Friday, January 12, 2007
Beneath the Gaze of the Buddha
I saw my new doctor day before yesterday. His office is very cool! The decor is Japanese, including a toko niche with a Buddha statue and a sumi ink painting of two sparrows on a blossom-laden branch. Lots of plants, trickling water, shoji screens. I'd go just to visit the office, even if I didn't need to see the doctor.
I'm still enjoying Oliver's small town dynamics. In Calgary it was very different. I'd go to the doctor's office where I'd gone for years. The receptionist always treated you like a total stranger, and a suspicious one at that. You could almost see her mentally sizing you up, trying to decide whether to call security or to allow you to sit in the waiting room.
Once past the guardian of the gate you sat. If you smiled or said anything to another of the waiting mass, they edged away nervously, like crabs before a wave. Never were pleasantries exchanged. It was like the waiting room for the torturer's apprentice.
One exception - one day, after a late appt when I walked out of the exam room without my prescription I had to wait until the doctor finished with her next patient. I was the only person there, even the guardian had gone home.
A man came in, and immediately introduced himself, obviously expecting me to know who he was. His name rang some sort of vague bell way back in the recesses of my dim mind. He made grand gestures and talked about the wisdom of a Tibetan monk he knew from Bhutan, who said, "Thisthisthisthis...."
We talked, or at least he talked and I said, "Oh yes," and "Really?". He kept dropping clues about his identity, and even went so far as to say, "I did xxxxxx. You've probably read of me, or seen me on TV." By then I had remembered who he was, but I am perverse. I pretended not to have a clue. This is my only remembered "friendly" encounter in that waiting room in all those years.
Day before yesterday, because I remembered my appt to be at 1:20, when it was actually scheduled for 2:20, I got to sit in my new doctor's waiting room for an entire hour. The receptionist was young and pleasant, friendly, chatty. No forms were pushed into my face. They took my health care number and left the paperwork at that.
Three physicians work from this office so people came through at regular intervals. They greeted each other, and me, and lively conversations ensued; They asked about each other's families, their health, ("What's the matter that you're here today?) told stories about neighbours, holidays and work. "I have this cough, I had surgery, I have MS, my daughter is sick, my daughter's having a baby,"
Surprisingly I was included in all this, "I love your hair!" one woman said, and she got up from her seat across the room and moved to sit beside me! "Where do you get it done. I want mine just like it."
I was questioned in a friendly and curious way, by several people, about where we'd come from, how we liked it here, where we were living, if I was "Native" - first time someone has ever recognized that I have Native blood without being told.
I was told I'd like it here, that I'm going to find it a good place to live. If I hadn't figured that out already I learned it in an hour, sitting in the doctor's office, under the beneficent gaze of the Buddha.