I can’t stand being late. It’s a character flaw or a control issue, I’m not sure which, but I hate being late. It causes me unbelievable angst. I have a reoccurring dream/nightmare to prove it. It takes the “being late” theme to the extreme:
I am in college. I can’t remember where my class is -so I am wondering around aimlessly, searching, it’s getting later and later, days go by, months, I never get to class, and it’s over. I never take a test, read a book, or turn in an assignment. I fail the class. There goes my GPA.
As dreams/nightmares go, this doesn’t seem all that disturbing. Try being in my brain. This is the stuff that would make me wake up screaming (not really). I have another reoccurring dream/nightmare involving a vile disgusting public restroom and having to pee so bad I almost consider using it, but I digress.
I am not sure where this neurosis comes from. My mother is never late. In fact she is always awkwardly early. She gets somewhere unfashionably premature, therefore, she is never late. This is probably where it comes from. I think I may have passed it onto my oldest, who sat in the back of the minivan commenting on the way to school this morning, we’re going to be late, we always pass the bridge at 7:22, and now it’s 7:28…
Yikes (created a monster).
I have a job that pretty much ensures that I am late all day long, every day, for my entire career. Doctors are famous for making their patients wait, like we are doing it on purpose or something. Well, I’m not, I can’t speak for my colleagues. It’s more torture for me than my patients, I assure you. I have heard rumors of other doctors making their patients wait while they finish a personal phone call or an intense golf game, but I’m not one to fuel the rumor mill so forget you heard that from me.
I would venture to guess that most of my patients would say that I am a particularly prompt doctor (smiles pridefully), but without making the visit feel rushed or that I appear distracted (pats self on back). It’s a gift really (feeling a little cocky). Until something happens to muck up the works and I fall maddeningly behind and God forbid I don’t get to eat lunch (that never happens). Truthfully, as much as it makes me crazy to be late, it can not be helped.
The beauty of family medicine is that behind every door is someone/something surprisingly different. I never really know what can happen, what secret, what tragedy, what heartbreak, what symptom is revealed. It’s impossible to factor in these variables in a schedule full of patients. Sometimes, a little extra time is required, a little extra care, a little extra heart. I take the time despite my angst because the angst of the patient supersedes mine. It just does.
If enough of those moments happen in a day, I get behind, even if it’s just 10 minutes (but it’s more like 30). I guess I just have to accept that being a little late just comes with the territory (get over it already).
OK -I will (not really).