As time goes on down here, we end up learning to be a little more confident than we need to be. Or maybe I shouldn’t say than we “need” to be, but at least more than we used to be. So often as Americans we are treated like fools and ripped off by vendors and service staff that we have all developed a new defense mechanism that involves yelling a lot and being persistent in getting your way. Most of the time it works, even when it shouldn’t.
On Tuesday morning I went to the dentist to get a cavity filled (not because I had a new cavity but because I chipped away an old filling) and when I got to the dentist’s and told the secretary that I was there to see Dr. Read she looked at me a little funny. She told me that Dr. Read doesn’t work on Tuesdays and he wasn’t even in the office. When I heard this I flipped out. I was especially angry because I received a phone call the day before to “confirm” my dentist appointment for Tuesday afternoon when I had scheduled it for Monday. I was pissed off because I wouldn’t be able to catch my bus back to site if I went to the Dentist at 4 in the afternoon so she re-scheduled me for 11:30 AM on Tuesday. I stood at the front desk, irate because they changed my Monday appointment to Tuesday (a day when the Dentist wasn’t even in the office). I stared down each of the secretaries, and demanded to know which one of them changed my appointment to today but no one would come forward. They knew I was angry so they promised me they would see what they could do.
I sat in the waiting room for about fifteen minutes trying to stay as angry as I could when one of the Dental assistants came up and told me to go back to the x-ray room. The dentist didn’t know how the mix-up happened but he was going to head over from his other office to do my filling because he had finished all his other work for the morning. I felt a little better and sat around on the couch for about a half our (he got there at about 11:30, which was when I was going to have my appointment anyway). He came in and was apologetic about the whole thing and I told him it was no big deal and thanked him for coming over and doing the filling. It took about 20 minutes and after he finished he even offered me a ride back to the Peace Corps office. I thanked him but as it turned out I was done just in time to catch the 12 o’clock bus back to my site.
I don’t have any service on the way home so my phone was off, but when I got home I saw I had a message. The message was from a dentist’s office saying that I never showed up for my appointment… it turned out that I had actually made the appointment with the wrong dentist’s office on accident. Whoops.
I guess that means that this morning I walked into a random dental office, angrily insisted on having an appointment with a dentist that was not working and had him drive across town to spend 20 minutes putting in a filling. “Boy, I sure feel like an asshole” I later told Joel. He gave me some consolation by reminding me “we’re American’s; being assholes is what we do best.”