I learned that some people know their job so well that they actually have it scripted. While this might work in some fields, it’s not so great in a doctor’s office. How did I come to this conclusion? Well, let me tell you the story.

I had my vision checked recently by a regular eye doctor, not the guy at Costco or Wal-Mart as I’ve been apt to do in the past. I’d like to say that paying for a real eye doctor meant that said doctor and staff would have excellent “bedside manners.” This, however, was not the case.

I’d already had misgivings about the doctor whom I have seen twice for a problem I was having with my tear ducts. He was either hot (not as in hottie or anything) or cold. I mean, he could be in a friendly mood, or cool as a cucumber. On the one hand, the day I had to get my tear duct drained—he forced tears from my tear duct, which ran out my nose and onto his nicely pressed dress shirt—he was quite pleasant. On the other hand, the day I had to wait over an hour to see him (for another tear duct draining) he barely said boo and never offered an apology for the wait.

Photo by Noir Imp

So, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised with the assistant who did my eye exam. She matter-of-factly put drops in my eyes, which overflowed and messed up my mascara. Amidst the burning and the blurring, her monotone droning voice was numbing and impersonal. You might even say it was hypnotic. It was if she were running on autopilot.

“Now is it better on one… or two?”

“Two… or three?”

“Now stare at my right ear and tell me how many fingers I’m holding up.”

“Now stare at my left ear…”

I began to imagine ways that I might throw her off with some random comments like, “How long have you been doing this?” Long enough to memorize your lines? “Are all of your appointments scripted like this?” I bet you would make a great actress.

Her last question sounded more like a statement. “Now, Jennifer, can I get you another Kleenex?” she asked as I dabbed at the yellow gunk leaking from my eyes. I suspect she didn’t think I would answer at all as she was already opening the door.

“No, I’m okay with this one,” I said to her back as she exited the room.

She led me to a chair in the hallway to wait for the doctor and delivered her closing lines perfectly: “There’s one more thing I’d like you to do and that is, enjoy the rest of your day.”

I sat there for several minutes thumbing through the magazines and trying to read the print through my blurry, burning eyes. I wondered what kind of mood the doctor would be in and whether or not he would tell me I needed surgery to create a new tear duct. But maybe I should consider going to someone different, someone who’s not bipolar. As I sat there contemplating my options, the assistant finished up another exam and led the patient out to sit in the hallway. Just then, the doctor motioned me into the next room. As I was walking away, I heard the assistant say, “There’s one more thing I’d like you to do and that is, enjoy the rest of your day.”

“Why, thank you,” said the patient, as if it was the nicest thing anyone had said to her all day.