Tuesday, September 4, 2007

connecting over a complaint

My doctor, who otherwise rocks (really, I owe my friend who referred me LARGE), seems to have a serious issue with scheduling her appointments. Unless you get there first thing in the morning (and she will take patients at 7:30am, so I have to give her serious points for that in my world where I get up at 6am on weeekends!), you're doomed to wait for over an hour. Ninety minutes isn't unheard of.

I had to go in recently as I've encountered some new, fantastic allergies. (They just popped up this year and wow, have they ever come with a vengeance. But I'll save that for another time.) Well, the only time her receptionist would give me was 5pm. You know how at the passport office they show some times of the day on a chart as green because they're the least busy times and then they show others as red because they're crazy busy? Five o'clock would be flashing, neon, dripping red time. I walked into her waiting room at 5:10 (really, why be on time?!) expecting the worst.

There were six people waiting ahead of me. Some had clearly been there for the requisite hour and beyond, since my nostrils were assaulted by the scent of stress. I sat down and started playing with my PDA, as I tend to do to block out such annoyances. (This has become much more fulfilling now that I've discovered dailylit.com, which will send pieces of a book to my PDA every day, at a time I choose. I love those people.) Some people were reading the seven year old magazines on the sidetables; others were staring at the ceiling with a scrunched up, tired look on their face.

I was stunned out of part 21 of Chekhov's The Seagull by the realization that there was actual discussion happening around me. A somewhat dishevelled-looking woman sitting to my left had caught the eye of another woman in a three-piece suit sitting to my right and broke the ice, bitching about the delay. "I just can't do this," she said, "not anymore." The lawyerly-looking woman replied, "Is it always like this? I have things to do." A full-on 15 minute conversation ensued, with a hippie-looking guy joining in, until Madam Dishevelled was called for her appointment.

This seems noteworthy to me, since I've grown up in and lived in a big city all of my life. People from totally different walks of life who would never speak otherwise connecting in a heart-to-heart over a common complaint-?! How cool. We've all seen it, especially in ridiculous queues at the bank, sporting events, for driver's license renewals, or waiting for an appointment.

And so for all of you out there (especially the guy I found last night who recommends we all take the H-elplessness and the E-ntitlement out of W-H-I-N-E to W-I-N) who advocate a complaint-free world: do you really want to take away one of the few ways perfect strangers manage to connect in this cold and often crappy world?



SunnyShine note: I think the greatest example of this was during the blackout. Also, your experience could be worse. If you lived in the US, you would have to wait AND be hit with an exorbitant bill for your trouble. That would really give you something to complain about.

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