How should I have picked up my denist's receptionist?
November 15, 2006 9:22 AM   Subscribe

Just went to my dentist. The receptionist (f) was hot. It didn't seem right saying anything. How should I have handled this and can it be retrieved? ps - i'm shy!

I guess I'm especially aiming this at any female metafilterees. She probably had a boyfriend blah blah and I didn't want to make the situation difficult given that it was her professional environment, but I won't be going back for a year. How's this situation best aproached in general?
posted by tomw to Human Relations (42 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
you're a bear with claws. she's just a bunny. you're trying to kill the bunny but you have a no idea how. you have huge claws and teeth d00d. just do it.

worse she can do is belittle your manhood, make fun of you to all her friends, make you a laughing stock to everyone in the reception area, and give you a strange nickename that will become a new internet meme.

but, really, what are you really asking here? Are you trying to ask her out, chat her up, befriend her, smooze your way into some free dentistry samples, what?
posted by Stynxno at 9:31 AM on November 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Argh. don't hide the question in the title.

Okay, so you want to hit on a girl while she's working. Note that she might be busy and might get hit on several times during the day. You don't want to be the creepy guy or the guy who is asked to never come back to that dentist office again. So, simply, make a joke, get her to laugh a bit, make her few minutes spent giving you forms to fill out seem like the best part of her day. Don't over do it, don't seem desperate, act relaxed and normal. Basically, don't be shy. And treat her as a human being with some respect.

You know things went well if, when you leave the office, she makes a funny and slightly flirty comment when you leave.

Then, a few days later (make it an odd number of days - 8 days, 11 days, whatever), come back to the office or call up the dentist and make up some lame excuse to get into the office again (want to try a different kind of floss, teeth feel more sensitive then normal, etc). If she remembers you and your banter goes well again, ask her out as you leave. If she says no or gets embarrassed, you're not going to see her for another year anyways so no harm, no foul.
posted by Stynxno at 9:37 AM on November 15, 2006

bears and bunnies aside, Stynxno's answer makes sense, d00d
posted by matteo at 9:49 AM on November 15, 2006

If you're a flower-sending type, send flowers to her at the office. Note along the lines of "You made my day" (insert corny puns on smiling and dentistry here, if you're a corny-pun type). Call her later in that day (or stop by if that's most comfortable). Or include your number on the card, if you're totally shy. Assume that nothing will come of it, but feel better knowing you've tried.
posted by occhiblu at 9:55 AM on November 15, 2006

Ugh. Flowers is a little overboard.

Just like with training an animal, you want to give them a comfortable, logical path that just happens to lead towards going out with you. Styx's answer will help you with that. Flowers? Flowers does the same thing as smacking the shit out of a little bunny for no reason at all. She doesn't know why she got the flowers. Unless she's got loads of self confidence and a huge ego, it's quite possible that she could have a panicked, embarrased reaction ... to which her only possible mental reaction will be to forget about them, you, etc. as quickly as possible.
posted by SpecialK at 10:03 AM on November 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Oh my God, don't. Unless you're, oh I don't know, Hugh Grant this won't work. Receptionists get hit on all the time. It is unbelievable how smooth most guys think they are. Or how they are trying to hide their intentions. They're perky and nice because that is their job. Sorry she might as well be married. Or gay. Off limits. That's like hitting on a bartender at a frat bar. Don't ruin her day. Someone will come by to counter me but I have, with my own eyes, seen a receptionist get hit on multiple times a day. Sometimes smooth. Most of the times not. Always inappropriate and we make fun of it later.
posted by geoff. at 10:04 AM on November 15, 2006

Yeah I second Geoff. Even if you break the ice with her, its mostly because its her job; but seriously you're money and you don't even know it.
posted by dobie at 10:13 AM on November 15, 2006

Dentist visits are generally recommended every six months aren't they? That's halved your waiting time in a stroke.
posted by biffa at 10:16 AM on November 15, 2006

Flowers = no.

Bear in mind that if the dentist is really hot, it's guaranteed that men will hit on her all day. So being hit on, for her, will probably be a fairly boring (perhaps even insulting) experience.

Your main chance in that scenario will be to do the opposite that everyone else does. Be funny, be witty and don't try and hit on her at all. In fact maybe tease her a little, provided you can do so in a relevant and funny fashion.

