After checking Miss Cathy’s progress (she was so engrossed in her closet you’d think she was looking for a hat to meet the Queen of Hearts but all she usually wears is army fatigues and an oversized tee under a poly blend jacket topped with a red ball cap no matter where she’s going or who she’s to meet) I decided to “warm up the car” as we used to say in the old days when cars required such attention but nowadays it’s my euphemism for needing to get out of the house.
When it got to be ten minutes before we needed to be someplace that was less than five minutes away (but would require at least that much time for mom to get into and out of the car) I knew it was time to call the doctor’s office to let them know that we’d be late.
After an interminable period of “press one for this and nine for that” the receptionist finally came on the line and after pleasantries and me explaining the reason for the call she told me we’d have to reschedule because “the doctor is ‘on call’ today and would have to leave” if we weren’t there on time.
I told the young woman on the other end of the line (Why are receptionist usually young women? And why didn’t young men ever apply for these jobs? Is it suddenly the Madmen 60’s where clerical office work in doctor’s offices was concerned?)
Anyway, my reassurances that we’d only be ten minutes or less ‘late’ did nothing to assuage her position. She was a ‘verbal gatekeeper’ and I was being denied access, I would have liked to throw her down a rabbit hole.
“Well”, I said, “I’m calling as a courtesy really, which is more than I can say for the hour we had to wait the last time we were in to see the doctor and no one ever came out to tell us how long he’d be or apologize for his tardiness.”
“One, two, three…” I breathed, calculating how I could turn this conversation around, trying not to sound ‘too’ annoyed, lest I give away my fantasy of someone I’d never met free-falling down into endless darkness before hitting an unknown bottom which is where I felt this conversation was heading.
“Can I speak to the doctor?”
“The doctor is in with a patient now, can I take a message for him and he’ll get back to you later this afternoon?” she said. (Oh no she did-int’!)
How could he be both with a patient and getting ready to leave because we’re not there-at the same time?
I was used to putting up with Miss Cathy’s inconsistencies but I had no need to indulge this girl’s word play.
Rather than question the receptionist who was (after all) just doing her job (and apparently not being paid enough to keep track of her own contradictions).
I simply said, “Well then, be that as it may, we’re in the car and will be there in two minutes…see you soon” and hung up smiling a broad Cheshire cat grin, not having to worry about the power to disappear because unlike the cat and Alice (because of the power of technology and not magic) she could hear but could she see me.