A few years ago, while making a bank deposit at the drive thru window, I was a little shocked when the teller gave me my receipt, smiled, and asked me if I would “be interested in a car loan today?” It seemed a little odd at the time that such a thing might be offered to me as casually as being asked “would you like fries with that?” at McDonald’s. And this was long before banks needed bailouts and auto companies began sliding into bankruptcy. In hindsight, maybe that was part of the problem?
I had a similar feeling the other day at the doctor’s office. It seems that a new “multi site private company ” had taken over the practice since my last visit the year before. Unfortunately for me, along with every other patient in the waiting room considering the looks on their faces, this would not be an easy transition. It was much like starting all over again as if I hadn’t already been a patient there for say, 10 years. Appointments were obliterated, paperwork was lost, and at least three times while I sat in the waiting room, invisible patients were summoned while those of us who actually existed were ignored. I considered myself lucky that they got my name spelled correctly. On the third try.
Things were a little different when I was ushered into the part of the office where billing and insurance matters were taken care of. Here things ran like an assembly line with stellar efficiency. Disclaimers, agreements, and payment procedures, to be signed in triplicate of course, were read to me like memorized scripts from the mouths of robots. Not a single detail was overlooked. I felt a bit dazed by the speed at which I was spit back out into the waiting, and waiting, and waiting room.
After spending nearly two hours waiting for an appointment that should have lasted about 10 minutes, I was told I would have to come back in a week since my appointment was one of those erased from the books. (No rescheduling was needed for the “financial counseling” session apparently.) I was almost happy to get out of there, and I might have been had it not been for one thing I hadn’t noticed on my way in. It was a sign, and perhaps in more ways than one, I might add. It was typewritten on a sheet of paper and taped to the wall near the reception area, kind of “Pardon Our Dust” style. (Did the decorator have to reschedule as well?) It said: “We Have Free Wi-Fi!”
Free Wi-Fi? For what reason? To pass the time waiting for an appointment all morning for those patients who wouldn’t dream of going to the doctor without their laptops? For the purpose of distraction?