Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cease-fire in allergy land

If you read this blog regularly, you already know that, as the tag on this entry says, my allergy clinic hates me. To pick up my serum, which they will no longer mail to me, I have to let them administer a "vial test," i.e., let them stick me with tiny portions of each of my two serums so they can see if I react negatively. I don't. I haven't in all the years I've been taking these shots. They insist, however, on the test. To get it, I either have to drive half an hour across town or go to the place that costs me two minutes of lost driving time because it's on my way to work.

Of course I choose the close one.

The problem is, they hate that I do, because they want everyone to go to their main facility, so they've reduced the available test hours to 90 minutes a week--and not all at once. No, that would be too easy. They provide vial tests on two different days: an hour on one day, and half an hour on the other.

I was scheduled to go to the one-hour slot Tuesday morning at 8:00. Because of the snow, I couldn't get out of my driveway then, so I didn't show. I called them, but no one answered and there was no message option, so I assumed they were closed.

One of the women who works there called me Wednesday. Here's how the call went (you can tell which of us is which). In the interest of avoiding legal issues, I'll call her X and the clinic Y.

Hi, Mr. Van Name. I'm X from Y. You were scheduled to come in for a vial test Tuesday morning.

Yes, I was, but I couldn't make it due to the snow.

It was a lot of snow. [long pause] So, you didn't come.

No. I called, but no one answered, and there was no way to leave a message.

Oh, that's because we were closed that morning.
It went downhill from there. I'm proud to be able to say that at no point did I turn sarcastic or threatening; I just hung up quickly.

So, today I headed there at noon for the half-hour slot available to me.

No one greeted me. The place was open but empty.

After calling for a few times, a faint reply came from the rear of the clinic area. A few seconds later, the Chinese med tech with whom I'd argued many times in the past appeared around a corner.

He stopped as soon as he saw me.

He tilted his head and stared at me.

I stared at him.

He kept staring at me.

I kept staring at him.

I wanted in the worst way for music by Ennio Morricone to be playing and for Sergio Leone to film us in his best Once Upon a Time in the West circular, quick-cut style, but alas, I got neither.

Finally, he motioned me to come inside. He did not speak.

I entered and went to the test room.

He showed me the vials, holding them far from his body as if they were snarling beasts. "You?"

"Yes, but my address is still wrong."

He nodded. "Vial lady, she no fix. She never fix."

I couldn't argue with that, so I sat, he administered the tests, and neither of us spoke as he did his job.

"Ten minutes," he said as he set the timer.

I went to the waiting room and sat.

He came out spot on ten minutes later, checked me, nodded once, handed me the vials, and backed away, never losing sight of me until he was safely behind the thick wooden door.

I waited until he was out of sight, then left.

I consider this great progress. We've reached a cease-fire, and that's good enough for me. If the next appointment goes this well, I will not report on it.

He may hate me, but now he also either respects or fears me--and I can work with either one of those.

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