As for the rest, Stynxno seems to have it down perfectly.
posted by skylar at 10:20 AM on November 15, 2006

Stynxno's advice is good - but it requires being ballsy and having no fear of rejection.

More importantly, I should second the notion that receptionists, waitresses, bartenders, etc. are being nice and friendly to you because it's their job to do so. Don't mistake their friendly demeanor for personal interest.
posted by gnutron at 10:23 AM on November 15, 2006

Jesus..FLOWERS??? Hello...she's like a hot waitress - she gets hit on all day long by every guy that comes to the office. There's is nothing you are going to do that hasn't been tried before by someone less shy than you. Forget about it, it is not going to happen. The best you can do is just treat her like a person try to be a little jokey with her when you are there. If she likes it, she'll do the work. Otherwise... FORGET. ABOUT. IT. There are hot girls everywhere - try talking to one at a bar or a party.
posted by spicynuts at 10:25 AM on November 15, 2006

Look her in the eye and give her your best smile. If she smiles back then walk over and compliment her. If she responds positively then extend your hand and introduce yourself. Shake her hand, make some small talk about the weather etc. Then take it personal; talk about your family and then ask her about her family. This achieves two things: one, you find out if she's married and has kids and two, it gives her the false impression that you're a 'family' guy. At this point stop bothering her and walk away and read a magazine.

In a few days call the office and chat with her for a bit. In the middle of the conversation, just as it's peaking, interrupt her and tell her you're in a hurry and you need to speak to the dentist.

A few weeks later stop by the office and drop off holiday cards and gifts for the office staff. Give her a card, a peck on the cheek, flirt with her. Ask about her holiday plans, her feelings about the holidays and her favorite holiday. Give her the impression that you actually give her a damn about her as a person.

After a few such friendly contacts call her up and ask her out. Don't do it in person unless she's given you some definite positive feedback. If she says no then apologize for being too forward and agree that being friends is for the best. If she says yes and she's really hot then know that you've got competition. You're not her only option. At this point a timer has begun and you have a set amount of time to convince her you're even remotely interesting and worth her continued parts and labor. So ramp up the intimacy fast. On the first date invite her to your apartment for dinner or go for a really cozy place to eat. More than likely you'll both move on and you'll be one of the dozens guys she dates that year and but now you'll have to keep sending holiday cards to the damn dentist for the rest of your life since missing a year would be rude or an indicator of dissatisfaction.

The point: unless you're actually really smooth -- and the fact that you ask this question suggests you're not -- picking up a receptionist in a single meeting is impossible. This isn't a matter of training or effort. You can't run the six minute mile no matter how hard you try. It's like that. Your only hope is to build up a friendly relationship over time and hope it gets somewhere.
posted by nixerman at 10:51 AM on November 15, 2006

The issue is that he's got absolutely no reason to see this woman again for months. Calling the office, dropping by... these are all going to be totally transparent, because he has no reason to do any of these things. May as well make a grand gesture and declare one's intentions than play these sorts of weird games that are likely going to leave a shy guy feeling awkward and weird.
posted by occhiblu at 11:15 AM on November 15, 2006

And I would think that getting flowers or some other possibly one-off thing is going to be less annoying, if she's not interested, than having a guy hanging around for no reason giving her puppy-dog eyes.

But I'm also old enough that the "Stating your intentions clearly" has become a hell of a lot sexier than "Play games that waste time until you get enough balls to go for it," so.... you know, YMMV.
posted by occhiblu at 11:19 AM on November 15, 2006

Here's a wild idea. Try to figure out if the two of you have anything in common other than her hotness before asking her anything.
posted by ewkpates at 11:20 AM on November 15, 2006 [3 favorites]

Give her a card, a peck on the cheek, . . .

No. You know, she might be just as shy as you are and any really forward attempts might freak her out/scare her/make her really uncomfortable. Just be nice to her. It's a tricky situation for sure. But do remember she is working - don't interfere with that.

