Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday Re-runs

Due to various amounts of family junk this weekend, I'm re-posting this from a while back.

As my regular readers know, I moonlight as a consultant for various medical market research companies. It's a thankless job, but somebody has to pay for the tomatoes.

So last night I had a dinner meeting with neurologists and sundry other specialists to review data on an up-and-coming product.

These are never fun, because neurologists by nature are a remarkably pathological group of personalities. Back when I worked at Humungous Neurology, Inc. the partners would argue if it was dark or light outside. I think they invite the other specialties to these as a buffer.

But I digress.

So I was seated next to Dr. Harangue, who I'd had the good fortune of not having seen in at least 5 years. In his own mind he's a giant in his field. To those outside his mind he's an obnoxious boil. He may have once been a good doc, but as they say in Hollywood "you're only as good as your last picture". And his was made before Casablanca.

Neurologists will argue over anything. The meal started with a dispute across from me over who's bread plate was who's (right or left? GET YOUR BREAD OFF MY PLATE!) followed by a fight over which fork is used for salad. Somebody actually dragged the maitre d' to the room to settle the issue (no, it wasn't me. I sit still and keep my mouth shut as much as possible).

I'm not much into the swanky places they have these meetings at. I ordered a steak. I had no idea how complex this was.

Waiter: "How would you like that cooked?"

Dr. Grumpy: "Medium."

Waiter: 'That involves a light red center. Is that okay?"

Dr. Grumpy: "As opposed to..."

Waiter: "Well, rare is a pink center."

Dr. Grumpy: "Medium is fine."

Waiter: "I can do medium rare, too. That's a pink/red combo".

Dr. Grumpy: "What's wrong with medium?"

Waiter: "I'll just do medium-rare-plus for you. That's a pinkish-red."

Whatever. I'm trying to order a steak, not pick out draperies.

Then the talk began. Every time a doc involved in the study was mentioned, Dr. Harangue felt the need to interrupt and say "I know that doctor personally. We've been close friends for over 25 years." By the end of the meeting I was hoping they'd mention a study done by Hippocrates or Woodrow Wilson to see if he knew them, too.

After 15 minutes of talking, the speaker stepped out from behind the podium to show us all that his zipper was down, with his tucked-in shirt hanging out of it. A tactful internist promptly yelled "Christ! Your fly is open!" to drop a subtle hint.

Then they brought dinner. The cardiologist next to me had ordered prime rib (no comment), and the waiter accidentally set my steak in front of him, and his prime rib in front of me. I pointed this out, and he quickly switched plates.

The cardiologist had a freakin' FIT! "I don't want that now! It was in front of him! He could have H1N1, or worse! Doesn't the heath department check you places anymore?!!!" It was, literally, in front of me for less than 5 seconds.

So I quietly started my steak, while they went to get Dr. Germaphobe a new prime rib (actually, I think they just brought him back the old one).

The next speaker showed us a seemingly endless series of graphs. After 20 minutes of this, she asked if anyone had any comments. Dr. Phlame at the end of the table immediately raised his hand. "Yes, I want to know why you chose red and blue as the main colors for the graphs. I think mauve and maybe yellow would be much more aesthetically pleasing. Also, I think some ruffles or curvy lines around the slide border would be nice."

This was immediately followed by Dr. Harangue chipping in "Dr. Phlame, do you live under a freaking rock? This company has been using those colors for years. But back to the data, did any of you people think to compare these results to a 1954 study by Longdead, et al?" The speaker (and everyone else there) had absolutely no clue what he was talking about, and Dr. Harangue chewed us out, as if it had just been published last week. When I looked it up, the study investigated a drug (that's no longer in use) for an unrelated condition.

Throughout this excitement the waiters kept refilling our glasses (ENDLESS DIET COKE HEAVEN!), so dysfunctional personalities were not improving with repeated doses of Burgundy and other wines.

In one discussion, to argue a point about a competing drug, an internist actually reached into his pocket and pulled out a product insert. I swear! He had it with him, all scrunched up. After reading from it like it was a bible he sat down and began arguing with a pulmonary doc about when daylight savings time starts.

We made it through another 15 minutes of polite discussion before Dr. Germaphobe cardiologist began tapping my shoulder. "Hey, Ibee!"

I turned around "What's up?"

"Are you gonna finish your roll?"

Stunned, I looked at the bread roll I'd absently left on my plate. It was buttered, and I'd taken a few bites out of it. "Uh, no, I'm full".

"Thanks!" And he grabbed it. So the guy who'd refused to eat an untouched steak was now chomping on my partially eaten dinner roll. Amazing what a bottomless glass of wine will do.

As we sat through another set of slides, Dr. Harangue's cell phone rang. He answered it, speaking loudly enough to be heard in the next county (i.e., his usual volume). "What? Yeah. No, I've got another half hour of this shit. The drug company people won't shut up."

