Touching 2: it’s not the Empire striking back

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I should be so lucky.

A year and a half ago I had an appointment. With a doctor. In a clinic. In a hospital. When I went to the appointment, two things happened:

  1. I was publicly humiliated by an obsolete PC and a pair of orange shoes.
  2. They sent me home. Despite the fact that I had a little slip of paper that said ‘APPOINTMENT’ on it, I wasn’t ‘in the computer’ so apparently it was wrong. Live and learn I suppose.

Last week I went back. Since it’s the middle of winter and the middle of a cold snap, I didn’t think I had much to fear from orange shoes. The evil PC? Well, I took an extremely clever engineer with considerable IT experience with me. Just In Case. And of course that meant that random comic-related flashbacks were practically de rigueur.

“The two of us side by side against the implacable foe.”
Fred the Hammer

The waiting room was pretty much how I remember it — the same furniture, the same atmosphere of boredom and unfocused dread, the same people, even. (Well, probably not the same people. They just looked the same. I’m confusing my perceptions with reality. Sorry.) And, at the far end of the room was…

the implacable foe. The PC that I was supposed to use to check in. Suddenly I understood why it felt so much like Dreadsylvania.  I advanced on my Nemesis, trying to look confident. After all, I had a secret weapon. It wouldn’t be so bad, would it? In fact, it started out just fine. The touchscreen accepted my input. It accepted my plastic card without commenting that the picture makes me look like a three-day-old corpse. It even read the data from the card. Every step of the check-in process went smoothly and flawlessly. I almost thought that bringing an IT consultant may not have been entirely necessary.


Because there was a problem. The final step. The step where you hit the last button to submit all your data and tell them you were there. The only step that matters, really.

It didn’t work.

I hit the button. Nothing. I hit it again. Nada. I hit it again and again. Bupkis. I tried different fingers. I tried a different hand.  I hit it and poked it and prodded it and swiped it and wiped it and stroked it and nudged it and got out a thesaurus and tried every verb that seemed remotely relevant.

Squat. Zilch. Zippo.

That was when Ms. Rose leaned over and touched the ‘Submit’ button. Once. Like you’re supposed to. Worked like a charm.

So on the down side, I was bested — again — by a dumbed-down PC running an application designed to be idiot proof. (I’m not sure that my inferiority complex really needs that level of care and feeding.) On the up side, though, my inadequacy wasn’t laid bare to the whole room of people who had seen it before (I’m doing it again. Sorry.). No, the only person who saw it was the one person I see more than anyone else on the face of the planet. Score.

I guess.

From there it was off to the designed-to-be-uncomfortable waiting room furniture, then the designed-to-make-you-feel-uncomfortable examination room furniture, the ice-cold instruments, the bottle full of pins to be inserted into various extremities, the other machine that goes ping, the white coats, the inexplicably-placed windows, the bludgeons. Stuff. (Not exactly as shown.) But it was all okay, because afterwards I was going to go play hockey.


We finished with just enough time to walk home, get my hockey bag and make it to the rink on time. But as I went to leave, I was presented with a form. “Give this to the receptionist” he said. I looked confused. I mean, I always look confused, but right then I looked more confused than usual. My skills at repartee weren’t affected, however: “Huh?”  “We want to get some blood.” Oh. Have I mentioned recently how much I hate needles? But, since I occasionally do what I’m told, I gave the form to the nice lady at the desk and she told me to go sit in the designed-to-be-uncomfortable furniture and someone would be right with me.

Depending on your definition of “right with you” she might even have been telling the truth, although hockey was beginning to look a little like a long shot. Another nice lady summoned me into a room where a third nice lady was assembling a frighteningly large pile of empty vials. “That’s a rather large pile of empty vials.” (I can underline the obvious with the best of them.) Apparently I was expected to fill them all. About halfway through the pile I decided that hockey was a really, really long shot. By the end it was fairly obvious that it wasn’t going to happen. My arm was too sore anyway.


I walked a couple of kilometers in twenty below weather, was embarrassed by a computer, got poked and stabbed longer than was entirely comfortable, was drained of a suspicious amount of blood and missed hockey. “This has been a bad day” I thought when riding the elevator down to the street. “Can it get worse?”

We walked out the front door. A gust of wind blew a lump of twenty-below snow off the roof. It fell seven stories and hit me in the head.

Why yes. It can.


The Author

Rose Glace is the pseudonym of nobody important.


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