Friday, March 4, 2011

To-Do: make appointment

I found this old post from December. It made me laugh, then cry, then laugh again.
That alone makes it worth sharing.


I've had this item on my to-do list for a few weeks. An unpleasant little task, one that probably takes the average American a minute or so.
I am not the average American.
Living year round on an island means this task is akin to having bamboo shoots shoved under your fingernails.
Like having super sensitive parts of your body waxed.
Like being stung by 482 bees, at once.

I have to make an appointment.

Cue screaming in the streets, sirens wailing, dogs and cats, living together...

Seriously, you say, have you lost your mind out there on that rock? What's the big deal?

Let me give you a glimpse:

I write the task down on the whiteboard which graces our fridge, in less of an effort to remind me to make the call, more as a warning to the rest of the household that the call is going to be made. There is palpable tension in the air.
The Big Guy spots the note, and retreats to the garage. I haven't seen him in two days.

Thing One spots it, and asks 482 times if I've called yet. She is, of course, praying that the call takes place while she is out of the house. Thing Two is young enough that he is oblivious to it all.

I clear my schedule for two days. I arm myself with coffee, calendar, and a preemptive ativan. At 9am, just as the office is opening, I pounce.
The receptionist answers. She is cheerful (always a good sign).
Hello, I need to make an appointment.

Sure thing... (still cheerful!)...let me get The Book. Is this routine, or something else?

Wow, thanks for asking! Yes, just a routine appointment, no emergency. How far out are you booking?

Well...into January, but I'm sure we can find something sooner. (Remember- this was December)
(I make a bet with myself that March is possible, but April is more likely.)

I have openings next week, she says, one Tuesday and one Friday.

I take a deeeeep breath, and start my spiel.
Okay, here's the thing. I'm coming over from Frenchboro, which, I know, you've never heard of. 
It's an island. The one next to Swan's Island. We have to take a ferry boat to get to the mainland. 
And this ferry boat, it only runs Wednesday and Thursday, so I'm limited to appointments on those days only. 

This, by the way, is the point where I'm usually told that the Doc golfs on Wednesday afternoons and doesn't see patients, and schedules only surgery on Thursday mornings, and I politely hang up and search the Yellow Pages for the one Doctor/Dentist/Whatever Provider who has graduated at the bottom of their class and gotten their license in the State of Maine by the skin of their teeth, and is so desperate for patients/clients that they WILL work Wednesday afternoons AND Thursday mornings, and hell, will even come in at 7, to be sure you make the ferry on time. I'm still looking for him/her. But he/she is apparently in court defending him/herself for killing his/her last patient.

Oh, she says.
 (The cheer? It's gone.)
Well, hmm.....I........hmm.....oh, here! I have a Wednesday morning, at 9am, January 19th! She's all proud.

Sigh. No, I'm sorry. The ferry doesn't leave the island until 10:15, and gets to the mainland around 11am (if there aren't any delays, that is...). The earliest I can get to you would be noon, I guess.
I neglect to tell her that that's pushing it, and I will very likely be late for a noon appointment. Always hedge your bets.

Oh...we close for lunch from noon to one. Of course you do.
Let me find a Wednesday, after one.....

Well, a Thursday morning will work, too...but I'd have to have your very first appointment. 
(I wisely do not add that at 9:30 on the nose, regardless of what is transpiring, we will be walking out of the office to head for the ferry.
Been there, done that. You do not get invited back.)

Hmmm....I have the following Thursday, the 27th, at 2pm! She's cheerful again!

Noooo. No. The boat leaves the mainland at noon. We have to be in line by 11:30. As your office is located in Bangor, we'd have to leave you by 9:30, to be sure we can get there in time.

In my head, I begin the countdown...3...2....1....
and there it is!

Choking back the bile that quickly fills my throat, squelching the bitter rage at The Powers That Be in Rockland, who manage the ferry schedule, and are insensitive to our plight, I explain that No, No, I cannot take a later boat, because there IS no later boat...there is no other boat at all. There is only that one boat.
You either come off, or go on the island Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Sundays. 
I can come over to see you on Wednesday, and I can go home on Thursday. The boat makes other runs, five other runs to be exact, all to the OTHER island next to us, Swan's Island. 

She is now thoroughly annoyed, and all pretense of cheer has been eradicated. I can hear her wondering what kind of Halfway House situation this is. I can actually hear her brain stereotyping me as some kind of felon with a substance abuse problem, who has been locked away on some deserted island and only allowed access to the normal folk on the mainland one afternoon a week. I sense her wondering if I possess extra limbs, and the state of my dentition.

I find myself taking deep breaths, and considering a second ativan. And wishing I could telepathically give her one.

 Look, I know what a pain this is. I have to go through this explanation each and every time I make an appointment. I don't like it any more than you do; in fact, I can guarantee you that I LIKE IT LESS. An appointment on any day other than Wednesday afternoon or extremely early Thursday morning means leaving the island for three days, spending three nights in overpriced hotels, and three days of missed school and work.
Work with me here.
Let's look at March. You should be wide open then. Can you find a Wednesday appointment, after one, in March??

She is incredulous, as this is December, that I would be looking at March, but gives me the 16th at 1pm, her first open Wednesday.
Success! In only 28 minutes!

I win!
I get to pull my kids out of school for two days, take two days off from the Post Office, close my Bakery for two days, spend $56 in ferry tickets for the four of us and one car, and another $125 for a place to sleep.
And because it's such a hassle to come off the island, losing work and days of school, we do it very infrequently. Like, about 4 times in 9  months. (My record is 16 weeks. It wasn't pretty.)
So...the grocery shopping?
Oh. My. Lord. Almighty.

MONTHS of Bakery supplies, plus MONTHS of bathroom supplies, and MONTHS of dry goods, and a crap-ton of milk, and &^%&^)(*)(@#!@#*()__)(*^~!@#$%^.
Wal-mart is jealous of my pantries. (-ies, as in, plural. Because, yeah...that's a ton of food.)

But I'm jealous of Walmart, because in this house, we only see fresh, green veggies every 8 weeks or so. My kids - and I quote- "love going out to eat because the salad is never brown".

My kids, when asked by my Father what they wanted for christmas this year, asked for a membership in the Fruit Of The Month Club. (Papa once sent a fruit basket. They STILL talk about it.)
He was only too happy to oblige. And they LOVE it.
The rest of these islanders, almost all of whom all have either a second house on the mainland or family to crash with, don't get it. They go off every 2 weeks or so for groceries, or 'a break'.
My kids jump for joy at a fruit basket.

Ah, island life.

The best part? I now have an appointment, in Bangor, on March 16th at 1pm.
Fifty bucks says it storms and the frickin' boat don't run.

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