The Messy Doctor’s Office

January 17, 2013 | By | Comments (9)

Doctor's File

A few weeks ago I went to see a new doctor who was recommended to me by one of my regular doctors. (I suppose you have reached a certain age when you can write “one of my regular doctors.” It’s not exactly like I’ve got a corps of doctors at the ready but, you know, it’s a growing list.) This new doctor seemed terrific and capable in every respect, and I walked out of her office a satisfied customer.

And yet…her carpeting was dirty. Is it crazy that that drove me crazy? There are certain places where I spend money that I expect to be dirty, or dirtyish: a mechanic’s garage, say, or the Petco grooming department. I can even forgive my local post office for appearing a bit shoddy from time to time, what with all the revenue the USPS has lost with our incessant emailing and texting. (I still make my kids send thank you notes in the mail.  Does that make me positively Downton Abbeyish?)

But I do not expect an expensive coffee shop to be dirty; nor the salon where I get my hair cut; nor my company’s cafeteria; nor the waiting room of a fancy doctor on a fancy street in fancy New York City. Is that wrong of me?

Now anyone who works at Real Simple and reads this blog may be sniggering behind her hand because, truth be told, my carpet (at least the carpet under my desk chair, where I eat lunch more often than I would like to admit) is not exactly pristine at all times.  But I am not in the health field, and I don’t require anyone to take their clothes off in my office.  At least not that I can remember.


  1. Kay

    It’s not crazy that it drove you crazy. When any of my doctors’ (At that age too.) have dirty carpets or the one that makes me even crazier is dirty walls it actually kind of creeps me out for lack of a better word. They may be perfectly capable, but I expect them to be much cleaner than I could ever aspire to be.

    January 17, 2013 at 4:07 pm
  2. Melissa

    It would bother me, too, but … I used to work in a surgeon’s office. Each day, the lobby and office areas started out pristine, but by mid-day, the place was a pit. It’s amazing how many people spend time in the waiting room each day … and if each one leaves a newspaper, drops a tissue or comes in with mud on their shoes, it quickly spells disaster area. Naturally the chief concern of the office staff is getting patients in the door, seen and on their way. They don’t have time to tidy up after people who should be cleaning up after themselves. Hopefully, the cleaning crew is doing it’s job at the end of the day, and by the next morning the office is ready to begin again.

    There’s a good reason (most) salons are exceptionally clean — they’re regulated by state boards and can be closed down on a moment’s notice if they are caught in violation of strict guidelines. Call it crazy, but it seems they’re held to a higher standard than doctor’s offices.

    I applaud you for requiring your children to send thank-you notes by mail — we have the same rule in our house. Good manners will never go out of style, and an email is not the equivalent of a sincere, nicely written thank-you note!

    January 17, 2013 at 4:34 pm
  3. StephieLou

    I’m with you! Sounds like your doctor needs a check up with a designer. Heavy traffic? Ditch the carpet.

    January 17, 2013 at 10:11 pm
  4. Lorie

    I am no neat freak. Even after working in the cocktail lounge of an upper class, very expensive hotel and seeing a few cockroaches, I did not get too upset. But when I went to a large dermatology practice that was listed in Chicago Magazine as one of the city’s best dermatology practices and saw human hair scattered visibly on the floor, I knew then that I would never go back or recommend that office. Seeing that hair made me think that nothing was clean in that office.

    January 18, 2013 at 11:52 am
  5. Molly R

    Agreed! Get this….. I took my son to the pediatrician’s and we had to see another doctor because his was on vacation. This pediatrician had roots that were in MAJOR …I mean…major need of a touch-up. I have no problem with women going natural or grey. But you must choose a side. As Yoda said, “Do or not do…there is no try!” She obviously colors her hair….but was way behind. I couldn’t help but obsess. Is it because she’s too busy? Maybe she’s to busy to correctly diagnose my son! Has she been in court for a malpractice suit and couldn’t be bothered? I just got 5 new gray hairs obsessing about it.

    January 25, 2013 at 5:04 pm
  6. Janie S

    Why didn’t you mention it to the doctor and get his/her advice? Seems that might give you a clue whether or not to continue there.

    February 2, 2013 at 6:19 am
  7. pat cook

    I have the full complement of specialists with pristine offices who make me feel that they only care about how many tests and billing codes they can rack up. My primary, on the other hand,spends time thinking about what I have said, uses that information to accurately diagnosis it and still wears a lab coat that is not so fresh. He got my blood pressure under control in 2 visits after 2 years of tests, er visits and specialists. I overlook the coat.

    February 3, 2013 at 12:25 pm
  8. Barbara Dunn

    Dirt can be offputting. I’d like to extend the conversation to include thinking about what complicated lives women live. Right now, my own carpet is SO filty, but calling the cleaners is so overwheling, it’s unthinkable! Here’s betting her staff are responsible for office maintenance and your doc doesn’t even notice it as she walks around. I say let’s cut her some slack and consider she may be like the rest of us, overwhelmed with life in general. Seems she’s a good doc in every other way–finding a good fit with your doc takes some doing. Now, if she doens’t wash her hands that’s a real issue worthy of discussion!

    February 4, 2013 at 10:02 am
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