Thursday, August 09, 2012

{young people these days}

"where's that doctor? my appointment was supposed to be fifteen minutes ago. this is ridiculous." he glares at the styrofoam cup in his hands. his wife tips her head back so it's resting on the wall behind her and casts a similar face at the ceiling. inanimate objects really get the brunt of a lot of undue frustration, i've noticed.
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the phone rings.

i'm the youngest person in the room by about 50 years. i always am. not to sound rude or anything, but the kind of waiting rooms i frequent these days usually consist of me and a lot of really fat, really old people talking about their heart attacks. i never have anything to contribute on the subject, so i try to blend in with the cheesy plastic office plants and play solitaire on my cell phone.

the receptionist hangs up the phone, a little harder than necessary, and sighs the way you would if you were in a play and the director told you to over exaggerate everything. her eyelids are bright blue and she looks kind of like yzma, from the emperor's new groove. you can picture her talking the same way too, if you want. "the doctor is still at the hospital, so you're all going to be waiting a while. i'm sorry." i don't think she's sorry.

she looks at me and frowns. "you're really early, anyway." i glance at the clock. it's 11:20, and my appointment is scheduled for 11:30. i don't feel like 10 minutes is 'really early.' i smile and say nothing.

the fat old man in the corner is talking about young people these days. young people these days are so impatient and young people these days are so rude and young people these days are always in such a rush and where is that doctor anyway? ...been waiting for half an hour, and that's unacceptable. i quickly pan the circle with my eyes to see if anyone else is picking up on the irony of this tirade but i just see a lot of nodding grey heads and furrowed wrinkly brows. i hold my chuckles in.

we wait another half hour. i'm not anxious about it; i sat here for four hours last time and i'm completely prepared to spend the entire afternoon again. {the doctor is a heart specialist, and he often gets called to emergency in the middle of office hours.} the news is playing quietly on a tv in the corner and there is running commentary from around the room. this, i find fantastically amusing. the stories all seem to be about young people these days, which is perfect material for the gentleman in the corner to get worked up about.

i'm sitting on the floor now, between the magazine rack and the front desk, because the waiting room is so full.

a woman with a brooch and a cane catches the receptionist's eye. "how long now?" she asks.

the receptionist's eyebrows shoot up underneath her bangs as though this were a personal and deeply offensive question. her answer comes out in short, sharp bursts. "couldn't tell you. i have no idea. could be an hour. or more. i don't know." i think it's funny when receptionists, whose job it is to receive people and answer their questions, don't like people talking to them or asking them questions.

the woman with the brooch nods. she looks around the room at us and laughs. "my granddaughter is out in the car. she won't like this. she's so impatient. my friend offered me a ride here today and i told them, i said, 'no, i'll get my granddaughter to take me. but she'll be sulky about it.'" she holds a hand up to her mouth and stage whispers as though the granddaughter might hear. "and she is so sulky about it. she needs to learn patience."

the man with the styrofoam cup gives a short laugh at this. "young people these days," he says.

a woman across the room wants in on this. "i had my daughter drive me here today too, and she is probably just so upset out there. i've been here for an hour and a half and i had her wait in the car. she's probably wondering if i've slipped out the back!"

everyone laughs. i smile slightly at my solitaire game and move the seven of hearts to the eight of spades.

the woman with the brooch looks up suddenly, as one of those aforementioned young people these days enters the room and approaches her quietly. her hair is in a messy bun on top of her head and she's wearing scrub pants. her eyes are glassy and her voice is scratchy. "grandma, do you know how long you'll be?"

her grandmother smiles sweetly and says, "i don't know, dear. the lady says it could be more than an hour." the granddaughter nods and, seeing that there are no empty chairs in the waiting room, mumbles that she's going back to wait in the car. her grandmother waits until she is out the doors before saying to her captive audience, "you see? she is so sulky! she wants to go home and sleep. she worked the night shift last night and just got off work this morning. but this is good for her. she needs to learn patience."

at this point i happen to look up through the windows and spot the doctor come in through the glass doors. i'm thankful, because i'm tired of hearing about how horrible my generation is. i mean, we are pretty horrible, but so is every generation. probably because all of the generations are generally made up of human beings and stuff.

the doctor has stopped just inside the doors and is watching something on the tv in the adjoining waiting room. i'm irked. how is it that he's two hours late and is just standing there watching tv? doesn't he know that there is a room full of us waiting on him, growing more belligerent by the second, and that we can see him just standing there? i've got no problem with the emergency room thing, but tv? i know, i know. young people these days. i move my king to an empty space.



i make it into the examining room an hour later, and my appointment goes exactly like this:

"hello, miss. your test results are in; your condition has not changed. see you next year."