Worse Than A Fruitcake

Each holiday season is fraught with fear for some physicians. Want to know why? Brace yourself.

Dun, dun, DUN!

Baked goods from patients.

Let me tell you a story…

Back in med school I spent several months at a rural family practice clinic. There I met a terribly annoying woman who was in her 80’s. She was crotchety. She cussed. She spewed all manner of vile venom.

I hated her.

One day, I had enough. This woman had been in four of five times and each time was more and more hateful. Why do you keep coming back, for crying out loud?!??? She started in on me that last time and before I knew it, I had cussed right back at her.

Bracing myself for the repercussions, I closed my eyes.


I cracked one eye open, carefully.

There she was, grinning at me.

Could it be that I had won her respect by returning in kind? Sometimes that works. Seriously.

A few days later, there was a chocolate pie delivered to the clinic from her, specifically for me. I was overjoyed! I cut a slice, reveling in my victory.

As I was swallowing the third bite, I saw it. A Christmas card. Various items were *taped* to it: paper clips, pen tops, used Micky Mouse stickers… taped down with bandaids, some of which looked as if they had been used previously. On a wound.

A lump formed in my throat.

I put down the rest of the pie and flipped open the card. It was addressed to me. From her. She said she had enjoyed our last appointment.

Nowadays I have a very difficult time eating anything made by patients. I worry about their hand washing skills. Did they lick the spoon and keep using it? Do they hate me? Mostly, I worry about those bandaids.


108 thoughts on “Worse Than A Fruitcake

  1. What a horrifying moment!! Have you seen The Help and the “special pie” that was made for of the more hateful women? Back in the day, I worked community mental health and when anyone tried to give me food, I just explained that the agency wouldn’t let me have it. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. EEEW EEWW EEWWW! As someone who loves to bake and give it away, I find it disheartening that people do that… (Coming from the person who brought Christmas Nuts to her co-residents today) But I guess that’s different…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Love this story! Reminds me of when my husband and I were doing wedding cake testing. At one of the places, the baker had a giant, gaping, bleeding wound on her thumb and served us our cake without first washing her hands and with her wound touching our cake pieces. And to top it off, we were tasting a raspberry-filled cake. Let’s just say we did NOT go with that place.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. When I worked there was one woman who was notorious for not washing her hands. She loved to cook and would bring things in for any celebration. After that I developed a policy of not eating food from anyone. I worked in human resources. Everyone hates human resources. I know it wouldn’t have killed me but still…..

    Liked by 2 people

  5. LOL! Oh that is too funny. You should come be a country doctor in the middle of nowhere, they get live chickens. Seriously, in the year 2014, Sadly, these chickens are often an attempt to pay a bill, rather then a genuine gift, but hey it’s the thought that counts, right? It is extremely difficult to tamper with a live chicken however, and cleanliness is usually not a big issue.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Shhhhh, we don’t know no thing about the illegal πŸ˜‰

        It’s really maddening, many of us used to either pay cash or barter for our routine medical care. The roofers, the plumbers, everybody worked on the doctors house for free, because if we didn’t already owe a bill we soon would. It worked very well, even poor people had coverage this way.

        Alas, that really is all illegal now. The eye doctor has informed me he can’t even give a cash discount to the people who pay outright.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s funny. Disregard the baking I sent you in the mail πŸ˜‰

    When I was an apprentice hairstylist, I used to get all the clients no one else wanted. One of those was a lady like you described above. Add in she always had stomach problems which came out whilst I was cutting her hair. Despite her misery she always asked for me and would only let me wash and cut her hair. She also tipped me which she wasn’t known to do. I think we had an unspoken understanding that we both carried a soft spot for the other.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Oh my. Is it always the older ones? I had a neighbor who made the most incredible pecan pies. Oh man were they good. Then came the day right after she’d given one, when I had to go into her place to shut off the smoke alarm for her. I was hit by a blast of pee scent the moment she opened the door. The whole house had that aroma (and there were no cats). The pie (sadly, secretly) went into the trash. I still mourn it over a dozen years later. It was the pee-can pie now that I think about it!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Reminds me of the time a ‘client’ made us a cherry cheesecake. He was veteran. Cooked for thousands of service men while in the armed forces. Good cheesecake too. We had a service go in and do some cleaning for him. He had a bird, big white bird. Used to sit on his shoulder. He always told us he put the bird in the cage when he baked. House cleaner said she was there. He was baking. Something spilled on the table. Cook swiped it up with his finger. Ate it. She was pretty sure it was not cheese cake filling. As the bird sat perched upon his shoulder.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. At first I thought the pie would be something else – maybe Exlax laced.

    We once had a worker bring in Christmas cookies for the entire office – after she had spent days telling us how her cats ran and jumped wherever they wished (they were just *so cute*), including running across the kitchen counters. Sorry, I have issues with that.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: My Article Read (12-18-2014) | My Daily Musing

  11. I honestly don’t know what else to add here that hasn’t already been said. Being a nurse, I am a bit on the obsessive side with hand washing and cleanliness. IF I had seen that card, immediately chocolate or not, that homemade goodie would have been thrown out. How literally gross! Now I am trying to figure if this woman did it on purpose, or if she really didn’t understand hygiene. FYI …. I’m just about ready to eat breakfast and I am a bit green around the gills. Thanks, Doc!!! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  12. PS You want a GOOD laugh on me? Read my “Ho Ho Ho T’is The Season Of Joy” post and I guarantee, you will roar! I do some things that are just hysterical! This circumstance was a whopper!!! Merry Christmas with a Good Laugh Gift from me. Hehehehehehehehe Love, Amy

    Liked by 1 person

  13. After reading your lovely post I thought about it for a moment, maybe two, and then I promptly ate up all the goodies I had bought for anybody this year and now though I’m not really sure how they feel about it, I feel wonderful, as long as I don’t move, or think about moving, and I think I’d better stop typing now… thanks doc.

    Liked by 1 person

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