Thursday, August 25, 2016

Learning to be late

No magazines to spread germs.
No music to soothe or annoy.
No cell phone use allowed.
No clock to track the time.

Nothing to keep anxiety at bay.

The water cooler breaks the quiet, then silences itself.

I breathe, close my eyes, concentrate on calm, resist impulse to check my phone for the time.

I watch those who arrived before and after me disappear then reemerge.

I wait for a tardy friend just fifteen minutes.

How long do I wait for the doctor?

Conversations between patients and receptionists fill the silence, then drain away.

Doors open, others are called.
Doors open, others exit.

I fidget. The urge to pee grows.
But do I dare lock myself behind that solid door far across the room?

Surely I must be next.

A woman in wheel chair checks in, fills her paperwork, rolls off to see the doctor.

Almost thirty minutes since I checked in.
Did I get the time wrong?

I pace, carrying the sheet of paper from check-in.
Then I notice the appointment time:
Twenty minutes after what I’d written down six months ago.

And at that point I am called.
In their view, right on time.

But now my blood pressure is up.
I ask the reason for 20 minute difference between arrival and appointment.
We need you here early.

Well, yes, I’m always early.
But I didn’t hear suggested arrival time,
I heard this is your appointment time.

Next time, I’ll show up five minutes after that suggested arrival time.

Someone can wait for me for a change. I need to learn how to be late.

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