The Mysterious Malingerer–Part 1
"Hi, Clyde, what can I do for you?" Bennett Rutowski, the human resources manager asked.
"I'd like to request a medical leave. My doctor tells me I have a brain tumor and he wants to send me out of state to a hospital where he knows some specialists," Clyde said. "So I'm going to have to leave for a while and have the operation there. The doctor said I'll probably need to be off about eight to 10 weeks."
"I'm sorry to hear that, Clyde," Bennett said sincerely. "Where's the hospital located?"
"California," Clyde responded.
"How soon do you need to have this surgery?"
"Okay, I'll make arrangements for your leave. You, of course, understand that you'll have to deal directly with the insurance carrier to get approval for payment on the surgery," Bennett informed him.
"I've already begun the process," Clyde said.
Clyde had worked for the small processing plant as a supervisor for the past eight years. He was well liked and well respected. Bennett was concerned. He knew that Clyde was a widower, struggling to raise two teen-age boys.
"Who in your family will be there to help you?" Bennett asked.
"My sons will be coming along with me."
"Will you have one of them call me when you're out of surgery to let us know how you're doing? They can call collect," Bennett said.
The following week, Bennett got a call from one of Clyde's sons, Harry. Harry told Bennett that his dad was doing well and expected to return to work in two weeks.
"Two weeks! That's terrific!" Bennett exclaimed. "Can you tell me the name of the hospital and what room your dad's in? We'd like to send some flowers."
"I really don't know his room number," Harry said.
"Well, what's the name of the hospital?"
"Mount Sinai," Harry responded.
Bennett's assistant, Brian, called the hospital to get the information. Brian reported that the hospital had no record of Clyde as a patient. "I checked all over the hospital and probably spoke to nearly a dozen different departments. There is no record. I even called the person who schedules the surgery, and Clyde wasn't on the list." Brian said. "The billing department doesn't have him registered, either. Don't you think that's strange?"
"Sure do," Bennett remarked, tapping his pencil on his desk. "I sure do."
The next day, Clyde called the office. "Hi, Bennett," Clyde began. "My son told me you wanted to send flowers. That's real nice, but really–don't bother. I'm all right, you just can't call me because there's no phone in the room. And Harry couldn't tell you what room I'm in because they keep moving me. First I'm in recovery, then intensive care, then here."
Bennett's antennae began to rise. "But you are at Mt. Sinai, aren't you?"
"Oh, yeah. It's a great hospital," Clyde confirmed.
"Well, so how are you doing?"
"To be honest, they told me that the tumor's malignant and that I probably only have a year to live," Clyde said softly.
"Oh, Clyde, I'm really sorry. Is there anything I can do?" Bennett offered politely, despite his feeling that Clyde was scamming him.
"There's nothing you can really do. I just ask that you keep this confidential. I don't want anyone at the plant to know I'm dying," Clyde said gravely.
"Of course, I won't tell anyone. By the way, where are your boys staying?"
"They're at the Calastoga Motel in town," Clyde answered.
Bennett informed Brian of his latest discovery. Brian verified that the boys were indeed at the hotel, but Brian could not get a verification of Clyde's stay at the hospital.
A few days later, Clyde called Bennett again. "Just wanted to let you know, I'll be discharged tomorrow."
"Five days after brain surgery? That's amazing! By the way, how come you're not registered with the hospital?" Bennett asked.
"Oh, I worked something out with the doctor."
"Dr. Ozwald Sampson," Clyde said.
"Can I call the doctor?"
"What for?" asked Clyde.
"I'm concerned about you. I'd like to know what's happening," Bennett answered.
Subsequently, Bennett attempted to locate Dr. Sampson. There was no listing for the doctor in the telephone directory in the city where they were supposedly staying. There was also no Dr. Ozwald Sampson registered with a license to practice in the state of California.
Bennett grew concerned. He wanted to get to the bottom of things and began a quiet investigation among Clyde's co-workers and the staff in the plant.
About a week and a half after his surgery, Clyde showed up at the plant. He staggered into Bennett's office with his head wrapped in bandages. When Bennett saw him he said, "Are you okay? I hope you didn't drive."
"No, of course not. My son dropped me off, but he'll be back in a little bit. I wanted to talk to you and explain what's going on," said Clyde. "I just need to make sure you didn't tell anyone in the plant that I'm going to die. Also, I want to start back to work next week."
"Look, Clyde, we keep all employee medical information confidential, and I'm truly sorry about your condition. But before I can have you return to work, I need a medical release from your doctor."
"Why?" asked Clyde.
"Because that's our policy."
Clyde started to shift in his seat and looked uncomfortable. "What do you mean?"
"Well, obviously you're an incredible individual. You had brain surgery and a tumor removed. Then, in less than a week, you're discharged from the hospital and drive halfway across the country. Now you're back home and want to start work next week. That's a remarkable recovery. I assume that you've been referred to a surgeon here to follow up on your care."
"Yeah," Clyde affirmed.
"Fine, can you give me his name?"
"I've got it written down at home. I don't remember." Suddenly, Clyde behaved as though he were dizzy and having double vision. "I'll call you tomorrow and tell you."
Was Clyde scamming the company,? Cick here to find out.
Excerpted from Sex, Laws, & Stereotypes, by N. Elizabeth Fried, Ph.D.©