I read an abusive Fragile White Male (FWM) the riot act this morning – and it was glorious.
My illness has endowed me with a certain fearlessness in dealing with bullies. I urge *you* not to wait to speak up.
Scene: Interior of a busy Doctor’s Office, where several patients wait in chairs
Two female Medical Assistants are behind the counter: One Assistant is making a first appointment on the telephone with a new patient, while a patient waits in front of her to check out. The other Assistant is patiently explaining to Broseph P Entitlement, a sullen 30-something Fragile White Male in a too-tight V-necked sweater, how it is impossible to know how much his bill will be for today’s visit until after it is submitted to his insurance and they pay their portion. She keeps explaining this simple tenant of health insurance that he keeps pretending he doesn’t understand.
“Yes, but, YOU didn’t tell me that when I made the appointment,” Broseph P reprimands this woman who is old enough to be his mother. Her mouth smiles blandly at him, while her clear eyes do not, and she begins to explain to him again that what he pays is dependent upon what his insurance will pay, and that is spelled out in his insurance contract.
“I don’t *understand* how you can run a business like this!” Broseph P gets loud – and the Medical Assistant on the phone needs to end the call because it’s getting hard to hear, and she checks out the man in front of her.
“Why won’t you do this for me? Why are you being so difficult?” Brospeh P whines.
A middle-aged woman who is there to find out how much her lung function has decreased in the last 6 weeks – let’s call her Claudia – has been watching the performance and is giving heavy side-eye to an oblivious Broseph P. She steps up to the Medical Assistant who was on the phone, and rolls her eyes meaningfully as she checks in, getting in return a look that says ‘Right?’
“You gave me this story when I made the appointment that the tests could run anywhere from $200 to $1,200!! How can you NOT KNOW how much your own tests cost?!!” he continues far too loudly.
“Sir – I know what the tests cost, but I had no idea what tests the doctor would order. It’s not ONE test that is $200 to $1,200 – the different allergy tests he orders all have different costs, as the literature we sent you pointed out.”
Claudia leans in and says soto voce, “How come you can’t tell me how much my whole meal will cost before I’ve even ordered anything?!!” and the Medical Assistant checking her in stifles a chuckle.
“I have a balance from January I need to pay,” Claudia says in a normal voice, as Broseph P pumps up the volume about how UNFAIR it all is. Claudia finds that February’s appointment has processed through as well, and hands over her debit card to take care of the balance for both months.
Broseph P is nearly shouting, enjoying that people are uncomfortable, and starting to stare. “It makes no sense that you have no explanation of what happened today!! This sheet is just numbers and letters. How can you call this an itemized bill?!”
“This is what we submit to the insurance company, the bill you get in the mail will be itemized in a way you can read.”
Claudia is handed back her debit card and given the receipt to sign.
“How do I know you’re not ripping me off?! This is ridiculous – I won’t leave here without an itemized bill, and until I know what I owe.”
“I’ve worked here 16 years, sir, and you’re the first patient I’ve had this issue with,” said the Medical Assistant with the patience of a saint.
At that point Broseph P turbocharged his rage, racing past being loud and obnoxious, and hitting a new land speed record for being flat out abusive. “Yeah? Well, I don’t think you know what you’re doing. YOU aren’t very smart and you don’t know what you’re doing!! How do you stay employed? Why haven’t they fired you?”
Claudia could not bear another moment of hearing Broseph P Entitlement abuse the kind people at one of the only doctor’s offices left in this cold world who still treated her like a human being, and not a Dead Woman Walking. She snapped.
“Oh my god – SHUT. UP!! Seriously: Give it a rest!!! You’re being an abusive asshole!!”
The collective look of shock on everyone’s face was supremely satisfying to Claudia.
Broseph P made a face like he was smelling spoiled milk, and began to open his mouth, but before he could let more garbage tumble out Claudia continued with righteous indignation, her arm stretched out in the classic ‘Talk to the Hand’ pose, “There is no *reason* for you to speak to her that way. None.
“You’re abusing her because you don’t understand how your own insurance works. It’s not HER fault you didn’t read the fine fucking print!!”
Suddenly employees from all over the office began popping up around the reception area like curious prairie dogs, eager not to miss the excitement. Every waiting patient had looked up from their phone.
Claudia leaned towards Broseph P, never breaking eye contact, “Here’s the thing: I don’t work here, so nobody’s going to fire me when I tell you how much of an entitled little douche-bag asshole you are. You’re bullying this woman because you don’t like how the insurance YOU CHOSE works, and you can’t seem to grasp that the system is based on diagnostic codes they submit for reimbursement, and not the handwritten explanation [Here Claudia briefly broke into flawless Valley Girl-speak]‘Broseph had some itchies we tried to figure out, K? Thx.’
“What is *wrong* with you that you think you’re entitled to treat people that way? I have NEVER spoken to a medical professional the way you’ve just been doing for the last 10 minutes, and my life *revolves* around begging insurance companies and doctors to allow me to have the treatments that keep me alive.
“That bill I just paid is for my January and February appointments – that’s how it works!! You go to the doctor, and 6 weeks later you get a bill telling you what your responsibility is. You’ll get a bill, too – trust me on this, Brah. You’ll get a bill. You always do – they never forget.
“I spent $30,000 out of pocket last year on medical expenses just to stay alive, and you’re up her ass because you don’t have your $200 FUCKING BILL TODAY? Are you fucking kidding me?!! Let. It. Go!!
“I went to the doctor 124 times last year, and I had 81 radiation treatments. I spent every third day in a doctor’s office or a hospital, and I’ve seen a shit-ton of disputes about bills and insurance. I have NEVER seen anyone act so pathetically entitled and make it so very personal the way you just did. You’re a healthy man standing here arguing just so you can bully women who can’t talk back because they don’t want to lose their job. What the *fuck* is wrong with you that you need to do that to feel like a man? Don’t you have some puppies you can go kick, you entitled douche-bro asshole?”
Broseph’s mouth was partially open as Claudia took the clipboard from the stunned Medical Assistant who was helping her, and she pleasantly said, “I’ll update my info and get this right back to you.”
You could have heard a pin drop on the carpeting.
“So.. then… I’ll get an itemized bill in the mail?” Broseph said, looking around the waiting room to see if even one face was encouraging him, but all the other patients were busy texting about the dramatic spectacle that had unfolded before them.
As Broseph P beat his retreat Claudia tried to stare him in the eye, but he avoided her gaze, all the while knowing in his secret heart that he was still the Smartest Boy In The Room.
When Claudia was called back for her appointment she was applauded by the staff and the Doctor shook her hand. The abused Medical Assistant hugged her hard, and the Respiratory Therapist said it was the finest, funniest thing she had witnessed in a dozen years of practice.
Claudia pondered the moment and realized: You take your wins where you can get them.