The day began with lots and lots of pain. I have some respiratory disease I can't shake that makes me cough until I feel like all of those little bronchial tubes in my chest are on fire. As a teacher, I haven't been able to rest my voice, which only irritated this feeling, so I finally decided I couldn't take the burning anymore and called the doctor.
"Sorry, we're booked," said the woman on the phone, who really didn't sound sorry. "I can transfer you to Dr. Smith's office." So she did.
"Sorry, we're booked," said the woman at Dr. Smith's office. If possible, she sounded less contrite than the first. "You can try Dr. Jones's office." And so I did.
"We might be able to work you in," she said doubtfully. "Just come down here and sign in."
I trudge to the doctor's office with my books and my laptop, prepared to wait and work, this being my only day to plan lectures besides the weekend. I feel like sludge. They take $115 dollars from me, and I remember that I now have state insurance with no copay, and I feel even sludgier. They send me to Dr. Jones's office with my chart. Thirty minutes of my life have passed during this process.
I hand my chart to the receptionist and she glares at me. "Who are you?" she asks. I cannot understand the hostility. I should be angry at her for stealing $115 out of my paycheck, which isn't even hours old today. I tell her my name, which is clearly printed on the front of my chart, and it makes her more angry. "I JUST talked to you on the phone and said we had NO ROOM." I open and close my mouth. I have nothing to say. She's lying. And she's making me feel like dirt in front of a hallway full of people. She rolls her eyes at me and huffs a big breath, blowing at the papers clipped on the clipboard. "I guess you'll just have to wait for two hours and see if you get lucky."
I return to where she gestured -- a large germ-infested waiting room -- and then decide I'm wasting my time. I tell the attendant at the front I must've misunderstood, that this doctor couldn't work me in after all, and I ask for my money back, which they grant to me. I am quite distressed at this point, feeling, as I do, on fire, now aware that I will continue to feel on fire for some time, untreated. I am not indignant or angry. I just want to disappear into the floor, where maybe I won't feel sick or exhausted or upset for being yelled at for no reason at all.
I go home and pity myself for a while. I get a phone call, unexpectedly.
"Is this Kacy?"
"I think I was rude to you today, and I wanted to say I was sorry."
No one ever tells me they are sorry. I stumble around for a response.
"I was short with you and I realize that now, and I think I'm why you left, and, knowing that, I couldn't even eat my lunch. So I just wanted to tell you I apologize, and that if you come at 2, I'll make sure you see a doctor."
This was a remarkable thing for her to do. That room was full of patients; that business did not need my money. She doesn't know me at all. She had no reason to track me down and apologize, and she did it anyway, even though dialing my phone number must have been uncomfortable. So today I'm thankful for her humility, which restores a bit of my faith in humanity.