* * Anonymous Doc

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wednesday mornings, the attending has been bringing us bagels.

It's nice of him.

Except they're stale. Every time.

I don't know if he and his wife buy bagels on the weekend, and he brings in whatever they have left by Wednesday, or if he buys them from a place that discounts stale bagels in the middle of the week, or he buys them Tuesday night and leaves them in his car, or he's just happened to find the worst bagel place in the world, but they're so obviously stale and everybody knows they're stale, and because he's the attending we have to pretend we're enjoying them and we're grateful for them and we try to force down a couple of bites before throwing them away.

It's a nice gesture gone bad.

It makes me hate him. It's not fair, but it makes me hate him, because I know he can afford fresh bagels if he wanted to. I know he makes at least three times what the residents make, and probably a fair bit more than that. I know he doesn't have to bring us anything, but if he's going to decide to bring us something, I hate that he brings us garbage. And I hate that we're all too intimidated by the hierarchy of this place to say anything.

I mean, if he was a friend, maybe I could say to him, "hey, it's nice of you to bring in bagels-- and maybe it's the humidity in here or something, but they're always pretty stale." But he's not a friend. He's a person who has to evaluate me, and whose evaluation will be seen by the program director and incorporated into the fellowship letter that he has to write.

I shouldn't care about the bagels. I really shouldn't. I should just say I ate breakfast already, or I should take one and then throw it out if I really feel like there's pressure to take one. There are so many bigger problems here than the bagels. Like the patient we don't have a bed for, who we didn't even know existed until the ER paged me and asked why I left my patient in a bed in the hallway, struggling to breathe. And I said I don't know who you're talking about. And they said I have a new patient, and she's in the hallway and can't breathe. And that I should do something about it. So I ran down to the ER to find this patient I'd never seen before basically not breathing, and I look at her chart and she's been assigned to my team but no one told me and we don't have a bed for her, and she's just another patient who falls through the cracks and gets processed by the ER but there's no room for her, so she sits in the hall and waits and no one knows she's there and no one takes responsibility and it's only by accident that someone notices she really needs to be intubated and should be in the ICU except there are no beds there either, so she's in no-man's-land getting intubated in the hall.

That is a bigger problem than the bagels.


  1. Microwave for 30 seconds brother.

  2. Get the patients involved in a game of floor hockey, using the bagels as pucks?

  3. I like the emotional journey in this post. Bagels not such a big deal from that perspective are they?

    Another way to look at it is to be happy he's bringing in nasty bagels and not tasty donuts. Coworkers who bring in snacks are some of the hardest diet busters...

  4. And we call this a 1st world country???? Not the health care system....