Read Typical Reception
If you live in a warehouse, nobody respects your time because everybody assumes you lead a useless life. Many doctors—that is, their lickspittle secretaries—schedule a ridiculous number of needless appointments and unnecessary tests, clearly because the government is footing the bill, and they think warehouse residents have nothing better with which to occupy themselves anyway.
After Celia graced me with her keen insight, she high-tailed out of the office. She returned fifteen minutes later and ushered me into a hallway that led to a myriad of identical examination rooms. I followed her down the hall; she stopped and ordered me to wheel into one of them.
Ten more minutes passed and a guy I’d never seen whizzed through the door. He claimed to be one of three doctors “bouncing ideas off each other.” Dandruff dusted the shoulders of his ill-fitting polyester suit; his movements were clipped and awkward like those of a cokehead tweaking on topshelf product; he demonstrated the nervous habit of frequently scrunching his eyelids shut, then jerking them open. He asked me to recap the reason for my visit (I hoped surgery would render my thumb as close to opposable as possible.). But he interrupted me midway through my explanation with his version of what I’d meant to say—he obviously had an agenda.
Without physically examining my hand or even glancing at it, he concluded that I suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome. He elaborated: Carpal tunnel syndrome is a “very common” condition but before he could pronounce it the culprit—as if he hadn’t already—I would have to undergo a certain test. He shot out of the room, calling over his shoulder that he’d have Ceila schedule the test.
My doctor—or rather one of the three—had stacked the decks in his favor. His colleagues—it turned out one of his colleague’s students—a couple offices away, would administer a test designed to expose carpal tunnel syndrome.
At the counter, when I asked Celia about my appointment she huffed that she needed to tend to “important business” so I’d “just have to wait.” Ten minutes later, she rushed up and handed a business card with a date and time scribbled on it to me. She had scheduled the test for three weeks from then. I didn’t ask but Celia snottily informed me that I couldn’t make another appointment with any hand specialists until they’d received the results of the test.
It’s routine for one of the receptionists in a doctor’s office to phone for a cripplevan when a paratransit-using patient is finished with their business. I asked Celia when I could expect my ride. The lard-assed supervisor rolled her eyes, heavily sighed and claimed to be “in the middle of something important.” She advised me that she’d phone a cripplevan when she got the chance, and suggested I wheel into the waiting room and read a magazine. Cripplevans to and from doctor’s offices usually ran at least forty-five minutes behind schedule.