the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Passive-Aggressive Dentist

Several weeks ago, I had a dentist’s appointment.  Sophia’s mother passed away that week, so I had to cancel.  The dentist was not happy because he said “he was waiting for me.”  I rescheduled for the middle of July.

In the middle of July, my FIL went to the hospital, and I had to cancel again.  They were not pleased.   Maureen, the dentist’s receptionist said so on the answering machine.  Sophia called up the dentist’s office and explained the situation.

I rescheduled for yesterday.  Every day for the last week, leading up to yesterday, I would get a phone call at 3PM from Maureen “reminding” me about the appointment to “make sure” that I was coming to it.

Yesterday, two hours before my dentist’s appointment, I received another phone call from Maureen.

“Dr. Fine has to cancel your appointment today.  He has an emergency procedure he has to perform.”

“Uh, OK…”

“Is this payback?” I wanted to ask her.

“Yes,” I assume would be Maureen’s answer.

Sophia was able to get me an appointment for tomorrow.  This morning I woke up, feeling under the weather.  I told Sophia that I have a cold and I’m not sure how I will feel tomorrow.

“You’re going to the dentist if you have leprosy,” she said.


  1. Otir

    *That* would be really aggressive, to pass on leprosy onto your dentist! Sophia is a genius.

  2. Elisabeth Donato

    I am a totally hopeless passive-aggressive, and I am an expert at canceling doctor’s and dentist’s appointments, but I try not to “abuse the privilege.” When I returned from Europe, I found a message from my doctor’s office on my voice mail, telling me that they had to reschedule my late August appointment, and I was afraid that it would be rescheduled for five months later, because my doctor has this weird schedule. But, in fact, they rescheduled me for the previous day, so all was good.

    Yeah, passing on leprosy to your dentist would be the ultimate act of passive-aggression.

  3. sarah

    The receptionist told you they were not pleased with you?! That is a ballsy dentist’s office. If you’re not feeling better, I’d go & carry on about how you couldn’t bear to *cough cough* cancel again, so you hope *aaaa-chooo* it’s okay that you came today. Sneeze a lot.
    I’m not passive-aggressive, though… 😉

  4. Danny

    Any doctor or doctor’s receptionist that gives you attitude with what you’ve been dealing with deserves to lose a long-time patient. There are plenty of good dentists in L.A.

  5. The Mom(aka Amy)

    Making someone a receptionist and it is like they have became a Haitian Dictator and I mean a Papa Doc quality dictator. I say screw them. Do what you want? Give them leprosy or the clap or whatever floats your boat. Just be sure to cough extra hard on the Papa Doc Receptionist.

  6. Philly Jewish Amy


  7. Mik

    Dang, I would find a different dentist is the receptionist gives you stick, they didn’t charge for canceling did they?

  8. Casey

    Dentists have one of the highest rates of suicide of any profession*.

    Maybe because of habitual rejection?

    Just a thought.

    * I only heard this, am too lazy to research it and have no idea if it is true.

  9. headbang8

    leprosy should be no problem for a dentist. A chiropractor, maybe.

  10. Di

    Good lord. Do you think they’ve forgotten they are service providers … to put it down in its most basic form? I would be unimpressed and changing dentists. Here, they just charge you if you forget the appointment or forget to cancel and get on with their lives.

  11. Annieham

    Perhaps less passive-aggressive dentist and more assertive-aggressive receptionist. The dentist may not even know she’s talking to people like this. Sadly for Ms. Receptionist “Karma is quite the tricky gal.” Do what is right for you, life will catch up with her.

  12. Erykah

    we have been having similar issues with our family dr as of late. I missed one or two appointments b/c of transportation missed connections, then when we rescheduled he was called away. this was back in mid june. it’s august and i’m hoping on the next appt we will finally connect. i dont think the provider is passive-aggressive – the secretaries generally are lol

  13. teahouseblossom

    Son of a b#$%^$#!!!! No he didn’t!

  14. Oscar Zed

    I changed therapists after 35 years. That was easy, because she retired to Rancho Mercedes where all good therapists go to raise horses and learn Catalan.
    But after a couple of years of death & tragedy, I thought I needed a new shrink.
    I got a good one, and we were working some hot analyses when her receptionist called to cancel. “She had an infarct, and may die” was not what he said, but I inferred.

    I finally went back today, 4 months later, but apparently she doesn’t do Mondays.
    What a bounder!

  15. James

    Hey what do you call a dropout or never managed to get into the medical schools? A dentist!!! I just love how a dentist has the personality of God and pretend they are a big shot. I mean what do you have to do…like have a 1.5 GPA and get less than below average in one of those entrance exam to qualify to the top Dental School in the US? Even the most clueless human being can get into the Dental school and still manage to ace most, if not all, of their board exams. Most dentist just look at your gum for several seconds and charge you up-the-roof and then reschedule you for expensive procedures so they can rip you off legally. Dentistry is the biggest sham ever purported in the human existence and if one think this through deeply, it might consider as pseudo-science as well. Word of advice to those who are seeking for a profession, which pays lot more than a dentist and you will get social values out of it without getting a dirty look from people every time they hear what you do: A medical doctor with M.D.. That is all!

  16. Dentalsave

    Some dentists are passive aggressive just like any other group of people. Some have no patience and some are just jerks.
    So, yes, it happens. All we can do is continue to try to motivate people to take responsibility for maintaining their oral health at home.

  17. turismo dentale

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