Not A Laughing Matter

Aside

Dear Nurse Practitioner,

I understand you guys get backed up.  I get it.  Especially when you had to reschedule my appointment for the following week after you got sick and had to cancel my original appointment.  I bet you packed the schedule tight to get us all worked in.  And my 11:15 appointment was likely at the end of the morning batch of patients, so I knew I’d bear the brunt of all the little delays that built over the course of the morning.  But I also knew that my time with you would be brief so I was hopeful that I’d be back at work by 1:00.

So when I wasn’t called back until 11:40, I was mildly annoyed but not upset or worried about my time.  These things happen.  The nurse took my blood pressure and then told me to strip from the waist down.  You’d be in shortly, she told me.  So I wrapped the little pink paper blanket around my waist and hopped up on the table.

I played Candy Crush until I ran out of lives and my back began to hurt.  I laid back on the table, propping my feet up in the stirrups to relieve pressure on my lower back, altered the time on my phone to get more lives, and continued to wait.  By 12:20, I was beginning to wonder if I needed to call work and reschedule my afternoon.  Eating lunch before my 1:15 meeting was looking very questionable.  Still, these things happen.  So while I had hoped the appointment would go faster, I still wasn’t upset.  Just resigned.

And then you walked in.  Forty five minutes after I stripped for the exam.  I suppose you were nervous about how I might react to having been kept waiting for so long.  You probably thought some humor would defuse the situation.  If you could just laugh and get me to laugh with you, then you could believe everything is ok.  We could be friends.  Or at least friendly.

You have a strange sense of humor though.  Let me suggest that when you have left a woman lying half naked on an exam table for so long that her hips and back have seized up to the point that she isn’t sure she can scoot that bare bum to the edge of the table, you might want to just apologize for the delay and promise a speedy conclusion.

Joking with her about how long she was left waiting is a terrible idea.  I bet you were wondering how long you were going to have to wait, huh? *chuckle* *chuckle* Silence from me.  Probably thought we should feed you lunch, huh? *chuckle* Silence.  That’s the least we could have done, huh?  You’re probably getting pretty hungry.  You ought to at least be offered a soda, right? *chuckle* Silence as I struggle into position.  Even airlines offer you a soda for a one hour flight, right? *chuckle* *chuckle* More silence.  I was on a one hour flight the other day and they rolled out the beverage cart!  I couldn’t believe it! *chuckle* Silence.

I was silent because I didn’t want to “make it all ok” by laughing, even fake laughing.  And I didn’t know how to respond.  What did you expect me to say?  Yes, in fact, I was hungry.  And about ready to use the bathroom again, as I said when you asked me if my bladder was empty and I said it was when I entered the room some time ago.  And now that you mention it, wow, it would have been kind of nice if the nurse had offered me something to drink.  Or at least come in and told me how much longer it was going to be.  Or check that I was ok.  Something. Now that you mention it.

Please remember that I was not particularly upset before you walked in the door.  But after you went on and on about the delay, you convinced me.  It was excessive.  And uncomfortable.  And your joking about it obnoxious and a bit offensive.  And now I’m upset.  So thanks.  And please do me a favor.  When I come back in about five years, just come in and say, “Hey!  Sorry about the delay.  I’m going to get you out of here as quick as I can.”  That’d work swell for me.

Sincerely,

The Girl Who Waited

(Sorry, couldn’t resist a nod to Doctor Who in the signature line…)

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Grammar Mom

Jane, sitting on our bed, braiding her hair. “Daddy, I need to teach you to braid hair. So you can braid Jennifer and I’s hair together.”

“Why would I do that?”

“It’s a thing. I’ll show you.”

I looked up from my game of Candy Crush and said, “You aren’t going to do it until you can say it correctly.”

“Jennifer and… my’s hair.”

“Nope, not it.”

“Me and Jennifer’s hair.”

“Nope.”

“Jennifer and me’s hair?”

“Nope.”

“There’s nothing left!”

“Not true.”

“Then what else can it be?”

“Do you make ‘my’ possessive by adding an apostrophe S or is it already possessive?”

“Jennifer and my hair.”

“There you go!”

But the thing is, I wasn’t sure that was right. I knew it was more right than her mangled attempts, but that didn’t make it right. I pondered it the next day and even discussed it with some coworkers.

When I got home, I renewed the discussion.

“Honey, I’m not sure that it should be ‘Jennifer and my hair’. It might actually be ‘Jennifer’s and my hair’.”

“I think me and Jennifer’s sounds better.”

“No! That sounds hideous! Don’t say it like that.”

“I’m A-murr-ican. We don’t talk right.”

“I don’t care. I want you to speak well. The best thing to do, really, is to phrase it differently because even the right way sounds strange. You should probably say, ‘Jennifer and I would like you to braid our hair together’.”

I’m pretty sure she’s unconvinced, so this topic will undoubtedly come up again. It might take more work than breaking her of saying she got “an a hundred” on a paper, but it’ll be worth it. I think she loves having me as her mother. I mean, she gets to have discussions that other children wouldn’t even dream of having. How cool is that?

Sharing the Burden

I consider myself to be a modern and progressive woman, fully capable of accomplishing most anything. I have a college degree and work in a male-dominated technical field. I am the primary bread winner while my husband is the stay-at-home parent.

