“We have a problem in front of our apartment building. There is a crosswalk, and there are parking spaces, and they overlap. It’s a busy area, and often the parking spaces are full, so people park in the spaces on the crosswalk. But lately the police have been giving tickets to the people parked there – notably me. (Cue lots of sad music.) I got three tickets. I wrote three nasty   very nice and polite letters protesting and saying I wouldn’t pay. Yesterday, I got a letter saying my objection had been denied, but, if I really wanted to plead my case, I could in front of the police tribunal here in  Mantes. I wrote back saying I’d be delighted to be there, and to count on me. With photos. Maybe even a film of me trying to cross the crosswalk and no one stopping, including a police car. (Fade to my middle finger pointing at rear of car…) At any rate, if anyone wants to come bail me out after, that would be nice. I will try to remain calm, dignified, and perhaps with a slightly apologetic “but officer, the parking spaces are There!”

On another subject, I work in an orthodontie office, we put braces on kids’ teeth, but also adults. Most of our patients are nice – we are a reputable office and dentists send their difficult cases to us because the doctor is top. But today we had a patient in a bad mood, who wanted braces on the bottom “Now“, and when we put it off for in two weeks, she threw a royal fit. Note to patients – do not threaten to find another doctor unless you really mean it, and don’t, for one instant, think that you will get a refund for payment already given. It’s not going to happen. When we put braces (especially the transparent, ceramic kind) it’s a big investment. Your hissy fit is not going to make us want to treat you, and you’re not getting your money back, even if you beg us to take off the braces. The braces will come off – but that’s it.  (Stay tuned to the next installment of ‘The Difficult Patient’).

More about today: it’s hot. It’s about 95° in the shade, humid – and there is no air conditioning in France. Right now the office is packed. Four patients (a family of four) have arrived early and there is not a free seat. One patient is even stuck standing. I’m too polite to say anything to the early birds – such as, “Can you go back outside and wait for your correct time which is one hour from now?” Although I’d really, really like to. What’s worse is, I really like this family. They are very, very nice. And now 4 more people have just arrived and it’s the end of the worldNote to patients – Come when it’s your time. Not before. Not after. Just be on time.

Horrible patient update: She came back with hubby in tow, planted herself in front of me in the middle of the crowded waiting room, shoved a patient aside, and started yelling that she was changing doctors and she wanted her money back.  Me: (Smiling) “Please come with me”. (Stand up, go to patient, usher into private office. Close door.) Patient: If I don’t get my checks back I’m going to sue. Me (thinking you’ll lose, but I just want to get rid of you.) Goes to see Dr, Me (whispers) “Can we get rid of this one now?” Doctor : “with my blessing. Giver her what she wants and ciao.” So I did. I gave her back the checks she made, gave her an appointment to remove the braces. Smiled. Smiled some more. Patted husband on back, as if to say “so sorry you are yoked with this one.” Said a cheerful goodbye. I was sad thrilled to see them go. We’re taking bets as to whether or not she’ll come back, or if she’ll run off with her mouthful of very expensive braces. 

What was nice, was that all the patients who had been waiting, shook my hand as they left, (especially the early bird with his four kids…)