Monday, 15 March 2010


This morning I had an appointment with an ENT doctor. Nothing special.
I was told to allow 15 minutes to register, bring along some identification and insurance card.
OK, I checked how to get there, pretty easy, and left nice and early.
Every thing under control, I made my way there, could see the hospital from the road and then somehow managed to lose my way.
And lose precious minutes trying to find it again.
The Dutch are sticklers for time, I don't want to be late.

I got there.
Now where to park the car? Opposite the building seemed most likely. Are we supposed to pay? Yes. I see a man standing by the parking-meter, looking around him, obviously needing some help.
An immigrant, Moroccan I think, looking puzzled and, I sense, a little reluctant to ask me, so I offer.

The ticket dispenser is something new, incredibly complicated, with buttons and switches, menus and choices, even some kind of keyboard behind glass, to register your license plate. Operated by a large knob to select numbers and letters.
The gentleman, regaining his composure, starts dictating his to me. His voice now authoritative but the accent makes it hard to understand and I don't want to embarrass him by letting him know.
And thus we struggle on together.
The positioning is very sensitive, the indicator jumping all over the place - it takes skill and concentration to hit the right spot.
And time.
Just as I think we might have managed to master the machine, my ally, who was noticeably becoming agitated and impatient, reaches out and masterfully presses the red button.

I give up, sorry, I have an appointment to keep, can't even see to my own ticket now - I'll probably get fined.
I dash into the hospital reception area, it is enormous, like the Central Station, and all the signs and brightly coloured directions are not helping.
I am confused. Where do I register?
I have to take a number first. Another machine. No buttons, no knobs, how does the number come out? Someone waves a hand over the clever little box on a pole, and out pops my number.
C0125, that means 7 to go before me, and what, 5 minutes to my appointment time?
But the numbers come up quickly and soon it is my turn. What is there to register anyway?
Name, address, insurance? Ya, that and a whole bunch of other stuff I have no idea what they need it for but I am in no position to spend time questioning that, so I answer whatever, grab the forms and back to the labyrinth of coloured paths to destinations less cheerful.
(Would be a great place for a children's party, treasure hunts, hide and seek.)
Now I am late, running through the corridors I crash into an angry looking man in a wheelchair, he turns around and glares at me, then moves toward the lift, raising his arm, shouting at the people inside to hold it for him.
I'd better take the stairs!
To my satisfaction, I get there first. Panting at the receptionist's desk, about to creatively explain my tardiness, I am kindly asked to fill in yet another form and to take my time as the doctor is running late.........

20 minutes later my name is called. The doctor.
Sometimes just one look is enough to know: I like this person.
I liked my new doctor.
He had kindness and fun written all over him and I happily followed him into his little office-cum-practice, ready to answer more questions, fill in more forms.
His eyes twinkled, his smile twinkled, his silver hair unruly like a teenager's and it seemed perfectly natural to be sitting there talking like old friends.
At some point I must have forgotten the reason of my visit, must not have realised he was about to examine me - I simply found my face being held in his warm hands, his face close to mine, I almost closed my eyes..............he gently eased a spatula into my mouth.

And so I left him, hugging my file. The nurse at the desk said my next appointment would be with another doctor as this one was leaving end of the month.
She must have read my expression for she gave me a knowing look and said: 'He is very nice too, promise.'

Outside, and back to reality, I see a group of parking attendants.
I get into the car meaning to inconspicuously drive past them, only I can't drive in reverse. It's not just me, lots of people can't, you can look it up, something to do with the brain.
Hmm, not sure that is making it better, but anyway, they were in stitches, pointing, shaking their heads.
Still, they helped, even offered to do it for me. And of course, I told them I hadn't paid for parking, had they fined me?
No luv, you're lucky, that machine is out of order.

Great. Thanks for telling me.
And as for lucky?
Come to think of it, yes, I was........ but how could they know?

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