a lot of messages. “Hi, this is April from Dr. So and So’s office, and he would like to see you in the new office on 7th Ave. Please call us back at your leisure to set up an appointment. Thank you.”
After an hour of random calling, some people were actually picking up the phone. I started getting a lot of “don’t call my home again”, or, “No! He/she is not here!” followed by abrupt hang ups. I was calling New Yorkers, so I didn’t think twice about the gruffness.
I finally got a woman on the phone that paused and started sobbing after I asked to speak to her husband. “He has been dead for two years, please don’t call me again”. I hung up the phone and immediately felt my heart sink. About 20 people were going to come to messages on their answering machine asking when their dead spouse was going to come into the office for a checkup.
I asked the doctor, “Why am I really calling all of these patients?” He replied, “To see which ones are dead, so I can put their files in storage.”
Feeling duped, I left for the day.