Thursday, 22 March 2012

Drama at the Doctor's

Our friend Brenda went to the doctor's the other day. Much as in the UK, you have to sit in the waiting area, wondering what you're going to catch while you're there. Unlike in the UK though, there appears to be an unwritten rule here that you use your manners to keep your place in the queue and, when you judge that it's your turn, based upon how many days, sorry, hours, sorry…minutes you've been in the queue, you get up and go in through the Doctor's door when it's your turn. Hopefully, everyone will observe this unwritten rule of etiquette. The receptionist sits in the corner of the Doctor's consulting room and simply announces over a rudimentary sound system linked to a loudspeaker in the waiting room that the next person in the queue may now go in when the doctor is ready.

Brenda couldn't help noticing that there was an elderly gentleman sitting to her right who had two walking sticks propped up either side of his chair. Since he'd already been there when she'd come in, she knew that he would be due to go in to see the doctor before her. Sadly, she noticed that, each time the receptionist's voice crackled over the speaker for the next patient to go in, by the time the old chap had struggled rather shakily to his feet, someone much more spritely than he would have high-tailed it into the doc's room before him, leading him to adopt a rather resolute air, while he slowly lowered himself back into his seat for the umpteenth time.

The more of this she witnessed, the more annoyed she began to get. Whilst she was telling us this story over a coffee in her lounge the other day, I agreed that if there's one thing the Greeks really don't like to do, it's queue. Of course, we Brits do it for a living don't we. We queue for Britain. We wrote the book on "how to queue with stoicism". We told Brenda about the many times we'd waited on a quayside to catch a ferry, all the while wondering why we appeared to be the only ones waiting on that particular day, only to find that the instant the ferry approached the quayside, hundreds of people of all shapes and sizes, some carrying cages containing live chickens and others carrying laptops, would appear as if by magic, seemingly out of nowhere, and jostle us to the rear of the crowd while they prepared to surge aboard once the crew signalled the OK.

Brenda's ire at how the other patients were evidently showing a complete lack of human compassion for this elderly man who quite obviously wasn't able to move quickly enough was piqued to a crescendo when a quite fit-looking man, with the bearing of someone who thinks that he's rather more important than anyone who was unfortunate enough to be in his near vicinity, swept into the waiting room. Talking almost incessantly into his mobile phone he sat forward on his seat, as if poised for a coup de queue, as it were.

Sure enough, no sooner had the receptionist's voice begun to announce that the next patient was welcome to approach the door to the Doctor's consulting room, when this most recent arrival arose and made as if he was going to get in next and woe betide anyone who stared him out or attempted to beat him to it. Brenda, usually not the type to make a scene in a public place, snapped. She piped up in English and what little Greek she could muster that she was thoroughly disgusted at the man's behaviour and that this poor elderly man, who'd been struggling to his feet and sitting down again for probably a couple of hours by now, was going in next and if anyone had a problem with that they'd have her to reckon with. She didn't even touch on the fact that she too had been there for quite some time by now.

Shamed, but evidently most put out by her boldness, the blustery "Mr. Important" backed down as the receptionist emerged to find out why there was a delay and saw Brenda now assisting at his elbows the man with the two sticks while he shuffled towards the Doctor's door. Once the old gent was safely inside and doubtless pouring out his woes to the Doctor, Brenda exchanged a couple of icy glances with the offender, before ruminating on what she'd done and finally deciding that perhaps she's been a little hasty. After all, perhaps this man really was pushed for time and had experienced a delay beyond his control during his journey to the Doctor's surgery this morning. Perhaps there were other extenuating circumstances about which she was quite ignorant.

She made a decision. She'd attempt to pour oil on trouble waters and give up her own place to the man with whom she'd had the "incident". "After all," she concluded, "I wasn't in any particular hurry. I had time; whereas just maybe this man did have some pressing matters bearing down on him on this particular day." She told us that she was preparing to bid him go in ahead of her and hopefully restore peaceful relations when the old guy with the sticks emerged from the door of the Doctor's room, Doctor at his side, and - exhibiting a huge grin - pointed one of his sticks at Brenda and said to the Doctor, "She's next!! She's the one who stood up for me!!"

"What could I do?" continued Brenda, "I surrendered to my fate and the burning hatred of my adversary and accepted the fruits of my earlier kindness with a degree of resolution!"


  1. Love it ! What goes around, comes around. Pat on the back Brenda, whoever you are!

  2. Good for you Brenda!!!! what a lovely story, a woman after my own heart, well done.

    Porridge Oats

    1. I always used to say that Dr. Christiaan Barnard was a man after my own heart. (Subtle that one, do you get it? I amaze myself sometimes)

  3. Oh John, just showing your age there! Lots of us (alright, them) won't know who Christian Barnard is!

  4. Do you know i was suspecting you had South "Ifrican" connections after reading your latest News and stuff article about your friend Josie's new book, (6 lines down, "disparate" ) Get it??

    Forgive me , just rambling!!

    Porridge Oats

  5. Another very interesting blog with and well done Brenda.standing up and acting when you feel justified is not always easy and to do it in another country when not speaking the lingo is very commendable.I like to think I would have acted in the same manner.thanks for the diverse subject matter in your blogs.always worth a read and reminds us of our times in greece
    and make us look forward to the next time. in my case may for 3Weeks

  6. Good on you Brenda, bet that made his day. Last year when we were on our way to Archangelos from Pefkos on a very full bus to start a walk,we had to stand up till Lindos, then when we got to Kalathos, a few Greek people got on, one being a dear little old man in his brown shirt, trousers with string for a belt, and a black bin bag again held together with string, who got the short straw and had to stand up. Seeing he was all of a wobble, I got my Good man Griff to stand up so I too could stand up and let this poor little frail man sit down, amidst looks from other passengers as if to say, are you crazy giving up your seat? and returning gazes of no I just have respect. The little old mans face broke into a smile and as he shook my hand he chattered away, nodding his head and presumably showing his appreciation (sadly didn't know what he was saying but actions speak louder. When we disembarked in Archangelos the little old man insisted on shaking both our hands, and I did understand that he said thank you very much, awhhhhhhhhh bless him. Made my day to know that I had done a good turn for the day, and as the bus pulled off, he waved to us.I would give my seat up again, even if I had to stand for the whole of my journey. Good manners cost nothing.

  7. Trevor Mcilveen24 March 2012 at 16:44

    John our doctors surgery In Kalithies is a bit ahead of yours tho not yet entered the digital age
    When you arrive , you take a numbered card from a box. Then place it back in the box when your number is called