I am rigidly punctual for my clients. Since I moved my office to my basement, I can’t really blame any tardiness on the commute. I do recall the day the dog got sick at an inopportune time and I had to tell my client I’d need a few minutes to clean up. (Didn’t think J. would appreciate coming home to that!) But being late is the exception, not the rule.
On the other hand, I’ve spent hours waiting in doctors’ offices over the years, because I’ve spent more than my fair share of time with doctors. Having a lemon for a body will do that. I’ve learned to bring reading material and a snack, and I don’t schedule anything for several hours after the actual appointment time. If J. is with me, she often books off work for the day.
Now that I have leukemia, the waiting has reached new heights. Each appointment at the Cancer Centre involves bloodwork first, followed by an hour-and-a-half time lag awaiting results. Sometime after that–between half an hour and 4 hours–I have my turn with the doctor. Following the appointment, there’s the pharmacy, where the wait of up to an hour depends on the number of prescriptions ahead of mine that day. This is all assuming no curve balls–more bloodwork, a blood transfusion, being sent to Emergency–that could take several hours (or days) longer.
I’ve spent so much time waiting at the hospital that I can track the seasons by the changing stock at the gift shop. I know the iced tea is cheaper at one gift shop than another. I know what soups the cafeteria offers on which days–I’ve heard Tuesday’s Thai chicken is especially tasty–and I know that the sandwich lady, although she stands behind the counter all morning, will not assemble one of her fantastic sandwiches on request until 11 a.m. If my snack doesn’t sustain me, I’ll have to grab something that most likely does not meet the requirements of my strict low-sodium diet. (Okay, that does bug me. What’s with all the burgers and fries? It’s a hospital!)
I used to get aggravated by the wait but not anymore. Now I’d wait for hours in good cheer, especially for the doctors who saved my life. These doctors came in after a long day to ensure I was still alive while I was hooked up to tubes and IVs and other paraphernalia in the Intensive Care Unit last year. They came in on weekends, even if they were not on call, just to check on me, because they were so concerned. They took time away from their families and friends to make sure I would continue to have that time myself once I got out of the hospital.
So I’ve decided to enjoy the wait. I’ve realized it’s a lot easier for me to be punctual in my job than it is for doctors in theirs. I love my doctors and I’m deeply grateful for the time they make for me. Excuse the dramatic overtones, but I honestly might not be here to wait were it not for their care when I needed them. And for all I know, they’re late because they’re busy keeping another patient alive. Trust me, they can take all the time they need.
But if you’re my client, I still expect you to be on time. You know I will.