OR! This idea just hit me - make an appointment but show up super super early for it. When you "realize" your mistake, say you're going to grab a milkshake/soda, whatever and ask her if you can bring anything back for her. Does that work? It might break the ice and it includes a nice gesture on your part.
posted by Sassyfras at 11:23 AM on November 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'd ask her out. Simple as that. Not much else to do. Probably you are going to get shot down. Doesn't mean you shouldn't try.

Something simple like--I want to take you to dinner. I don't ever do this--but you are the exception. Look her in they eyes while saying this but don't be too creepy. When she answers, look into her eyes while she says it. Could work.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:24 AM on November 15, 2006

Occhiblu, Since when is flirting the same thing as playing games?

Go back for some fake reason, flirt a bit, and if she flirts back, ask her if she wants to go for a drink sometime.

Keep in mind: whether she gets hit on all the time or not, non-creepy/aggressive flirting is flattering. Just be sensitive to the fact that you should only keep flirting if she responds in kind. She doesn't respond, you take a seat and an old Newsweek, and wait for the dentist to see you.
posted by Kololo at 11:28 AM on November 15, 2006

Are dentists easy to come by in your area? Because I tell you, I have a great dentist. Sets you at ease, explains what's going on, does a great job, doesn't mind saying "That doesn't need attention right now" instead of making an extra buck, plays the insurance company's game well. Nice guy all around.

The reason I mention this is because if I hit on his receptionist and got shot down I'd feel pretty dumb showing up there every six months for the next decade or three, and I'd rather keep the great dentist than chance maybe dating someone who I don't know at all except that she's kinda hot.

My rule for attractive waitresses, bartenders, receptionists (or, at least, my rule before I got married): If you have only run into them at their job, treat it as if you've never run into them. Hitting on a service worker is worse than hitting on a random person on the street because she can't tell you to sod off.
posted by mendel at 12:34 PM on November 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

(That said I really like Sassyfras and ewkpates' suggestions.)
posted by mendel at 12:36 PM on November 15, 2006

Flirting is not playing games, but continually making up excuses to visit the dentist seems just so totally borderline that it quickly becomes ridiculous. If she worked in a coffeeshop or something my answer would be totally different, but there's just not a smooth, casual way to keep visiting one's dentist, unless one wants to knock out one's teeth on a regular basis.
posted by occhiblu at 12:45 PM on November 15, 2006

i know what I'm saying ballsy but since, like occhiblu points out, you're not going to see this girl often, you need to take a chance. Put your neck out - and, because you're not going to see her often, you have a better chance at surviving any personal problems with being shy. Rejection sucks but since you won't see this person often, getting rejected by her and not seeing her for a year will help in dealing with any personal reprecussions for your attempt.

also, as a rider, if there's a hot dental hygenist, eat an entire box of oreos while in the waiting room before your appointment. /steven wright
posted by Stynxno at 12:56 PM on November 15, 2006

Before your next appointment, eat an entire box of oreos before you go in. Maybe they'll even cancel the rest of the day's appointments.

...not mine...
posted by vito90 at 1:01 PM on November 15, 2006

I used to manage a dental office (and got hit on a bit in that capacity and am happily involved, so no one ever had a chance).

Do not try for a peck on the cheek. Do not waste anyone's time with fake reasons to be at the office, she'll see through it and likely think you pretty lame for it.

Do send a card and a simple flower arrangement if you've noticed that there is a place for it on her desk. If there isn't room it will end up in the lounge or in the doc's office, which would suck.

Super seconding the finding out if you have anything in common at all with the receptionist. You can accomplish this by calling the office and asking to have the doc call you back. The doc can also tell you if she's involved with anyone before you make an ass of yourself. But beware, the doc might also tell her - and has the potential to tease her about it. So maybe have the hygienist call you - you can say "We discussed my home care (brushing and flossing) and I had some follow-up questions. It's not emergency but I'd like to be sure I'm clear on some things." Beware, the hygienist may hate the receptionist and not pass on the interest/be honest with you, also, see above regarding teasing.

