KIRBY: Waiting — the universal sufferage of doctor visits

I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.

 

– George Burns

 

We are in the waiting room, doing what one does there.

It’s a routine visit and not my appointment. I’m just the chauffeur. I sit and watch.

It’s a busy day as they tend to be this time of year and it resembles a M.A.S.H. unit of ambulatory challenges. There are canes and crutches and wheelchairs and those little one-leg scooters that rest one leg while making the other do the work.

My father is watching, too, and whispers that many folks appear overweight.

“They say it’s a national epidemic,” I respond non-judgmentally.

People, I notice, don’t sit down when they arrive. They collapse, letting gravity handle the last foot or so. Once there, they settle.

There’s an absence of magazines – an old waiting room standby – but that’s not a problem. Almost everyone is staring quietly at their phones. Some are texting. Some are talking. Some are watching.

Welcome to America in the new millennium.

A woman across the room is coughing and my mother reminds us to use the hand-cleaner units placed all around. They are everywhere.

“That’s new,” I think to myself

So are the restrooms. They have been converted to universal donor status. No more men and women depicted on doors in symbol figures. Just us.

“One stall fits all,” I seem to remember a newspaperman once writing. We’re here for tests although the problem is more likely related to too many birthdays. There are several like me – late middle-age pre-codgers sitting with their parents.

You can tell because so many children look like the people who brought them into the world on a day long ago. Today they partially return that favor by handling a doctor visit.

There is a TV screen mounted to the wall. It is showing a 24-hour news station and if you didn’t feel bad when you got here, that soon changes.

Natural disasters seem unnaturally commonplace. Politicians complain about each other, while vowing to fix the problems they, themselves, create. Sports teams you like, lose.

In between are commercials for products that cure ailments you didn’t know you had, but (and they say this real fast) also might lead to everything from diarrhea to suicide.

“What time was that appointment again?” I ask, as we continue waiting – the universal sufferage of doctor visits.

My late grandmother once put off such delays by proposing her own theory. In heaven, she’d chuckle, the good doctors would not get in until they had waited all the time they had made us wait on earth.

Theologically questionable, I suspect, but delightfully balanced.

I think about that on days like this because waiting relies on patients.

 

Reach Bill Kirby  at bill.kirby@augustachronicle.com.

 

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