Thursday, October 7, 2010

day by day

Okay, so yesterday I was sitting in the waiting room of a doctor's office. There were a few other people — three men and a woman — each seated in a plain brown armchair, some thumbing through magazines, one reading a newspaper. I was the only person in the room who was under the age of seventy. One man and the woman were having an inane and pointless conversation about the availability of Phillies playoff tickets. Each offered incorrect information to the other about how they understood tickets to have been distributed. I was about twenty minutes early for my appointment, so I knew my name would not be called any time soon.

Suddenly, the door creaked open and another potential patient joined us in the waiting room. This man, a hulking figure with a shaved head, dark and weathered sport coat and ragged Dockers, lumbered to the reception area, his heavy shoes crushing the carpet with each step. To confirm his appointment, he announced his name to the woman at the desk. Silently, she scanned the appointment sheet. She gave it the once-over again. She studied it a third time, this time she used her extended index finger as a guide, running it over each and every entry on the sheet. She glanced up at the man.

"Are you sure your appointment is today?," she asked.

"Uh, I think so," he answered, shrugging his slumping, though massive, shoulders.

She scrutinized the list again, this time more slowly and meticulously than her three previous attempts. She briefly conferred with another younger woman in hospital scrubs seated at another desk.

"Could your appointment have been yesterday?," she asked.

"I dunno. I thought it was today., " the man muttered, the words slurring together, barely intelligible.

The receptionist politely offered a solution. "I can make an appointment for you right now, if you like. Maybe for later this afternoon. Would that be okay?"

"That'll be alright," he accepted.

The young woman in scrubs interrupted. "Here it is!," she said. She directed her speech to the man.

"Tomorrow!," she said, "Your appointment is this time tomorrow!"

"Okay," he said, "I'll come back tomorrow." He turned and headed towards the exit, almost knocking over a frail older man who had entered during this exchange.

My name was called and I was directed out of the Twilight Zone and into the first consultation room on the left.

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