Stolen Moments

Appointments. I don’t believe in appointments anymore. No matter who I make an appointment with, they’re never ready for me at the prescribed time. The appointment cards or letters always demand that you appear ahead of your appointment, but then those I have appointments with leave me cooling my heels in a waiting room for anywhere from a half hour to as much as three hours. It makes me angry and it’s not uncommon for me to simply stroll to the reception desk and explain that I was there on time, they aren’t and so I’m leaving, and God help them if they try to stick me with some sort of missed appointment fee.

I just blew off an appointment with the local Honda dealer. I got a recall notice on my van explaining that they had made an assembly mistake. Apparently they failed to install the rivets that hold the driver’s side airbag in place. A collision will cause it to become a solid cannonball that fires out of the steering column at my head instead of inflating. The more time goes by, the more I regret buying a vehicle from a company that discriminates against veterans and takes their manufacturing responsibilities somewhat less than seriously. The notice swore in writing that the process wouldn’t take more than 30 minutes from drive in to drive out. When I made the appointment over the phone, the service writer ratified the claim. When I got to the Honda dealer, they said that it would take about an hour and a half to two hours. Then they said that lunch might also intervene. I showed them the recall certificate and pointed to the words of the Honda gods themselves, and told them to reschedule the appointment and I would show up with a stopwatch and a gun. He laughed half heartedly and then looked to see I wasn’t laughing with him. “I’m not here for your convenience,” I snarled. “You’re here for mine and atop it all because your product is defective enough to be deadly.” I have the airbags in the car disabled to make sure a pothole or some other jarring experience doesn’t turn lethal.

Six years ago I had a doctor’s appointment. I showed up on time, only to be rescheduled because the doctor had overbooked himself. After the third time I showed up only to be told the same thing, I walked past the reception desk and strolled into the examining room. There was a man in there on the table, shirt off. The doc was listening to him with his stethoscope. I hopped onto the table next to the other patient and held out my hand to him introducing myself. He shook my hand and told me his name, looking a bit confused. I turned to the doctor and explained that we had an appointment, that this was the third time I had been blown off, and even if he had to deal with the other patient and me at the same time, he was damn well going to see me on time. The other patient started laughing and the doctor got red faced angry. He said my behavior was outrageous. I told im that no, his goddam greed was outrageous and insensitive as hell. Over booking and screwing up everyone’s schedules so he could pack as many patient fees into a day as possible. He said that he wouldn’t treat me at all, and as I rose, the other guy stood with me. He told the doctor that he agreed with me, he’d made two other attempts at getting seen and that he didn’t want the doctor treating him since he was an insensitive prick. We left together. The next urologist I tried actually kept his appintments, a welcome surprise. Thinking about it, I can’t remember any other appointment in the last decade that actually fit the agreed schedule.

I was raised to be prompt. It must have rubbed off well because I take a lack of timeliness as a sign of disrespect or self-absorbtion. I’m not a time nazi, I can handle arrangements like “about five o’clock” and not feel preturbed if it turns out to be five thirty. Longer than that I figure a call is the polite way. Keeping people waiting is an infringement on their time and whether friendship or professionalism, we should respect one another. Most of the time I’m left waiting is in professional services; medical related in some way usually. I tend to believe that if a doctor isn’t capable of proper assessment of his watch, my body is going to present an even larger challenge. Since I need to trust the doctors I need to help me, an immediate loss of respect does irreparable damage from the get go. If a doctor is late getting to me and then doesn’t appear to be paying attention to my symptom complaints, instead listening for keywords upon which the doctor can do a fast match up to a medication, I’ll drop them instantly. My medical condition frightens me and so any physician or tech who doesn’t take my situation as seriously as I do is a discard. Even at the VA I have requested –and received, a change in doctors because they lost my confidence by way of cavalier attitude.

Having a cancer that’s terminal and currently incurable only makes my time more valuable to me. One would think that of all people, medical professionals would understand and respect the concept. Yet it’s mostly medical people who inflict time waste on others, while becomming outraged if the situation reverses itself. But other professions can be just as guilty. I like that companies like Comcast give a time slot in which a service person will arrive –and fine themselves if their company fails to hit the mark. I once got a call from a Comcast service person who got held up on the job receeding mine, and called to apologize. I forgave him instantly because he called as soon as he figured out he’d be late and I forgave instantly. He had respect for my time and feelings and so I accepted that sometimes stuff happens unexpectedly. As long as the tardy party shows regard, I can be tolerant as all get out. It’s things like purposeful overbooking for purposes of avarice that fries me. The way I see it, if the VA can keep appointment schedules, and their record is pretty good with me, then private practice, medical, automotive, whatever, charging premium rates for their services, had damn well better be on the ball.