If You’re Not in the Queue

Millenium Walkway
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

“If you’re not in the queue, you won’t get served!” chirped the brunette with horn-rimmed glasses behind the counter. She said this to a perky blond in her 40s, who I assumed was from Texas. I was in England. I had just navigated my way through Heathrow down to the Underground. I was properly in the queue, waiting my turn to ask my questions and buy my tickets.

I was reminded of that philosophy today while in line at the doctor’s office. I had to set up my June appointment. When I got out of my appointment, there was a lengthy line. So, I walked, patiently, to the end of the line. I obediently stayed my distance behind folks in front of me, and I obediently waited behind the sign instructing me to “WAIT HERE.”

See, doctor offices have gotten much pickier since HIPPA rolled out in 2003. It was explained to me that the law was only adding a bureaucratic layer to what doctor offices were already doing. But, privacy certainly became much more important and at the forefront of doctor-patient-staff interactions. Forms had to be signed acknowledging privacy given and received, signs were placed instructing large personal space protections. We like our English heritage and the use of the queue.

But, some people still protest the queue. Like the woman with her son, in a wheel chair. I visit an endocrinologist for my Grave’s Disease. My endocrinologist is housed in the Arlene Schnitzer Diabetes Clinic at OHSU. We kindly refer to him as the “Bus Doctor” because there is this fabulous “bus” toy for all ages under 6. I assumed, with the lethargic, slooped stated of the boy that he was in some sort of diabetic coma.When she wheeled her son out of the office area, she neglected to get back in line opting for hovering in front of the desk – in front of the “STAND BEHIND ME” sign.

Then, the person in front of me moved away from the front desk, and I heard the gal behind the front desk politely scolded, nodding towards me, “She was waiting before you.”

When I got to the counter, the front desk gal explained that she couldn’t be rude. You don’t have to only yell at someone, though, to get a point across. I think she did okay by reminding the distracted mom that I was waiting, in the correct spot, long before her. I told the front desk gal about my London experience. She was very amused, but didn’t think she could do that.

I guess that’s why I’m fascinated with NVC now. A tool, a compassionate tool to allow us to tell people what we think. A tool that presumes reactions, room for reactions, and redressing of those reactions to clarify our original positions. A compassionate tool that allows for error assuming good intentions.

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