On this particular Saturday there was only Dr. Chong, Nika, Rafik and myself working. Dr. Chong had said he was only working till 1:30pm today because he had to leave to attend to some private matters, so we had only booked patients till 1pm. No patients after 1pm meant we could all sit down, relax, chat over Boston pizza and still get paid! This was the life! Oh but no life is nevthat easy.
Things started that morning, really quiet and normal and then the time struck 12pm. We were expecting Mrs. Emeka Smith and her husband Mr. Smith. They had been slotted for the 12:00pm and 12:30pm appointments, but both were late. At about 12:30pm I saw Mr. Smith peering in through the window to see if his wife had arrived. I knew it was him because they had come in the week before to look at our selection of frames and book the appointment. I waved at him as he came in to ask if his wife had arrived. He decided to go ahead with his exam so his wife could take his time slot. Dr. Chong came into the waiting area to see what was taking so long, but Mr. Smith was not in the best of shape. His hands kept shaking so he had too really take his time with everything. At 12:45pm Mrs. Smith (who is Nigerian) limped into the door. I asked her what was wrong with her leg and she said she was in pain because of the brace in her leg. It had something to do with the change in weather. We finally got Mr. Smith in and the doctor told me he would see our 1 o’clock before he saw Mrs. Smith. At that point I felt a thunderstorm brewing. If it was a movie you would see the dark cloud and hear some thunder over my head. As if on cue our 1 o’clock Hannah walked through the door and was greeted by Nika. I collected the exam fee from Mrs. Smith and started her pretests. When I was done, I told her with some trepidation that, the doctor would see Hannah before he saw her because she was late. “That’s fine” was her reply. She seemed to like me a bit, it was because we had both been to each others countries and had made a connection the week before.
I thanked her and went on to do the pre-tests for Hannah. Rafik took off for lunch, and Nika was filing some lenses in the back room.
Dr. Chong came out with Mr. Smith a few minutes later and and took in Hannah at about 10 past 1pm. In the interim Mr. Smith was ushered back to me to help him pick out his new frames. His wife naturally played an active role in looking at whatever he tried on. After a few minutes of trying on different pairs he decided on one and then we sat down to do business. We worked out the pricing of the frame, add ons, and all measurements needed from him were taken. He decided to hold off on payment so he could pay for his wife’s pair at the same time in one transaction. In the mean time we got to know each other better, talking about home, what church we attend etc. It was a pleasant chat. Just enough awkward silences here and there to keep us comfortable.
Dr. Chong walks out with Hannah and ushers her to Nika to complete the visit. He walks over to Mr. and Mrs. Smith and tells them he has to go. WHAT?! (Cue in the dark cloud with lightning this time) Are you kidding me Dr. Chong?! Was what I was yelling in my head as I smiled nervously at him. “What do you mean you have to go?” Mrs. Smith asked cautiously “ I’m sorry I was only only taking patients till 1pm today, I have some important matters to take care of outside” Oh no! is what I’m screaming in my head as I bow my head down in embarrassment. Husband and wife look at each other and then theres and awkward silence. Mr. Smith asks how long the test takes and the doc tells him it will take another 15 – 20 minutes. “ Can you reschedule? Do you have time in the week to come in?” Dr. Chong asks Emeka. “No I don’t have anytime during this week. I work” “ok” was the docs reply. After a short pause, “how about the weekend? We’re open next Saturday but not Sunday.” Emeka says she can’t do anytime this week. “ I’ve already paid for the exam and it will only take another 15 minutes, can’t you just do it?” Emeka asked in all earnestness. “ But I have to go, I’m already 10 minutes late” Dr. Chong replied with a smile. “Please I’m sure you can spare me a few minutes,” begs Emeka. Dr. Chong looks at his watch and walks away back into his office. We all think he is coming back with an answer. During this time Nika has already helped Hannah, who had already left the store. As we sit there, Emeka complains to her husband, and somewhere in there she says I shouldn’t have collected her money and done the pre-tests if I knew Dr. Chong wasn’t going to see her. I tell her that I did not know and that the doctor only told me he would see Hannah before he saw her, and that’s all I knew. She just looked at me and told me its not my fault. We sat there for about 3 minutes with a no show from Dr. Chong so I decided to go and see what he had decided on. When I got to his office…the lights were off! Oh NO!!! I look for Nika in the back and ask her where the Dr. was. She said he was talking on his phone just outside the back door. I look to see if he’s there but he wasn’t! I could just see hell was about to break loose. “Nika, he isn’t there” I tell her in a deathly calm voice.