I like small towns as much as the next person. There is something about a small town that is familiar and comforting and good. There is camaraderie among the residents that you just don’t find in larger cities. Everyone smiles and waves when they pass you on the street and you are more often than not greeted with a “Hey! Hower you?” when you walk through a door. This since of kindred spirit makes living in a small town seem safe and secure. Then there are the times that those things put you right over the edge. Case in point: the doctor’s office waiting room.
There is something about the doctor’s office waiting room that just seems to bring out the Mayberry in people. I’m not sure what it is, but if I could figure out how to stop it, I certainly would. I, personally, subscribe to the “don’t ask don’t tell” philosophy when I go to the doctor. This policy has worked superbly for years in the military, and one would think it would catch on in the doctor’s office. I stroll in a few minutes early, grab the spring 1988 issue of Gold Digest and sit down and read about Arnold Palmer’s latest golf course, Craft Farms. Those around me, however, simply chat.
In the course of thirty minutes, you will learn why each person seated around you is there, how their children or momma is and what they are thinking about having for lunch. There is always one overly loud guy who knows the name of 60% of the people that walk through the door and he never actually leaves the waiting room because he “ain’t here fer an appointment myself, I just carried Momma down fer her blood werk. You know we have to come onced a munth.”
The token church secretary, usually named Bobbie or Angie, is in her mid fifties, wants to know where everybody else goes to church and is usually growing out her hair. She won’t politely ask, “You look so familiar, do I know you?” Instead, she will simply inquire, “Now what’s your name?” She knows your next door neighbor or at the least someone on your street, and thinks that floral prints are just so classic. “They just don’t ever go out of style.”
It is mandatory that the elderly black woman have on orthopedic socks that are rolled down around her ankles, a simple classic walker with or without tennis balls and at least two of her multiple grandchildren or great grandchildren that she keeps during the day present with her. One of which will be a small boy that will lay with his upper body under her chair and try repeatedly to kick his sister or cousin who is seated two chairs away. After a few kicks, the girl will get tired of this and will announce to her adversary, “You better stop that kickin’ me, LaShon, or I’m gonna tell Big Momma to wear you out!” Big Momma pays them no mind. She is busy rocking ever so softly to the gravel like sounds of her own humming.
Cue the background music. As a preacher’s kid, I like praise and worship music just fine, but why is it that the praise and worship music at the doctor’s office always seems to be sung by the Greater Soprano ADHD Choir? If you don’t have a headache when you go in, you most certainly will before you leave. And speaking of getting sick at the doctor’s office; is there a rule that all waiting rooms must be set to a temperature that rivals the frozen tundra of Green Bay? If the sound of the background music doesn’t drive you to drink, the sound of your teeth chattering will.
You could ask someone to adjust the thermostat, but that would be a challenge in and of its self. Speaking to a staff member in the doctor’s office waiting room is a simple, yet long process. First, you approach the check-in window. Here you will find signs that politely let you know that effective October 15, 1996, your co-pay is due at the time the service is rendered, if you are a walk-in you will be assisted as soon as possible; please do not ask how long it will take and that you please be patient with them as God isn’t finished with them yet. Next, you gently knock on the window that will begin to vibrate loudly and sound as if it is about to fall out. The receptionist behind the glass is usually turned with her back to you and will typically be speaking to the medical records clerk seated on the other side of the room. She will not turn around or acknowledge you upon the first knock. Surely you are a priority, but she must finish telling her coworker that “Trevor got his ball pants all torn up again last night. I tell you, if that summabitch daddy of his would teach that yungin howda slide, I wouldn’t have to keep buyin’ new pants.” If you will stand patiently and allow her to finish, you may then knock again and Wanda (the receptionist is usually named Wanda or June or any other of the eight names that made the list of Top Ten Most Popular Names for Girls in 1953) will look over her shoulder, jerk her chair around, crack the window about two centimeters and ask, “Whachew need, Baby?”
Enter the drug rep. The pharmaceutical salesperson is normally a tall, sleek metro-sexual Adonis with a quick and easy stride, a well cut black suit with a tie that provides a pop of color and a rolling suitcase that looks like the ones the Delta flight attendants use. Immediately, every person on the clerical and nursing staff is available and ready to chat. It’s as if one person’s job is to sit in the back watching the security camera monitor waiting for the first sign of his Buick as it pulls in to the parking lot. He will wheel his bag over to the crowd, flash his pearly whites and announce “I brought you ladies some more of those M&M cookies you seem to like so much. You girls work so hard, you really should take a break and have one now!” For a moment the sound of Big Momma’s humming is drowned out by the giggles and squeals of six to eight middle aged women acting like girls at a slumber party.
If you’re really lucky, you get Adonis’ female counterpart. The female pharmaceutical salesperson is also dressed in a crisp, black suit; only the tailored pants are replaced with a small headband used as a skirt. Her lean, golden legs are rivaled only by her gigantic boobs and if you stopped loathing her long enough to have a five minute conversation with her, you would inevitably discover that she is a former Miss Florida.
Thirty-five minutes goes by, then fifty. Before you know it Big Momma is gone and Wanda is droning on about the cookies with a shrill laugh here and there. And just when you think Billy Bob has conjured a coughing spell that will indeed propel his left lung on to the floor before you, the interior door opens and the nurse says, “Miss Kirkland? You can come on back.”