Saturday, April 15, 2006

Blood Is Thicker than Etiquette

It's a glorious spring day here in the 'burbs of DC. How did I spend the morning? Strolling along the Mall? Sailing the Potomac? Dining al fresco at a waterfront bistro?

Nah. I went to one of those franchise medical services joint to have blood drawn. Nothing serious, just routine bloodwork. Seeing as how high cholesterol is as prevalent in my family as blue eyes, I like to keep up with it.

Anyhoo, the joint opens at 8:00 a.m. Silly me, I thought I was being an early bird by arriving at 8:20. Boy oh boy, was I wrong. When I got there, you would've thought they were handing out $20 bills to the first 100 customers. Seriously, the line stretched out the door. For medical services. On a Saturday morning on Easter weekend.

Come to think of it, that's kind of an ironic link-up.

So, there were about 30 people in front of me on the sign-in sheet. And there were about 20 seats in the waiting room. Know what that means? Yep, time to stand. Not that I minded the standing; I figure it burns more calories than sitting, so I might as well roll with the opportunity. Besides, I had my trusty Entertainment Weekly with me, so the time would pass quickly. Right?

Um, wrong. Hugely, unequivocally wrong. I was standing and waiting for an hour before the receptionist called me to the front desk to hand in my insurance information. And EW, much as I love it, is kind of a cotton candy magazine, so I'd finished with it at about minute 35. This left me with oodles of time to observe other folks in the waiting room. Know what I figured out? Common courtesy is not exactly alive and well.

At least six people got cell phone calls in that hour. They all tried to answer them, and the receptionist had to bark that no cell phone calls were allowed in the waiting room. Yeesh. Could you imagine that many people having conversations at once? And since I live in a pretty diverse area, these conversations would've been conducted in at least four different languages. One woman actually just went to hang out near the door to the place, like it was not as big a deal for us all to hear her conversation since she was almost outside.

There were no fewer than 10 children there. I think one of these kids was a patient. The rest of them were chillin' with their parents. Now, I totally get that some of these folks might not have childcare on a Saturday morning. But I can't think that lurking in a medical office was exactly fun for them, especially since there weren't any magazines, or kids books, or televisions. Seriously, if your ten-year-old son is entertaining himself by locking the front door of the office, maybe you need to re-think bringing him to places like this.

And finally...I wasn't the only one standing. Not by a long shot. Admittedly, I can't know what the seated folks were there for, and maybe they really needed to hunker down in those chairs. I passed up the opportunity to grab a chair when one opened up, causing my standing compatriots looked like they might need the chair more than I. But no one even offered to give up a seat, and there were more than a few hale and hearty teenagers, men, and women clutching their chairs like they were life preservers.

Maybe people just don't do that kind of stuff anymore...

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