See, receptionists are real people. All the same obstacles as any woman you meet anywhere.
posted by bilabial at 1:07 PM on November 15, 2006

Reason to come back: "I think I forgot something here at my last visit." Pause for the inevitable "what?" and then do a simple, "I meant to ask you something - would you like to meet for coffee/dimsum/sushi sometime?"
posted by plinth at 1:08 PM on November 15, 2006

oh damn, at least we both had the good sense to give credit where it was due
posted by vito90 at 1:12 PM on November 15, 2006

About 17 years ago, when I first moved to Atlanta, I knew no one socially, and had a crown come off on Friday afternoon in New Jersey, just before I got on a flight back to Atlanta. So, Saturday morning, I called around to a few places from the Yellow Pages, found no practice open that could help me that day, and had resigned myself to waiting a week or two for an appointment. Went out to do some errands, and drove by a strip mall, where, out front, a woman was directing some sign riggers putting up the letters "DENTIST" over one of the storefronts. I took it as a Sign, and turned in.

Yes, it was a new practice. Yes, she was the receptionist, and yes, they were open. Yes, they could probably help me, if I could wait a few minutes. So, I went back to my apartment, got my crown, and rushed back. I went in, filled out some forms, and chatted with the woman as I did so. She was an older woman, with a wonderful soft Southern accent, and an animated face, and she was put together impeccably. In the 10 minutes it took to fill out the forms, I offered that I was new to Atlanta, and she offered some recommendations for area businesses and restaurants nearby, and I thought immediately about asking her out, but then it was time to see the dentist, so I made a mental note to follow up with her on her recommendations later, and went in.

The dentist was young, just out of UGA dental school, and I was patient #012. But it was fine, and he was good, if a little nervous. Well, there was some decay, that had caused the old crown to come off, and so a couple of visits were needed to develop the new crown, etc. So, I went back for a couple of appointments, and got to know the woman a bit better, and she was still friendly and animated, and I'd got a feeling that she'd be amenable to being asked out to a restaurant she'd recommended for lunch sometime, and had resolved to do so, on my last appointment for fitting the new crown. Then, when I got there for that appointment, I overheard a temporary hygenist in the office asking her how she was getting along, working for her son.

You see, that's thing about plunging ahead blindly with people in professional settings. You never know when you're liable to make a fool of yourself with the dentist's Mom, or sister, or sister in law, etc.

Better to keep your mouth shut, bucko.
posted by paulsc at 1:18 PM on November 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Do send a card and a simple flower arrangement if you've noticed that there is a place for it on her desk.

Really? I was a receptionist once and if someone I didn't know (the only real contact being to tell that person to have a seat, the attorney will be right with you) sent me flowers and a card I'd be really weirded out.

I could understand flowers and a card if she'd done something extra - like paulsc's receptionist suggesting places in the area, etc.

posted by Sassyfras at 1:37 PM on November 15, 2006

Another "no" vote for the flowers. If someone I encountered briefly in the course of just doing my damn job sent me flowers, I wouldn't be flattered or charmed, I'd be skeeved out. (Okay, unless it was Clive Owen. But only then.)

When you go back (and yeah, shouldn't it be six months instead of a year?), smile and -- if she's not busy -- chat a little. Ask a question, make a joke. If there's a clear mutual spark, then maybe ask (casually and politely) if she'd like to grab a cup of coffee sometime -- and then, only if you can A) be prepared for "no" (attractive receptionists/waitresses/etc. get asked out a lot, and it's generally tiresome) and B) still be pleasant to her the next time you come back.
posted by scody at 1:54 PM on November 15, 2006

previously similarly
posted by -harlequin- at 3:01 PM on November 15, 2006

Flowers is a complete no. I think the answer here is getting used to being rejected and then just getting on with it. Perhaps I should have waited a couple of hours before posting! Good to seem some difference of opinion though... there is no right or wrong answer.


posted by tomw at 3:14 PM on November 15, 2006

OK, here's an idea if she handles the billing and paperwork too. Go to the dentist. Pay by check. Write your phone number on the check. Hand it to her with a shy smile and say, "I don't mean to make you uncomfortable and this might seem weird since you work here but if it would be cool with you, I'd love ito have a drink sometime. If not, no problem. My number's on the check."
posted by thinkpiece at 3:38 PM on November 15, 2006

Phone number on the check? No, no, no, no. Might as well put your number on a piece of paper, rip it up, and throw it away. She ain't gonna call.

