The Waiting Game
That time of the year has come again. Time to get my annual physical exam with my doctor. If I didn’t care about remaining healthy, I wouldn’t even bother. But I do, so I drag myself out of my bed, shower, and leave my dorm room dreading the long wait that’s before me. I walk into the Family Practice Center and the receptionist hands me a pencil and a clipboard and asks me to fill out the same little white form (the size of a half sheet of paper) that I fill out every time I come there. As usual, I write my name (last name first), date of birth, phone number, emergency contact person, name of insurance company and policy holder name without thinking. Next, I hand the receptionist my blue clinic card with most of the aforementioned information on it. Finally, I sign the sign-in sheet on the desk where the receptionist is sitting and fill out my appointment time and my arrival time. Recording these times is pointless because I’m in for a long wait. I return the clipboard, pencil, adn the white half sheet of paper to the receptionist and she tells me to have a seat. “The doctor will be with you shortly,” she says as if she doesn’t even believe what she just said.
“Yeah right,” is what I mumble underneath my breath.
My appointment is for 9:30 a.m. and it’s 9:15 a.m. I arrived the fifteen minutes before my appointment time which is when the office wants its patients to arrive. But that doesn’t matter either because, as I said before, I’m in for a long wait. It’s now 10:00 a.m. and I still haven’t been called by the nurse to enter the examining room. Thirty minutes behind schedule isn’t too bad, I guess. My next class begins at 11:30 a.m. I should be able to make it if I get called within the next few minutes. As I sit impatiently, I wonder if I should just reschedule my appointment. No, I can’t do that because the next appointment won’t be available for three months. Please call me soon because it’s hot and crowded in this waiting room and the music over the intercom is driving me crazy. If I hear “smooth jazz” one more time I think I might explode! Everyone looks angrily at the nurse as she calls another name that isn’t theirs.
“Ms. Clark, come with me please.”
It’s now 10:30 a.m.
“Mr. Phillips, come with me please.”
Now I’m getting really frustrated and hungrier by the minute. I purposely didn’t eat just in case my doctor wants to take some blood. What could my doctor be doing behind that big, black, steel door that separates the examining rooms from those of us waiting in the waiting room?
“This is ridiculous,” says one woman. Everyone, including me, looks at her and seems to agree. From the looks on our faces anyone could see that we feel as if we’ve been waiting for what seems to be eternity.
Finally, “Ms. Davis, come with me please,” says the nurse.
It’s now 11:15 a.m. I follow the nurse into an examination room where she takes my vitals and hands me a gown.
“The doctor will be with you soon,” she says.
Five minutes after changing into my gown my doctor bursts into the room in a hurry.
“Hi, Ms. Davis. I see you are here for your annual check-up. Hop on the table and let’s get started.”
No apology, no nothing. How could she be so irresponsible with her time? She sees the angry look on my face but she quickly looks away and continues to examine me as if nothing is wrong. How could she just ignore me? How could she be so insensitive? I wonder if I should tell her how I’m feeling? Forget it. I just want to get out of here as soon as possible and never come back. She then runs through a list of questions on a form in my chart about my general health. All of my answers are “no,” which makes my visit even shorter. Thank goodness. I’ve already been here long enough.
“Any questions?” she asks in a polite but hurrying voice as she completes her exam.
“Okay, well here’s your prescription. Have a good day.”
She then rushes out of the room. I get dressed and I then walk through the waiting room in order to exit the building. The room is filled with a different set of angry and impatient people from those who were there with me hours ago.
As I exit, I hear the receptionist tell another person, “The doctor will be with you soon.”
All I could do is feel relief in knowing that my long wait was over.