The dinner ended 20 minutes later. To make sure all points were covered, the moderator specifically asked "Dr. Harangue, are there any other comments?"

No answer. It was the only time he'd been quiet all night. He was in a burgundy stupor, slumped face down next to his creme bruleƩ. He was still there when I collected my paycheck and left.


Aimee said...

Haha, I loved this story, goes to show you get crazy people everywhere you go :)

Anonymous said...

feel the love

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of weirdos!

Anonymous said...

I think I've transcribed Dr. Harangue before. Yells a lot and turns away from the mike to argue with anyone else in the room. Fun.

Anne, another transcriptionist who loves, loves, loves your blog!

Anonymous said...

LOL, those dinner meetings always remind me of how thankful I am to be done with med school. Too many crazies all in one place. (Or rather, 96 of us that just want to eat and listen while 4 others have to add their own $0.02 and argue in order to make the meeting twice as long.)

Anonymous said...

A tactful internist promptly yelled "Christ! Your fly is open!" to drop a subtle hint.

You had Christ for a speaker? Wow.
At the dinners I attend for microbiology people, we get to look at pictures of copious amounts of pus while we eat.

Polly said...

"they went to get Dr. Germaphobe a new prime rib (actually, I think they just brought him back the old one)."

I think they brought him back the old one, but they spit in it first. Serves him right.

Anonymous said...

I, for one, am vastly annoyed that the computer whizbangs have gotten rid of ASCII codes for "cents" (the c with the slash) and degrees (formerly ALT 248).
But that's another story.
They pay you to listen to this s***?
Guess they'd have to.

Ben S said...

I found a patient of yours.

Jon said...

Do you realize that people not in medical professions pay big money for this kind of entertainment?

Dave Trowbridge said...

Sounds like a dinner meeting scripted by Terry Southern. Great story!

lbparker said...

Just shows that education and manners are not the same thing. They don't teach manners in most schools. Unfortunately.

wv= genth: gents after the tenth glass

Anonymous said...

And now because of that post the following Jimmy Buffett lyrics are in my head:

We're stayin' in a Holiday Inn full of surgeons, I guess they meet there once a year. They exchange physician's stories
and get drunk on Tuborg beer.
Then they're off to catch a stripper with their eyes glued to her G, but I don't think that I would ever let 'em cut on me...

Amy said...

Now I'm terrified that one of these nutty people could be my doctor someday.

Mimir said...

Haha, this is fantastic! You make conferences sound like so much fun!

pharmacy chick said...

LOL, I had to laugh because we recently had a meeting with a bunch of pharmacists. 1) I hate meetings and 2) I especially hate meetings with my peers. they usually involve windbags who promise to keep you on topic (they dont) they promise to keep you on schedule ( they wont) and promise you will go away with information that is crucial to do your job ( it isn't). there is no place to retreat to for fresh air where there isn't another pharmacist whining about the injustices of the business (tell me something I haven't already blogged about) and all I am doing is doodling with the free pad/pen and playing with the condensation on my glass of water praying this day will finally end.
I think I will have to blog about this day...

Dr. J said...

Neurologists make anesthetists look like socially adept normals.....
Dr. J

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I work with someone
like Dr. Harangue (In his mind he's
a giant in his field. To those
outside his mind he's an
obnoxious boil.) He works as the
service manager and it seems he is
only happy when he is putting
someone else down. And he is
always putting everyone else down.
Unfortunately the owner won't do
anything about it. It's gotten
very depressing going into work
these days. I hate to leave
because I've been there almost 24
years but it just keeps getting
harder and harder to go in. And
it used to be a fun place to work.

Mrs A said...

well it could be worse, you get paid, fed and booze for free, we have to listen to drs rants all day long!

Loren Pechtel said...

Is that waitress trying to see how small a tip she can get?

Anonymous said...

Pharmacy Chick: with my luck, my free pen is usually a dud that won't write, so I can't even doodle! One can do a lot of core and leg exercises while sitting seemingly still on a chair though, especially if the tablecloth hangs on the floor in front. Nobody notices and at least the time is not 200% wasted. Also releases some ADHD stress...

suzy pepper said...

Hahahahaha oh this story had me in stitches!

Lisa said...

In a past profession I was a moderator for focus groups with various medical specialties. You have pretty much described it to a tee. However, our doc's were lucky to get sandwiches and cookies. You guys really scored.

Dissector said...


Coke Zero is better - once you've tried it you'll never go back.

I avoid drug company dinners like the plague for all the reasons above - there's no such thing as a free dinner

Packer said...

As my Daddy used to say when I tried to upbraid someone with my superior intelligence: Trying to prove yourself to be the smartest jackass at the jackass convention does not really change things that much.

Anonymous said...

And we trust these people with our lives? Give me voodoo instead.

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