Featured image from Pinterest.
I’ve mentioned once before funny things about visiting a small town doctor. Here’s a more personal, hearing-every-second-ticking-on-the-clock account of this experience in Czech Republic.
You had best be there 7am sharp when they open. Better yet, 6:50am. Yes, rub the sleep from your eyes at 5am so you won’t be late. You need to be there to press the button and get yourself a number between 1 and 4 or you will definitely be late to work.
Even if you get there at 7:15, still patting yourself on the back for your hustle, the nurse will only be taking blood until 7:30 the earliest, and you’re lucky if they’re not already five people deep in the waiting room.
Everyone’s already looking at you suspiciously as you enter. You say a sheepish “Dobrý den” in greeting, which means, I’m sorry I have to fight with you for the nurse’s attention; please cough away from my general person.
In the Čekárna (waiting room), everyone diverts their eyes towards their shoes. Twenty-year old posters warn about diabetes, encephalitis and the virtues of flu shots (“The flu isn’t a cold!”).
Someone who has just come to pick up their work permission or ask a quick question or say anything at all to the nurse without that golden number 1 on their small paper stands nervously in front of the doorknob-less entrance to the inner sanctum of the doctor’s office.
The nurse finally opens it to ask, “Někdo další na odběr?” (Anyone else for blood tests?) Everyone cranes their necks to see through to the light in the open door, silently screaming their presence. An older woman stands up, apparently knowing exactly her place in the line-up. Meanwhile, the unauthorized person starts to speak quickly, justifying their need, and steals that coveted entrance into the room.
The door closes.
A sort of silence like ruffled hens trying to appear unruffled.
Cheerful voices can be heard chatting inside.
A moment later that lucky person emerges, victorious. When will the doctor start seeing people? you wonder. The person gathers their coat and belongings, heads for the door.
As they touch the door handle, they say goodbye and we all return in chorus the obligatory and cheerful, “Na shledanooooouuuuu!”
You sigh and look again at your slip of paper. It’s a bold black 6. It’ll be awhile.