I’ve always had the attitude that I can do anything a man can do. In fact, as a kid, I used to try (repeatedly) to pee standing in front of the toilet. As a teenager, when a boy offered his hand as I climbed down off a rock, instead of viewing that as an opportunity to strike up a conversation with a cute guy, I glared at him and haughtily announced that I could get down by myself.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that when I married my high school sweetheart, I married a very capable man. And since I’ve been married to him for my entire adult life, I have become accustomed to him always taking care of certain things.

Driving is one of them. If he’s in the car, he’s usually driving. He’s better, safer, and likes it more. As he’s getting older, he seems to want me to share the burden but I’ve come to enjoy my chauffeured status and tend to resist at every opportunity.

Driving with a trailer or a serious load in the truck bed is a no-brainer. I flat-out refuse to pull the trailer. I find the entire experience too nerve-wracking. And besides, he’s impressively good. He’s had a commercial driver’s license before. He can back a school bus into a narrow parking space with buses on either side. I’m doing good to attempt the same with the Prius.

Tying stuff down in the back of a pick-up truck is another one. He remembers all the right knots and how to tie them. He’s also stronger and thus able to ratchet stuff down better. I’ve become so accustomed to his competency in this matter, that I’ve become complacent, simply standing near the truck and handing him whatever he asks for or holding whatever he tells me to hold.

This had disastrous results earlier this year when we loaded our propane grill into the back of the truck to take to church for a cook-out. He made no move to tie it down. I had a niggling thought in the back of my mind that I should perhaps suggest doing so but then dismissed it. He knows what he’s doing. Less than two miles down the road, I found myself helping him chase down pieces of our former grill after it did a spectacular back flip over the tailgate.

And so we come to today. We had had a very busy weekend, pieces of which will likely be blogged about soon. Since we would be in southern Oklahoma on Saturday, we decided to take the opportunity to run up to the Oklahoma City area with the truck. My mom recently moved into a new house and her old refrigerator (which we love) wouldn’t fit in the new kitchen. She had offered to sell it to us and also give us the grill the previous owners had left behind.

There was just one problem. My husband woke up Sunday morning with vertigo. He then took some Sudafed on an empty stomach and that caused him to throw up. Mom, her boyfriend, my husband’s dad, and I all worked together to get the truck loaded. He spent the day in bed and when it was finally time to leave, it was obvious that he wouldn’t be driving.

I climbed behind the wheel and nervously pulled out of the driveway. My shoulders were tense and I checked the mirrors constantly. I was going to need a good table massage if I stayed this tense for the entire trip.

The first stop occurred before I made it to the highway. The tie-down strap across the fridge had a long loose end blowing around. I hopped out and tied it to itself, feeling a tiny bit pleased with myself.

The second stop occurred a few miles down the highway when I noticed that the grill cover looked like it was fraying. Sure enough, it was ripped to shreds. My husband couldn’t stand so I asked Jane to help me.

First, I retrieved a tarp and covered the grill. Then I grabbed another tie-down and wrapped it as tight as I could around the grill, pushing my feet against the tires to get it tighter. Finally, I found some bungee cords and used them to secure the tarp corners by the grommets. It wasn’t a great job, but it felt adequate.

The third stop occurred very quickly after the second. I had moved the little gas can in the back and forgotten to secure it back down. I pulled over as soon as I saw it fly out the back. My husband seemed flustered about the fact that I was stopping again.

“How badly do you want the gas can?” I asked. “I’ll have to walk back and get it.”

He said he wanted it but we got crosswise with each other. He was sick and weak. I was tense and flustered. Some F-bombs were dropped. Yes, in front of the kids. I trotted back about a hundred yards to the can, moving through tall, itchy grass. By the time I got back, my legs were itching almost as much as my poison-ivy covered arms that had been scratched during the emergency tie-down of the grill tarp (busy weekend, remember?).

My husband took the opportunity to crawl weakly from the truck to check the tie-downs. He expressed a wish for another tie-down to put around the fridge. I pointed to the one around the grill and said that I had used the last one.

“That’s not a tie-down,” he said. “That’s a tow strap.”

“Oh. Well, that would certainly explain why it was so stiff and difficult to work with!”

The fourth stop came after I worried over the loose corner of the tarp flapping on my side. The last bungee cord was put to good use then. I also removed the airport baggage claim tag from the suitcase that kept masquerading as a floppy strap-like thing I should worry about.

The fifth stop was because I noticed that the fridge had slid away from the back of the cab. A folded cardboard box had been used to protect it from rubbing against the truck but it was now flopping around. We investigated but decided it would be ok. At least for now.

By the sixth time I pulled over, he was asking “what now?!” The strap over the fridge had just come loose and I watched the heavy metal ratcheting device plummet over the side of the truck.

“I’m afraid I’m going to need your help on this one,” I said. I never have been able to master those devices.

After that stop, I actually began to relax. We stopped once more, this time for food and a potty break. My husband was starting to feel better. He didn’t get dizzy when he turned his head. He offered to drive the last hour.

I said that surely I was a better choice than someone who might still get dizzy and finished the trip, even though I really, really wanted to sit in the passenger seat and play Candy Crush. Hopefully this trip earned me some credit. Surely he’ll drive all the way to Denver next month without expecting me to spend any time behind the wheel. Right?

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