The Doctor’s Appointment

I had a doctor’s appointment last week.

But before I tell you that story, I must tell you this one: I can never say or write “doctor’s appointment” without remembering when Owen was three or four years old and had to go to the doctor, and thought his doctor’s name was Zappointment. Doctor Zappointment.

Funny.

OK, so I had a doctor’s appointment. I was supposed to go in June, but I was still unemployed in June, and had recently seen my emergency unemployment benefits cut — ended, actually, and replaced by a new round of significantly-reduced regular benefits — and I had also recently changed health insurance, and my doctor’s HMO didn’t accept the new insurance, so that meant I would have to pay cash, and I didn’t have the cash, so I put off the making the appointment.

So here I was with enough cash to pay for the appointment, so I called and made one. It was for Thursday at 13:30. The email reminder I received the day before told me for annual physicals not to eat anything for eight hours before the appointment and not to use any creams or lotions on my skin. So I made sure to shave the day before so my aftershave gel wouldn’t interfere with my blood test (I think that’s the reason they say not to use creams or lotions), but there was nothing I could do about not eating.

I was hungry all morning. I was allowed to have coffee, so I had that, but I couldn’t eat anything until after the appointment, some time after 14:00, I suspected. Some days when I don’t eat breakfast I’m OK, I can go till 15:00 before nearly falling over from hunger. Other days I’m starving by 11:00. Today was one of those days.

I left for the appointment at 13:00. I put a sandwich in my pocket so I could eat as soon as I left the doctor’s office. I walked over — it only took about twenty-five minutes — and checked in.

It didn’t take long for my doctor to appear. He asked me how I was doing, then told me I was not scheduled for my annual physical today, that it hadn’t been twelve months since my last physical, that this was my follow-up appointment. I asked if June wasn’t my annual date (I go every June and December. It’s easy to remember because it’s the month of Owen’s birthday and of Xmas.) and he said No, June was my follow-up month and it was that one I was late for.

The entire appointment took all of five minutes. I had my blood pressure and pulse taken, breathed deeply a few times, gave blood, paid a ridiculous amount of money for a five-minute visit, then headed down the stairs.

The one thing about the building he’s in is that the elevators are so slow that when one finally arrives, so many people have gathered that it always fills up. I hate getting onto packed elevators, so many times I will wait until the next one arrives, but by the time it does, so many people have gathered that it’s packed again. Most people don’t seem to mind packing themselves like sardines onto an elevator. I think it has to do with declining standards of civility.

Anyway, I take the stairs back down because I refuse to wait for the elevator and I refuse to ride a crowded elevator. I would take the stairs up but the door doesn’t open on the 7th floor, which is where my doctor’s office is. As soon as I was on the stairs going down I pulled out my sandwich and started eating. I put it away when I got to the first floor though — I didn’t want to appear to be a barbarian — but resumed eating once I got outside.

So it was on my way back to work that I saw this sign. It’s the first time I’ve seen such a sign, mounted, so low to the ground. I wonder who it’s meant for? Surely not automobiles; those signs are twenty feet or more off the ground. It could only be for pedestrians crossing Lexington Avenue on East 32nd Street, westward. They must be a fast bunch.

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