Sam has been nudging me to have a flu shot, as Sam likes to do. The fact that I have had a flu shot every year for the last 20 years, doesn’t seem to register with him when he is, um, is nagging too strong a term? I checked with the doctor last Friday about having a flu shot and the doctor was closed. He was open again 8am Monday morning. Okay, I am up early, I can get there by 8am, easy.
Of course, 60 Minutes did a piece on flu shots, covering how people die from the flu, concluding that if those people who died had had a flu shot they probably wouldn’t have died.
Hmmmm? I wonder how many people watched 60 minutes, who are now be going to the doctor first thing tomorrow? Thanks 60 minutes.
So, of course, I woke up this morning at 7.45am. The morning I needed to wake up early, I didn’t. What happened to my normal 6am rise? Grrrr!
So, I am out of bed by 7.50am. I’m dressed by 7.55am. I am out the door by 8am. I am at the doctor by 8.05am, by which time there is six people in front of me.
So, I hadn’t had a coffee, clearly.
And Doctor Ward seemed to be in a world of his own, wandering around the surgery doing god knows what. Jesus, man, get your act together, we’re on the clock here. He’s looking much older since the last time I saw him, close to retirement age, possibly?
The first guy sits on the seat closest the Doctor Ward’s door, as you would imagine. The old chick sits on the other end of the seats closest to the doctor’s door. The three other girls sit down and put earphones in their ears. The pretty one also opens one of those two thousand page novels and starts to read. I hope that isn’t a sign of how long we are going to have to wait. The lank-haired blond girl looks angry, she could be a closet serial killer, I think. She is wearing a very tight black outfit, long pants and a jacket, possibly neoprene. Maybe it is the tightness of her outfit that is making her angry? Maybe, the 100% synthetic material is slowly suffocating her, which is making her crabby. Who can say? The third woman looks too young for a hip replacement, but she limps to her chair none the less.
No one wants to sit near each other. I sit in the seat I would classify as Siberia, around the corner of the reception desk.
The first guy goes in. I cheekily move to the seat closest to the doctor’s door, that the first guy has just vacated. I start to write my journal on my phone. I write about what I can see. The old, the pretty, the angry and the lame.
The first guy is inside for 5 minutes, then he comes out and walks straight out of the surgery.
The old girl heads into the surgery.
Then we wait. And wait. And wait.
The chick with the bad hip, buggered knee, whatever, chews gum, with an open mouth. I’m sure her lips would be making slurping noises, if I didn’t have headphones in my ears.
The first guy comes back with, what I assume, is his flu shot and he is ushered into the other room, what turns out to be the injection room.
I think, do I have to wait here for however long and then have to go and get my flu shot? Couldn’t I get my flu shot while I am waiting, cut down on time. Win/win. There must be a better system?
And we wait. And wait. And wait.
I start sending derogatory messages to Sam about all of the other patients in the waiting room.
Sam replies, “Calm down, mate, calm down.”
I tell him old people should just die, and he tells me to head out into the shopping strip and get myself a coffee before somebody gets hurt.
Ha ha, I laugh. “I am just bored and trying to be funny.”
“You are not being funny,” replies Sam.
“I think I am really funny.”
“You think you are,” replies Sam.
“I am being charming and witty. Well, perhaps more witty than charming.”
“You are engaging I hate speech, and I am in a meeting,” says Sam.
Finally, the old woman comes out of the surgery. Doctor Ward heads into the second room to give the first man his flu shot. The old woman attempts to follow Doctor Ward like a puppy, which leads to an awkward moment in the doorway to the second room. The doctor and the old woman try a two step in the threshold, which almost turns into a waltz, until the old woman seems to understand she is not to follow him. She slumps down in a chair by the pretty girl with the head phones reading the encyclopaedia.
The first guy comes out of the second room and the old woman stands up and heads into the second room and the door closes.
And we wait. And we wait. And we wait.
The woman with the limp gets up and leaves the waiting room as quickly as the lame can exit a room.
