Friday, January 2, 2009

Playing the waiting game

Anyone who has been to a doctor knows an appointment is more of a guideline than an actual time you will see said practitioner.
Appointments are made so people can rest assured that eventually, they will get in to see their doctor and are not just hanging out in a public waiting area half the day for the fun of it.
I can appreciate how busy doctors are and I understand stuff happens and appointments get delayed, so my new goal is to have as much fun with the waiting process as possible.
The challenge is to have fun in the mind-numbing vacuum of boringness that is a waiting room.
I can remember when doctor’s offices used to have National Geographic, or some other cool magazines.
The last time I was waiting for a doc, the magazines were the most uninteresting pieces of glossy fluff I have ever seen.
The lets-visit-the-doctor routine goes pretty much the same way every time it happens.
I check in with the receptionist upon arrival – because the sign tells me to and if I don’t will be lost in the waiting room black hole forever, which I am convinced is what happened to Jimmy Hoffa. He’s probably still in a waiting room, reading the latest issue of Modern Unions and Mobsters because he did not check in with the receptionist.
So after I check in, I spend a couple of minutes looking around before seeking out some reading material that will help make the minutes fly by.
In one doctor’s office I was impressed to find the magazines actually had a protective plastic binder around them.
That makes sense. You wouldn’t want that vintage May, 1972 copy of Better Quilts and Pillows to get damaged. How else would you know what kind of throw pillow goes best with orange shag carpet?
Fine literature like that deserves to live for all eternity (and probably will in the waiting room.)
After spending 18-43 seconds looking over the magazines and realizing watching a fly crawl across the wall is more exciting, I begin to check out my fellow doctor seekers.
This is a more in depth scrutiny of my waiting room brethren than the cursory glance I give when I first arrive.
That initial check is an absolutely vital part of the waiting room experience. Remember, these people are here to see a doctor because they are ill, and that means the room is full of koodies (which I believe is an actual medical term.)
The initial glance when you first walk in will give you some idea of the people you do not want to sit beside. The lady with the tissue permanently welded to her nose is the first person to avoid.
As is the guy who is coughing to so much his face has turned so red it could guide Santa’s sleigh.
Once the room is surveyed and you have checked in with the receptionist person, it is time to select your seat based on your cursory examination of the room. This is a very important decision because that will be your seat for the next seven to 10 days, depending on how far behind the doctor is running.
Once a chair has been selected and having exhausted the thrilling and educational stack of magazines it is time to check out the crowd and play ‘What’s your ailment.’
Mucus girl and phlegm boy are easy to figure out, as is the kid with cast and the lady in the neck brace, but there are always a few people who look absolutely fine.
Those are the ones I decide to give an ailment of my choice to.
“Really. Wow, not many people contract malaria in the Okanagan.”
“Diphtheria. Now there’s a disease you don’t hear nearly enough about.”
I don’t even know what diphtheria is, and if it wasn’t for spell check I wouldn’t know how to spell it either, but being married to a nurse I hear about all sorts of nasty diseases that I can’t spell or pronounce and certainly do not want to contract.
During the wait, people come and go and every time the receptionist grabs a file you secretly hope it is your name being called so you can get out of the germ factory and on with your day. You know eventually your name will be called and when it is, it is like winning a mini lottery.
But, having your named called is a little misleading because all that happens is you leave the big waiting room and end up sitting in a smaller room that, without the doctor in it, is essentially another waiting room. But at least I know I am getting closer to my end goal so I cheerfully flip through the latest edition of Modern Squirrels and Muskrats while waiting those last few minutes for the doc.
For some reason that kind of wait seems limited to when I go to see the doctor.
When I go to the dentist, I am ushered into the chair of terror .04 seconds after walking in the front door.
I haven’t even taken my coat off before the receptionist starts dragging me into the room where people are going to stick sharp objects into my gums.
I don’t even know if my dentist has magazines because I am never in the waiting room long enough to read one.
I appreciate their efficiency, but when it comes to seeing a dentist I am an abject coward. I do not like going to the tooth doctor and I actually don’t mind waiting for a while, it gives me time to psych myself up.
It’s kind of a ‘Rah-rah, you can do it’ time.
The ‘What’s your ailment’ game cannot really be played at the dentist office anyway because I know what people are there for – their teeth.
The upside is, the sooner you get in, the sooner you get out, and when it comes to the dentist, getting out is all that matters.

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