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Apr 3, 2024

Professional Advice about Professionals: Wait for It!

Why their time is so much more valuable than ours. Not

By Ed Goldman

One of my favorite westerns is “The Professionals,” a hardscrabble tale of soldiers of fortune who get hired to retrieve a rich man’s allegedly kidnapped, much-younger wife.

One of my least favorite activities is meeting with professionals—physicians, dentists, ophthalmologists, CPAs, insurance agents, lawyers and hairdressers.

Edgy Cartoon

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Please understand I personally like all of the people filling those roles in my life. I just get antsy before and during my professional encounters with them. And sure, if I get bad news, after my encounters with them. There may be no greater anxiety building block than, “I’d like you to get some tests.”

Well, maybe one: awaiting the test results. You’re promised you’ll receive them by Friday. They don’t arrive. Friday comes and goes, leaving you a full weekend to descend into the pits of paranoia.

To be fair, this doesn’t happen that often with dentists. They take and read your X-rays While ‘u’ Wait, as they used to say in ads for far less onerous outcomes, like getting a rush job on prescription sunglasses because you were catching a red-eye to Fallujah. 

Waiting for test results is one thing. Waiting in an outer office or inner office for periods of slightly less than an eternity is quite another. I recently went to see my family doctor for an easy-peasy follow-up visit. I was told to arrive 15 minutes ahead of my scheduled 2 p.m. appointment. I did, and to my delight was ushered into an examining room at 1:55 p.m. The medical assistant took my blood pressure and temperature then said the doctor would be right in.

Forty minutes later she knocked on the door. 

In that amount of time I’d memorized every flyer on the office’s walls (a quick job: there were two), watched every car and truck zip by a few stories below on Interstate 80, marveled at how tall some of the palm trees were which threatened to scrape the office’s outer walls (note to Hollywood: You could shoot a commercial set in Miami from this particular clinic window) and noticed a clever sign for a Jamba Juice smoothie emporium (but forgot it by the time I sat down to write this). I also watched a guy with a great head of thick, black hair flowing behind him in his wake jog by—then jog back, the return trip causing his hair to blow into his face.

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No mention was made of my wait nor any attempt at an apology. I get that. In the past five years, I’d rescheduled perhaps five of my medical appointments, though only one on the actual day it was to take place, which would make me seem sensitive in some cultures (various agars, for example).

The appointment went well once we got my blood pressure down to he’s-not-dead-just-rattled numbers (I believe this is an actual medical category). Those of you who suffer from white-coat syndrome know whereof I speak. I’m so bothered by white coats I can’t even speak to milk delivery people or attend summer soirees in the Hamptons. At least I imagine so. I don’t have milk delivered and have never been invited to the Hamptons. (Well, wait. I had some neighbors in the Bronx named Hampton when I was in first grade. Their son Donald and I spent a lot of time together when he wasn’t at Catholic School and I wasn’t at P.S. 106. But I digress….)

One bonus of the visit was my receiving flu and COVID shots. Sure enough, by the time I when I went to bed that night I had the flu. I wish it would’ve presented itself earlier. The symptoms were mild but why’d I have to wait?

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).