I hate hospitals.
I think the fact that I’m a germaphobe has something to do with it.
And yet there’s more to it than that.
I think it’s the smell, the white coats milling about, and the knowledge that everywhere you look, there’s sick people.
In spite of this, there are times I have to get over myself and dive into the pool of germs.
Today is one of those days.
As I approach the reception counter, I notice the disheveled woman behind it doesn’t seem to be having a good day.
I can hear her “tsking” every three seconds whilst impatiently pushing her hair out of her eyes.
I hand her my medical card and referral letter and smile.
I’m under the impression this might encourage her to reciprocate, but I’m sorely disappointed.
I wait patiently for her to instruct me to retake my seat, but instead I hear her say, “I’m sorry, but you don’t have an appointment today.”
Insert loud record scratch here.
“There must be a mistake. I made that appointment a month ago.”
“No. Sorry. Nothing in your name.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“Madam, I assure you I am not.”
Madam? I’m thrown for a loop but continue, “Please, won’t you check again? I took two buses and a tram to get here. It’s raining cats and dogs, my umbrella broke when the wind turned it inside out, and I shaved my legs this morning.”
“You shaved your legs this morning?”
“Yes. After all, I’m seeing the “vein specialist” and feel it’s best if he doesn’t think I’m here so we can braid each other’s leg hair, sip peyote tea, and sing ‘Kumbaya’.”
The receptionist stares at me fearfully.
As I see her reach for the phone, I know I have sixty seconds before two burly orderlies arrive bearing a straight jacket.
“Please. Will you check again?” I plead.
“Okay. Wait. I fix this,” she replies in heavily accented English.
Yes, you fix this. Fix this mess. Fix the problem.
Fix it so I can justify having dragged myself out of bed at eight in the morning, cut my legs twice with a disposable razor that hasn’t been used in nine months, and spent an hour looking for my shot record to make sure I’ve been vaccinated against tetanus.
Fix it so I don’t have to be pissed at having worn a new pair of underpants that are cutting off my circulation and now have to be added to the reject pile, so there’s a reason Roxy’s home activating her third bladder, and so I don’t have to kick myself for not having stopped at the bus stop to
drool look at the poster of the Abercrombie & Fitch guy with the hot abs.
Fix it so I have a reason for sitting next to the kid who has green snot streaming down his face, for trying to ignore that his nasty father has been staring at my boobs for the past ten minutes, and for having stepped in a pothole on my way here.
Fix it so I don’t have to ride in elevators with people who are coughing, people who sneeze without covering their mouths, and people who think flip flops are appropriate hospital shoe wear.
Fix it so I don’t have to feel older than Moses when I see doctors who look like Doogie Howser, nurses that resemble aerobics instructors, and residents wearing scrubs who remind me how as a child, the Son wanted to be a cardiothoracic surgeon but now wants to be a tattoo artist.
Please. Just. Fix. It.
“Ms. Bella,” her voice rouses me from the hypnotic state I seem to be in.
“I fix it. Please take a seat in the waiting room.”
I give her a dazzling smile, not the deranged one that signals, “I’m losing it. I’m at the edge of the ledge, ready to jump,” but the “Thank you so much. Have a nice day!” one.
I slowly walk back to my seat and notice the kid with the green boogers and his lecherous father are still there.
I strategically place my bag in front of my chest and put on my sunglasses; praying the dark lenses will dim the green hue of the kid’s boogers.
A woman wearing flip flops gives me a funny look.
I look back at her and give her my haughty, one eyebrow raised look; a look which silently communicates, “What? If you get to wear flip flops in the hospital, I get to wear shades.”