The first installment in the Dr. Larson series.
Most people are surprised that my cholesterol level is off the charts because I do not look like a high cholesterol person. I fit nicely into the insurance recommended weight charts, and other than the occasional bag of Cheetos, I eat fairly well. Did you know that if you wash down Cheetos with a glass of red wine, it cancels out the fat? It’s true. I think that has been medically proven by the doctors at Frito-Lay.
So after my annual exam recently, my doctor suggested that given my age and family history, I schedule an appointment with a cardiologist. So I made an appointment, arranged for a babysitter and then waited three months for my appointment.
When the big day arrived, I showed up at the doctor’s office thirty minutes early to fill out paper work, just as the scheduler had advised. The waiting room was packed and I was the only person there under 75. I waded in among the sea of white heads and did sort of a double Dutch jump rope move to make my way through the tangle of Hush Puppies, canes and walkers to the only seat that was left on the far side of the room. And really and truly, except for the fact that there were no talking animals, I felt as though I had landed in a Far Side cartoon.
I should say here that I really don’t mind going to a doctor appointment these days because I can usually count on a couple of hours to read magazines. With a very busy little boy underfoot, magazines and uninterrupted reading time are two luxuries I no longer have. The only magazines left were well-worn copies of Popular Mechanics and Consumer Reports. Yawn. No magazines, but at least I had time. As a former Girl Scout, I was prepared and had brought a brand new book that I had been looking forward to reading.
As I sat down and cracked open my book for the first time, that wonderful inky new-book smell rose up to greet my nose. Aaaah! Is there anything more seductive? I secretly hoped the doctor was running late so that I could make out with my book.
The elderly lady sitting to my right looked like Granny Clampett and had a big black purse that she had strapped over her head and across her shoulder like a safety patrol belt. It was resting in her lap and probably weighed as much as she did. She clutched it as though I or a sudden breeze might snatch it away. “Honey, do you have the time?” she asked pushing her glasses back into position on the bridge of her nose only to have them slide back down. When I told her, she said “Oh my. I’ve been here nearly two hours.” And that seemed to set off some sort of geriatric chain reaction. The guy sitting next to her, leaned forward on his cane and boomed in that voice that belied his ability to hear, “Two hours? You’re lucky! Why I’ve been here two hours and forty-five minutes. I’m going to miss Judge Judy!” Then the lady next to him said, “Well I can do ya one better than that And so it went all the way around the room until the person to my left said he had been there for six days, but then again, he thought FDR was still president. Nothing more fun than a game of competitive waiting.
I was half way through my book before I looked up again and noticed that I’d been waiting to see the doctor for two hours. I went to the window and asked the person behind the desk how much longer she thought it would be. “Not too much longer,” she said with a straight face. A large woman with short gray hair was sitting next to the reception window. She was wearing tinted glasses and was resting her clasped hands on her sizeable belly. She gave the impression that she could be formidable in a brick wall kind of way. She overheard my question and sniffed loudly in disbelief. I looked at her and she shook her head ever so slightly back and forth in a way that could only mean one thing: liar, liar, pants on fire. I looked back at the receptionist who shrugged her shoulders and slammed shut the window that separated her from what could potentially become an angry mob of Hush Puppies. I asked the brick wall lady if she thought it would be longer. She reported that she had never gotten in to see the doctor in less than three hours. Frankly, I wasn’t too disappointed since it meant that I might get to finish my book.
Two hours later I finished my book. I closed it shut and sighed. And then I held it in my lap patting it like a sleeping baby. I looked across the room to see the two tired magazines crumpled up in a potted plant. Had there been an incident and I missed it? I looked at my watch and did the math. I had been waiting for four hours. Now that I didn’t have a book to read, I began to feel sort of violated and outraged to have been kept waiting so long.
About that time, someone several seats down mentioned that they had been waiting two and a half hours. Someone else piped up that they had been waiting three hours. “That’s nothing,” I moaned, “I’ve been here four hours.” And so it went around the room.
I began to wonder if maybe these people were my age when they got here. Maybe I really was in a Far Side cartoon…
Visit Best of Antique Mommy for Episodes 2 and 3 in the Dr. Larson Series.