I’m the first to admit I’ve never been punctual. People who know me have learned to give me the wrong time to be somewhere so I’ll get there on time. For example, if an event starts at 7 PM, they’ll tell me it starts at 6:00 because they know I’ll arrive at 6:45.
Recently, since having my Mohs surgery, I’ve had to visit the office of a group of physicians every two days for a bandage change.
I was instructed beforehand to arrive 15 minutes early, wait in my car out in the parking lot and they would call my cell phone when they were ready for me. They even emphasized, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
The first day, I arrived 15 minutes early for my 8:00 AM appointment, which was a record for me – not only for actually getting out of bed at the crack of dawn, but also for arriving early anywhere. I was so proud of myself, I was tempted to go order an engraved trophy to display on my fireplace mantel.
Well, so much for being early. I ended up sitting out in the parking lot until 8:15 before my phone rang. It was so hot in my car (my A/C is “iffy” at best) and I was so sweaty by then, I didn’t even need a bandage change…because the bandage had slid off on its own.
“Where are you?” the voice asked in a tone that sounded just a bit irritated.
“Out in the parking lot, waiting for your call.”
“Oh…well, you can come in now.”
When I got home later, I realized why they’d been so late calling my cell phone. It was because they’d been calling my home phone. I had two messages on my answering machine saying, “You can come in now, we’re ready for you.”
Unfortunately, I was 17 miles away, sitting out in their parking lot both times they’d called. It must finally have dawned on them (my answering machine message saying, “I’m not home right now,” might have given them a clue) that they weren’t calling my cell phone.
The next appointment, I once again arrived early, but was called (this time on my cell phone) at 8:00 sharp. I was instructed to go up to the fifth floor and someone would meet me there and take me to the examining room. So I took the elevator to the fifth floor, stepped out – and didn’t see a soul anywhere.
But I did see so many hallways branching off from one another, I was pretty sure the building had been designed by the same guy who designed mazes for laboratory rats.
After 10 minutes of standing in one spot and still being the only person up there, I decided to go exploring. A dozen hallways later, I found a waiting-room door that had my doctor’s medical group’s name on it. I breathed a sigh of relief…until I tried the door and discovered it was locked. Also, the waiting room was dark.
There was a chair out in the hallway, so I sat down and waited for someone to arrive.
And then I waited some more.
By 8:30, I decided to throw caution to the wind and break the “don’t call us, we’ll call you” rule. Bravely, I called the number listed on my appointment card.
I knew I was in trouble when the woman who answered asked me what city I was calling from. It turned out she was in Massachusetts. By then, my voice could aptly be described as whining as I told her I was in a deserted hallway near a closed waiting-room. She told me she would call someone to come get me, and to stay where I was.
A few minutes later, a physician’s assistant appeared, smiling and apologizing. My appointment took all of five minutes.
When I was leaving, I stepped into the elevator and a woman pushing a mail cart suddenly appeared. She was the only person, other than the physician’s assistant, I’d seen on that floor that morning.
“Do you mind if I share the elevator with you?” she asked me.
I shrugged and said, “As long as you’re not an ex-convict carrying a hatchet, I’m fine with it.”
She looked wide-eyed at me and said, “No, I’m just delivering some packages.”
My next appointment is Thursday at 1:45.
I’ve decided I’m going to leave my house at 1:44.
It’s just no fun being early.
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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science-fiction. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.