Monday, March 10, 2014

"Where's The Line?"

I shall endeavor to write this blog post with a minimum of exclamation points.  You will admire my restraint in due course.

When I was seven, I was transported to the Toronto Hebrew Day School in what was called a “taxi” but was actually just our driver Mr. Rosen’s personal Pontiac.  During the course of our journey, my schoolmates and I were packed three-deep in the back seat, while a teenager named Marilyn Bell (who would later complete a solo swim across Lake Ontario) sat up front beside the driver. 

Marilyn Bell did not even go to our school.  (Oh, how I would dearly wish to put an exclamation point at the end of that sentence.  But hey, a promise is a promise.)

Suffocating beneath two, often heavier, schoolmates (picked up after I was, so they sat on me rather than me sitting on them) I had serious reservations about thie entire transporational arrangement.  And made note of my dissatisfaction out loud. 

After school, when Mr. Rosen delivered me back to my mother, he was heard to say,

“Your son is a chronic complainer.”


Slightly over six years ago, when I first began this blog, a fellow writer and (assumed) good friend, after reading some of my earliest posting efforts, concluded,

“You know what you are?  You’re a curmudgeon!”  (His exclamation point, not mine.)

So there you have it.

“Chronic complainer.”


Neither of the two known to be a compliment.

How, by contrast, do I see myself?

As a person who notices what’s not right and then says something about it.

Following in the proud tradition of historical luminaries who acted exactly the same way – the revolutionary Fathers of Our Country, suffragette Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr., and Gandhi.  (though I admittedly speak out against less significant concerns.)

Gandhi saw the oppression of his people by the British and made not the slightest pretense of keeping it to himself.

Did anyone call Gandhi a curmudgeon?

Dr. King preached long and loudly against racial justice.

Did anyone shout, “You’re a chronic complainer!”  (The shouter’s exclamation point, not mine.)

I do not take kindly to my relegation to the “complainer-curmudgeon” pigeonhole.  Which leads to this story, and its calm, though entirely accurate, recounting.

I had felt congestion in my ear tubes for three weeks.  I was referred to an ENT specialist.  I made an appointment, and I went.

My appointment was for two P.M.  I arrived a few minutes early, and I dutifully signed in.  I then took a seat in the Waiting Area, and I waited to be called. 

I passed the time reading an I-do-not know-how-old-an-issue of People Magazine, where I was treated to capsulized blurbettes concerning celebrities’ nuptials and break-ups, as well as a photographic series featuring celebrity mothers whose bodies had returned happily to form after recent pregnancies.

I was unfamiliar with easily ninety percent of these celebrities, the exception being a photographic essay involving former Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover models (Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley, etc.), comparing how they looked in their hey-day with the way they appear today.  The majority of them, I am pleased to report, remain remarkably fit.

I got up, and meandered over to the “Check-in” counter to ask for the time.  I was informed that it was two thirty-eight.  I made comment of that my appointment was for two o’clock.  I was informed that I was next.

(I don’t get it.  On the “Sign-in” sheet, there’s a column labeled “Arrival Time” and right beside it, another column labeled “Appointment Time.”  What is the point of that?  Do they just look at it later and laugh? 

Was that sarcastic?  Sorry, but, you know…thirty-eight minutes.)

After another almost twenty minutes of waiting (for a total of fifty-five minutes – I checked.), I was escorted back to the Examining Room.  About ten minutes later, the doctor arrived, and we got down to the business at hand.

Later, when I was being escorted out, my accompanying nurse crowed enthusiastically that the doctor had arrived at the Examining Room in record time.  I reminded her that I had already spent fifty-five minutes in the Waiting Area.  To which she replied that sometimes patients have to wait that long in the Examining Room as well. 

Apparently, the glass is always half full when it’s somebody else’s glass. 

(Too cynical?  I’m getting close to the end, and my even-handedness is rapidly running out of gas.)

The automatic “Parking Ticket” machine indicated that the charge for my parking in the “Doctors’ Building” was eighteen dollars. 

Okay, let’s see now.  I pay eighteen dollars for a (in total) one hour and thirteen minute doctor’s visit, more than eighty percent of which I spent reading People Magazine in the Waiting Area.  I mean,

Wait a second.


Did the doctor successfully treat your medical condition?

Yes he did.

Then you have nothing to complain about.




JED said...

I am a chronic uncomplainer. I keep a stiff upper lip and suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and do my best to be polite and get along.

Yet, all through my life I've admired the people who see a bad situation and say something about it. I envy the people who have the courage to stand up and say, "There is something wrong that needs to be fixed."

If people didn't complain about things, nothing would improve and we'd all be living in a Middle Ages scenario mucking out the king's stables and dying of the plague.

Go get 'em, Earl.

Kipplinger said...

You had to wait all that time AND you had to pay for parking????? I'd have lots to say about that, with plenty of !!!s and at least an equal number of profanities! If you've already been labeled a chronic complainer, might as well complain.