Read Part 4
By my next appointment twelve weeks later, I’d managed to skip the warehouse and move into my own apartment. I checked in with the receptionist, a young woman different than the movie-magazine toady. She asked if anyone had brought me. I glanced behind myself—of course there wasn’t anybody there—turned back and politely answered, “No. I came by myself.” Then she cooed that the dentist would see me shortly, I should take a seat in the waiting room. She pointed to the chairs in full view a few feet away. I’d just spent literally years enduring dumbed-down baby talk spewed at me by clueless emotional retards; at that time I was discovering that mostly clueless emotional retards populated the outside. I had given Special Needs Dentistry a more than fair chance, and the people involved had proven themselves chronic fuck-ups. Something had to give.
I wheeled the few feet into the waiting room and parked in front of a stationary chair. Though there were no other patients, the TV positioned on a wall mount blared. Less than a minute later the receptionist scurried in and stopped in front of me.
Clearly bewildered, she surveyed the room before directly addressing me: “Are we sure we came alone?”
Exasperated, I curtly responded by asking, “Do you see anybody else here?”
She again glanced around the room: “Well no, but somebody usually brings people like you.”
I couldn’t help but raise my voice: “What the fuck do you mean, ‘people like me’?”
She wagged her extended index finger while scolding me: “Don’t talk to me that way!” (I find lackeys that speak down to me and then demand respect amusing, though nonetheless pathetic and irritating.)
I figured I’d rode out enough self-important prattling and spat: “You can kiss my ass!”
After a brief stunned silence in which she hovered on the verge of tears, she threatened me: “Well! If you’re going to talk to me like that, I’ll make sure you can’t ever see your dentist again!”
“Bullshit,” I countered. “By the way, who’d you have to boink to get this job?”
She stormed out of the waiting room. Immediately after she’d gone, a boy and his parents walked into the office and sat down.
Many people accuse me of having a chip on my shoulder. The fact is, while occasionally strangers harbor genuinely good intentions, wheelchair users can almost always spot a condescending asshole—I get lots of practice—though the condescension may not be apparent to others. It’s like a seasoned auto mechanic who can diagnose an engine by merely listening to it, while the owner of the vehicle remains oblivious.
“She was just doing her job” is not an acceptable explanation for the receptionist’s behavior. There’s a difference between a reason and an excuse: A reason is the unavoidable circumstance externally imposed by cause and affect; an excuse is just a self-serving rationalization. When people whine that they were “just doing [their] job,” they’re shirking personal responsibility by offering a cowardly excuse.
To be fair, the receptionists at Special Needs Dentistry routinely deal with mentally disabled patients and likely operate on autopilot. But if a person possesses a reasonable amount of intelligence and considers my blanket demeanor, they quickly realize that I’m in control of my mental facilities. And anyway, the public aid stooge shouldn’t have sent me there in the first place.
About two minutes later, the receptionist whizzed past me on her way to the front door. She made an obvious effort to avoid acknowledging my presence.
Then, roughly five minutes after that, the naïve intern appeared and asked me to follow her down the hall. She stopped in front of her examination room, seemed embarrassed and stared at the carpet as she began:
“I didn’t want to say anything in front of anybody.” She raised her head. “But you really upset my receptionist, to say the least. I won’t see you until you’ve calmed down. Go make an appointment with the other receptionist.” I didn’t say anything, turned and wheeled past the reception window, through the waiting room and out the door.
I parked on the sidewalk outside of the building and used my cell phone to order a cab. While I waited, I vowed to write a letter to whomever bore responsibility for Special Needs Dentistry.