Patients and Patience

I have just returned from a visit to the hospital in Petritoli, I had to have my ears “seen to”.  It was a typical Italian experience.
My appointment was for 08.00 so I arrived in good time and paid for the treatment first at the machine and then went to find the department. It was 07.55 and there were a few people already waiting. The ear specialist arrived but was unable to open the door so he had to go and find someone to open it for him. Eventually he found a nurse who brought a key. It’s now 08.10. So, as soon as the door is open a man pushes his way in for his ‘appointment’. Ah,  I wonder what the score is here so I ask a couple of people in my not very good Italian, “does everyone have an appointment for 8 o’clock?” They mumble something in dialect so I don’t fully understand, but something like, “first people here first in”. An old lady asks me if the doctor is going to call people and I say that it doesn’t look like it.   Some of us are standing and others sitting and we all stare at each other smiling, pulling faces, communicating visually with grimaces and raised eyebrows. I notice that some patients move strategically into position closer to the door and I do the same. So we are all waiting about. Again I mention the time of the appointments and notice that on my sheet of paper its says, ‘Presentazione 1’ which I assume means first. This time I’m ready when the door opens but a man beats me to it by swiftly maneuvering his wife ahead of him and deftly sweeping her in front of me!
Eventually I get my turn and in I go, the time is now 08.43. I hand over my paperwork and on the desk I see the list for this morning with my name at the top at 08.00! The next one at 08.10 so I ask him why it is that I had to wait and why didn’t he call people in order. He’s a rather nice, good looking doctor and I like a man in a white coat, but, typical Italian he just shrugs his shoulders and says, “that’s the way it is”. So we get on with the job of clearing the ears and when he goes to run the tap there’s no hot water so he goes out of the room, kidney bowl in hand to search elsewhere in the hospital for some warm water. When he comes back, five minutes later at the least, another patient tries to get into the door and he has to try and forcefully shut him out, the patient’s hand is waving a piece of paper through a tiny gap in the door but thankfully the nurse is here now and she deals with him. There is no privacy in an Italian consulting room by the way!
Ears finished I shake hands with the lovely calm doctor in his white coat, no stethoscope though, pity I could have had a proper fantasy. Such a shame the morning was spoiled by the selfishness of some Italians who simply couldn’t possibly wait their turn for anything.

If you can’t beat them join them. Next time I’ll be there at 07.30 for my 08.00 appointment.
Oh and its cost me €26.50 for all this.

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