When Dealing with Lemons

When Dealing with Lemons

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I had my teeth cleaned today and, believe it or not, I had a blast.

I can only imagine what you’re thinking: Wow, this old gal has really lost her marbles.

Chew On LeftDon’t get me wrong.  I had a cleaning scheduled for today and then tomorrow, I have a crown prep, which is an hour and a half of drilling torture.  I’ve been dreading both appointments for days.

I do not particularly enjoy sitting there for an hour, while someone picks and scrapes at my teeth.  And maybe it’s just me, but in my humble opinion, anyone who loves that really has lost his or her marbles.

Still, I had a great time today, and I’ll tell you why.  We spent much of the hour laughing.

When we moved here, we had to find a dentist, obviously.  I have a hard and fast rule regarding dentists and doctors and anyone else I’d rather not be visiting.

Life is short.  So, maybe we are stuck enduring these visits.  But we can find people who make us happy and have nice, funny personalities, as well as being competent and caring.

They are usually the ones who are happy to take the time for some laughs and conversations, while they are treating you.

My dentist’s office has a wonderful, funny, and caring staff.  Maybe because we live in a small town, no one is in a huge hurry to get you out of there.  Perhaps if I were in a rush, I would feel differently about their set-up.  As it is, I am in no hurry, whatsoever.  I like the human connection, and they all seem to enjoy sharing some laughs. Judging by my hygienist’s belly laughs, she wasn’t the only one having a good time.  Even the dental assistant popped her head in, to see what was so funny.

I went through 3 GP’s before I found one that stuck.  One doctor was so busy flipping her perfectly coiffed hair that I don’t think she ever really got the fact that I was in the room.

When I requested some meds, it took her 3 weeks to get back to me.  Three weeks!  What the heck??  Worst of all, she had the personality of a slug.  Nothing.  Nada.  It was not a good fit.

My current doctor is pretty lousy about getting back to us, I’m sorry to say.  But he’s very nice and personable, and our twice a year check-ups are relaxed and thorough.  I like that.

I shopped around for my orthopedic surgeons who replaced my two hips and two knees.  I found the most incredibly kind, caring, humble and funny doctors, who work in tandem in the operating room.  After four surgeries, I’ve gotten to know them pretty well, and I am incredibly grateful for their personable and caring attention.  They made 4 grueling procedures, if not pleasant, at least endurable.  And their office lady worked tirelessly to make all the scheduling as painless as possible.  I truly love them all.

I’ve heard dozens of patients say that they don’t need their specialists to have a bedside manner.  Don’t buy it.  Not only are my surgeons hugely talented, with 35 years of experience; they are deeply caring, sweet guys.  It may be rare, but you can have talent,  excellence and humanity all wrapped up, in the same person.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not the type of irritating customer who, while in line at the grocery store, will continue a long, boring conversation with the teller long after she is done with my order.  I would never dream of keeping the people in line behind me waiting.

I don’t use checks.  I have my debit card ready to go.  I don’t use coupons, either.  I don’t want to delay anyone behind me.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t be pleasant with the clerk.

So, for the one to ten minutes while the check-out gal is working on my order, I’ll ask her how she’s doing, how her day is going.  One sweet gal would fill me in on how her very old mom was doing, after a broken hip.  It made me feel connected and I was seriously interested in her life.  I made it a point to find her, when I was looking for a check-out line.  I once asked her how she could stand being so sweet to horrible people, like the one that had been in line before me.  She said, “if I get a customer who is rude and angry, I pray for them.”  Wow.  Here I am, thinking “what a bitch that woman was,” and she’s praying for them?  Wisdom comes from unexpected sources.

So many customers are just plain rude to these people, who are doing their best to serve them, as efficiently as possible.

Let’s face it: some clerks aren’t really all that great at their jobs, but most are.  Those that aren’t can be pretty irritating, I’ll admit.  But rather than getting all pissy about their mistakes and sloth-like movements, I try to remind myself that I should count my blessings.

After all, I was born with a pretty quick mind and I can’t take any credit for that.  I also had a fantastic education and some quick-witted, talented parents who loved us and gave us a good childhood.

Maybe these people who secretly drive me up the wall just didn’t receive the gifts I did.  I give them the benefit of the doubt, and call on my patience.

We all have to endure doctor and dentist visits, as well as long lines at the grocery store.  When I first moved to our small, rural town, the slow patterns of the town inhabitants often drove me insane.  I had girls to pick up from school, or an appointment to get to!  I came from fairly large towns, where our lives were fast and furious.

I have learned to take the time to be genuinely interested in the people I deal with.

I am still working on my teeth grinding while driving behind people who see a speed sign that says “40 mph” and think that means “25 mph is just fine.”

This might take me a while, but I’m working on it.

Have a joyful Holiday Season!




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