Receptionist hears doctor and staff ridicule patients

Published 8:16 am Thursday, April 29, 2021

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DEAR ABBY: I work as a receptionist in a small medical office. I love my job, but I cannot tolerate when my co-workers make fun of our patients. Sometimes it happens while the patients are still in the exam rooms, maybe within earshot. Even the doctor contributes to this crudeness.
Some examples: “Did you see the size of that guy’s nose?” or, “What’s with the color of her hair?” or, “He smells like he hasn’t had a bath in weeks.” This goes on throughout the day every day. Is there anything I can do or say to change this mindset? We have great patients. — AT A LOSS FOR WORDS

DEAR AT A LOSS: The person who’s responsible for the lack of respect for the patients is your employer, the doctor. If this is happening sometimes within earshot of the patients, I am, frankly, shocked that he or she has a medical practice.
There is nothing you can do to change the culture in that environment. Because it upsets you — and I can certainly see why it would — you might be happier working for another doctor.
DEAR ABBY: My daughter “Tiffany” is 12. Her best friend, “Wendy,” lives down the block. We are good friends with her parents.
How do I put this: Wendy is a thief. She has no impulse control. When she comes over, she helps herself to whatever is lying around, mostly candy and trinkets. For this reason, we no longer allow friends into our children’s rooms.
Recently, another item went missing, and my daughter spotted it at Wendy’s house. I told her she should say something and take it back, but she is shy. I want to say something to the parents, but I’m afraid it will ruin our friendship. I don’t think the mother knows her daughter does these things. Any ideas? — STICKY FINGERS

DEAR STICKY FINGERS: If the shoe was on the other foot and your daughter was stealing things from her friends’ homes, wouldn’t you want to know what was going on so you could deal with it? Talk to Wendy’s mother! Tell her you don’t want to spoil a friendship you treasure, but Wendy has a problem she needs to know about. If you ignore it, the problem will only escalate.
DEAR ABBY: Would you please settle an argument between my husband and me? One of us thinks it’s OK to dry our everyday dishes with the same dish towel we clean our dog’s bowl with. The bowl is first rinsed with soap and water then wiped with the dish towel. One of us thinks it’s disgusting. The other disagrees. Would you wash your dishes with said towel? — CURIOUS IN KETTERING, OHIO

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DEAR CURIOUS: Although the dish may be perfectly clean after being washed with soap and water, because of the “ick” factor, I sure wouldn’t.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)