I brought Max to the dentist this morning. His appointment was for 8am, which is good because it is the first appointment of the day which means you don't have to wait, right? Well, that is what I thought and was getting more and more pissed as the minutes ticked on…8:06…8:11…8:16. I told my husband that I would give them until 8:20 and then not only were we leaving, but I was going to give them a piece of my mind. Dammit.
At 8:20 I put down my Good Housekeeping and swaggered up to the counter. The girl behind the desk looked like a monster to me. Had you asked me to describe her, I would have told you she had beady yellow eyes and I would have intimated she had some personality disorder. "We're leaving. This is ridiculous! We are the first appointment of the day and we are waiting for 20 minutes! I have to go to work, my son has to go to school. Just cross us off the list. We're in a recession for Christ's sake! I can find a new dentist faster than I could brush my damn teeth."
I know I rambled on with some more obnoxious things that I had been rehearsing in my head for the past 20 minutes. No doubt I mentioned that dental care is the first thing people drop in a recession and I can only pray to God I did not mention that dentists have an unusually high suicide rate.
I got a calm blank stare back from the girl behind the counter. She placidly looked at her computer screen and told me my appointment was for 8:30 not 8:00. She also told me their first appointment of the day is always 8:30 not 8:00. Just as I was about to respond, the other nurse called Max into the dentist's office, so I just walked away from her and into the dentist office.
Max jumped up in the chair and the lady was very nice to him. He showed her the DVD he was carrying (yes, some kids carry stuffed animals and blankets, my TV junkie carries DVDs) and explained to her who Caillou is and why he is so awesome.
I just stood there feeling like a giant ass hole.
After about 5 minutes, once Max was settled in the chair, I walked back to the receptionist desk and up to the monster behind the desk. Upon further inspection, she indeed did not have beady yellow eyes and that personality disorder I thought I saw was actually a detached calmness.
"Um, I just wanted to apologize for my snarky attitude earlier. I am sorry I was so rude." I wanted to go on about how they must have told me the appointment was for 8:00 and it really was their fault, but at that moment, a power greater than me blessed me with the gift of brevity, or what I like to call, "the-shut-the-fuck-ups."
She smiled, and said it was ok. Again, I mumbled some more "I'm sorrys" and ambled back to the dentist chair.
There, the dentist had arrived and started raving about Max, "What a great kid. He's so good and his teeth are wonderful."
I was being tortured. I had just acted like a complete fool and these people were being so nice to me. They were killing me with kindness. Bastards!
Finally, I broke, and started smiling and laughing and cracking jokes with the dentist and the nurse. When we went to pay, I felt compelled to once again apologize to the other nurse at the desk. She laughed and said I was certainly not the worst they had seen. Still, I said it was not nice of me. And she smiled that kind of smile that says either "I forgive you" or "I will make your life a living hell the next time you come back." I don't know for sure which one it was, but it doesn't matter.
I learn lessons every day that I open my mind and heart. If I can get my ego and my pride to pipe down, I can actually open myself up to the reality that I am no better and no worse than anyone else on the planet. And that I make mistakes- I put the wrong time down on the calendar, I jump to conclusions, I bark at people when I shouldn't.
But the biggest lesson I have learned in my life is that I can, on the spot, change my behavior and my attitude. I can tell someone, a stranger, that I am sorry for acting like an ass hole.
And then, I can start the day over right on the spot.
I like this growing up business.