The point: unless you're actually really smooth -- and the fact that you ask this question suggests you're not -- picking up a receptionist in a single meeting is impossible. This isn't a matter of training or effort. You can't run the six minute mile no matter how hard you try. It's like that. Your only hope is to build up a friendly relationship over time and hope it gets somewhere.

This is right.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:32 PM on November 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

I pooh-pooh these naysayers. She may have thought you were hot too and felt disappointed that you didn't ask her out. I say call her at the office and and ask her out. What have you got to lose?
posted by dudiggy at 5:03 PM on November 15, 2006

If you are a baseball fan, you will recognize dudiggy's advice as "playing the percentages."

Percentage chance of getting a date if you do nothing=0%.

Percentage chance if you do anything, even the most stupid, wierd, skeevy thing= > 0%.

Don't do nothing.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:18 PM on November 15, 2006

Ask her out if you want to, but keep it simple. If she gets it all the time, then it'll be easy for her to turn you down and everyone can move on. The flowers, oming back, talking to other people in the office etc will probably just freak her out.
posted by Orrorin at 5:28 PM on November 15, 2006

What have you got to lose?

The same thing you've got to lose by asking random people on the street for money: your self-respect.
posted by bingo at 7:25 PM on November 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

I don't know why people are making such a big deal about this. People meet in all sorts of ways, why is it so wrong for someone to ask out the receptionist/waitress/etc., as long as it is a sincere attempt to get to know the person and not some sleazy "wanna see how your uniform looks on my floor" type of request.

Find out if they have something in common before asking her out? Isn't that what a first date is for?

I think you should make an appointment for a consultation about some sort of voluntary dental service (like tooth whitening). Perhaps call and say "Hi Jane (if you know her name), this is Tom W, I was just in there the other day. I forgot to ask the dentist about tooth whitening, do I need to set up another appointment to speak with Dr. Jones about it or does he have any brochures about the process?" If she suggests you make an appointment for a consultation, do so. If she tells you the doctor does have brochures about it, tell her you're often in the area and you'll pick them up. Either way, you have another excuse to go back to the dentist and speak to her. Try to make small talk about movies, books, music, whatever will allow for a follow-up.

If you are still interested, call her back the day after you go in for the consultation or to pick up papers and say "Hi Jane, this is Tom W, I was just in there yesterday. We were talking about [insert interest], and I was wondering if you'd like to [insert activity related to interest] with me?"

If she is interested she'll say yes. If she is married/in relationship, she'll let you know. If she is not interested, she'll probably just tell you she is in a relationship.
posted by necessitas at 8:21 PM on November 15, 2006

Proper etiquette is that it's the woman's perogative whether she wishes to shake hands and it's rude for the guy to extend his if she hasn't done so first. Common courtesy says we have to take it and not say anything.

Make small talk: weather, news, movies, tv, the dentist's fish tank if he has one....If she's acting like she's interested in you, keep it very light and ask her if she'd like to have coffee.
posted by brujita at 9:53 PM on November 15, 2006

Hitting on a service worker is worse than hitting on a random person on the street because she can't tell you to sod off.

Yes. Remember, this woman is being paid to be nice to you. She's *working*. Some guys think women are interested in them when in reality the women are just giving good customer service. I can't speak for her, but I really hate being hit on while I'm trying to do my job.

If you must, you could maybe ask her out by phone. "Hi, I'm tomw? I was in yesterday with the infected crown? I was wondering if you wanted to go for coffee." This is a lot nicer than hitting on her in person, when she has nowehere to hide because she is trapped behind a desk.
posted by Violet Hour at 10:46 PM on November 15, 2006

Violet Hour's got it. If you ask her out by phone, that offers her an out if she's uncomfortable with the situation.
posted by jennyjenny at 8:44 AM on November 16, 2006

I hate being "hit on" at work.
But ...
My cousin was a receptionist. Nice guy came in, they chatted, he left. He came back in about 10 minutes later and said, "I'm sorry. I had to come back because I won't be able to forgive myself if I don't ask if you will go out to dinner with me."
They've been married 10 years now, have a beautiful child. I think it was his honesty that did it -- no smooth line, nothing too thought out, just his gut feeling. That's the difference between being "hit on" and being asked out.
What Violet Hour said sounds like a great way to go.
posted by Jaie at 2:59 PM on November 16, 2006

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