Doctor Ward and the old woman come out of the second room giggling to each other. They stand at the reception desk, as if they have time on their side, which neither of them do. The old lady gets a plastic container and heads to the toilet. I try hard not to think about that.
Doctor Ward calls the pretty girl into room number one and closes the door.
Another woman arrives dressed in an awful outfit, white with lilac and red and lime green stripes, in a cheap chiffon material, with her arms exposed. She sits next to me.
Doctor Ward’s door opens and he heads into the second room. He comes back momentarily with, what looks like, a syringe, presumably a flu shot in his hand.
“I had one left,” he says, addressing the pretty girl inside his room. He has that dopey look on his face that straight men get on their faces when their attention is taken by a pretty girl. He shakes the syringe in his hand like it is the prize that he had won for the pretty maiden. Stupid smile. He closes the door behind him.
I see, the pretty girl gets the flu shot gotten for her, while the rest of us must go and collect our own from the chemist next door. Lovely. We’re all equal in Doctor Ward’s world.
The door opens and Doctor Ward heads to the second room followed by the pretty girl. Not long after, Doctor Ward appears back out the door like something dirty had just happened, big eyes and a mouth shaped like an O. He calls the angry chick into the first room, she stomps across the waiting room. The door closes.
A man with curly hair fronts up at reception. He is complaining because he’d arrive an hour before at the chemist to be told that the chemist shop didn’t do flu shots, with no direction to the doctor’s surgery next door.
“It would have been nice to have been told about you guys in here.”
“Well, I can’t speak for the chemist, you understand,” says the doctor’s receptionist.
“Oh yes, I appreciate that,” says grumpy curly-haired guy. “But I have wasted an hour.”
“Well, I am sorry about that,” says the doctor’s receptionist.
“It would just have been nice to be given the correct information an hour ago.”
“I appreciate that,” says the doctors receptionist.
“I could have had it done by now.”
“Yes, I can see what you are saying.”
“It is just very frustrating.”
“Yes, I am sure it is.”
“If you would like to take a seat sir?” says the receptionist with a sale of the Century hand wave towards the waiting room.
Curly-haired guy turns and looks at each of us, vaguely, like he wouldn’t like to sit next to any of us.
The injection room door opens and the pretty girl appears, still adjusting her clothes as she crosses the waiting room.
Doctor Ward’s door opens and angry girl stomps out of the surgery.
Doctor ward calls my name.
I get a script for something else and then I am sent to the chemist to get my flu shot. As I am waiting in the chemist for the chemist to provide me with my filled script, the woman in the awful outfit arrives to collect her flu shot.
I sit back down in the doctor’s waiting room with my flu shot. The woman in the awful outfit is soon sitting next to me with her flu shot in her hand.
Doctor Ward’s door opens and he walks to the reception desk. He looks right passed me to the woman in the awful outfit. The dirty old man’s eyes light up gazing upon a woman in need. That same dopey look spreads across his face. “You’ve got your shot,” he says. “Come with me.” He starts heading towards the second room.
Bugger that, I think. “Um, I have my flu shot too,” I say.
Doctor Ward turns in my direction. Of course, the dopey I-spy-woman expression disappears from his face. He looks at me. Oh yes, him, I can read his mind. “Oh, ah.” He looks back at the woman in the awful outfit. “I think this gentlemen may have been first,” he says like a regret.
There is no may-have-been about it, I think. I’m on my feet and heading to room number 2 with old man Ward. I’ve nearly got a skip in my step as I cross the waiting room, nearly released from purgatory. Come on old man, let’s get this show over and done with. I want to take him by the hand but, of course, I don’t.
I am back out in the sunshine by 9.30am. My flu shot has taken an hour and half. But now it is over and done with. I could, of course, made an appointment with my normal doctor and got a flu shot with him. I wouldn’t have to wait for him, well, not for very long, although… wobbling my flat hand from side to side in the air. I would, of course, have had to drive to his surgery, or I could have ridden my bike, I guess, instead of walking. I would have had to pay him $75 for the appointment, half of which I would have got back on Medicare.