I was sitting in the waiting room of my doctor’s office, trying to make the best of things by reading all the People magazines from the last two or three years. I hate going to the doctor, and this one had a waiting room that is so small that your knees practically bump into the knees of the person sitting across from you. People’s breathing takes up the whole space.

I was thinking good thoughts, though–you know, how a non-ostentatious waiting room is actually a good thing. It shows a doctor who’s not all about flash and bells and whistles, who’s more about the caring and the healing.

The receptionist opens the little glass window and looks at me and says in her loudest voice: “SANDRA? IS YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY THE SAME AS LAST TIME?”

“Yes,” I say. (Last time was eight days previously, when I went in for a physical.)

She then proceeds to read out all my insurance information for the benefit of the people in the waiting room. “IT’S UNITED HEALTHCARE…BLAH BLAH BLAH…SUBSCRIBER IS BLAH BLAH BLAH?”

Yes,” I say.

“AND YOU STILL LIVE AT THE SAME ADDRESS?”

“Yes. Same address.”

Because–who knows?–maybe I might have forgotten which address I lived at last week when I came in, or perhaps didn’t remember moving, she yells out the address, complete with the town, zip code and phone number, just to jog my memory. Was even my phone number still the same?

“YES,” I say. “It’s all still the same as it was eight days ago when I was here. Insurance, address, phone number, everything.”

She regards me for a moment and then slams the window shut.

A moment later, though, she opens the window again, and this time her attention is beamed on another patient, an unhappy woman sitting next to me, who (we’d all heard) had had a CT scan the day before and had some kind of bad reaction to the dye.

“MA’AM? MA’AM? EXACTLY WHAT PART OF YOUR BODY WAS THE CT SCAN ON??”

The entire population of the waiting room burst out laughing.