I tend to see humour in strange places.
No, by “strange places” I don’t mean Timbuktu, or Zzyxx or Gogogogo, or even the United States of America.
I mean that any situation I find myself in is always inexplicably hilarious. Someone slips on a banana peel. I laugh. I slip on a banana peel. I laugh. My grandmother slips on a banana peel. I laugh. The scientists working on the CERN supercollider ask me to stop laughing because it’s distracting them. I laugh. But maybe that’s just because I’m a rebel.
But the most inappropriate laughter is that which is engendered at the doctor’s clinic.
The Clinic is, undoubtedly, the worst place to be laugh. That’s why the number of stand-up comedians performing at hospitals is dwindling (“Why aren’t you laughing? Did you break your humerus? Ba-dum-tiss!”).
But there’s no other way to put it; the Clinic is a microcosm of the world. Every shade and hue of every character that exists in the vast and wonderful world can be found in your nearest clinic waiting room, either flipping through the latest issue of Vogue or trying desperately to get the toaster off their hand so that they can flip through the latest issue of Vogue or throwing the latest issue of Vogue at the head of their child, whose (insert body part of choice) is stuck in a toaster, in a manner of negative reinforcement.
Here are a few you may chance upon:
The hypochondriac is instantly recognizable, because he (I’m going with “he” because Mushroom Sup’s Special Survey has very scientifically concluded that 7.65 of every 10 hypochondriacs is male) will be the only one reading the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology instead of Vogue, and diagnosing himself with symptoms of pregnancy. He is also the only one wearing gloves and a facemask. He will look around suspiciously every time someone sneezes, or breathes, or displays the slightest sign of life. The receptionist recognizes him as soon as he walks in, and refers to him affectionately by a nickname, generally along the lines of “Honey”, “Sweetie” or “WHY ON EARTH IS THIS &@#! BACK AGAIN?!”. This will be his fifth visit to the Clinic this week. It’s only Monday.
Beware: Don’t sit in the special “spot” he’s reserved for himself – it’s close to the window so he doesn’t accidentally die of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Child with Random Body Part stuck in Random Household Appliance
This is most certainly the happiest patient in the clinic. A vacuum cleaner stuck to his ear, he appears to be immensely pleased with himself. He comes over and proudly shows it to you, while his older sister takes pictures of him which he will put on Instagram when he is older, tagging them #Throwback Thursday and captioning them “It’s the Ear of the Vacuum” – which will get 500 likes because everyone likes a good pun. It almost makes you want to stuff your ears into a vacuum cleaner.
Beware: If you find yourself strangely attracted towards electrical appliances, channel this energy productively and bake a cake. It’s oven-win situation.
The Mother of the Child with Random Body Part stuck in Random Household Appliance
On the other side of the spectrum, this is certainly the unhappiest patient in the clinic. She has a child who thinks putting his ear in a vacuum cleaner is nothing short of brilliant, PLUS he’s destroyed her favourite vacuum cleaner. She will feel an interminable urge to explain to everyone the EXACT sequence of events that led to her current pitiable state. Except there’s no good way to explain how and why your child put a body part in a cleaning appliance. The story will involve a dog, and a trampoline. Well, at least that’s what my mother told them.
Beware: Might ask you to hold the child down while she attempts to pull off the appliance.
The Doctor-sans-certification is an improvement on the traditional hypochondriac. No longer is she afraid of contracting an illness; she has now taken it upon herself to diagnose others, prescribe a course of treatment and offer psychological counselling to deal with the trauma of illness. She is likely to be found hovering about outside clinics rather than inside them, whispering, “Psst, want a diagnosis?” She preys on hypochondriacs – he thinks he’s pregnant? She’ll tell him to expect triplets, and then ask to be their godparent.
Beware: Might try to sell you drugs. “Medicinal, of course.”
If the Im-patient were a personality type, they’d be an ISTJ because they’re the most common. They hate the wait for the Doctor, and will constantly jump out of their seat to ask the receptionist, “Is it my turn yet?” even though their number is “73” and the doctor is still trying to save the life (the universe, and everything) of Patient Number 42. The pages of Vogue won’t hold their attention for long, and soon enough they’ll be wreaking havoc, throwing vacuum cleaners at eager children, sneezing in faces of hypochondriacs and buying aspirin by the gram.
Beware: If I live anywhere close to you, stay away from your local clinic unless you want a vacuum cleaner on a body part of your choosing.
If this were one of those apocalypse movies, the receptionist would be the one who single-handedly saves the world from annihilation. She may be cursing you audibly under her breath, but she is prepared for anything – from the hypochondriac’s request for sanitized Vogue magazines to the electrical-appliance-child’s request for a selfie to the im-patient’s request for an easily disposable murder weapon – and with a huge, slightly terrifying smile. She knows exactly how to deal with every sort of Waiting Room emergency, be it an aspirin overdose or a homicide (in both cases, the appropriate response is to keep calm and carry on, unless she’s committed the homicide, in which case, lol).
Beware: If the receptionist loses her patience, you know you’re doomed. Bring out the earthquake supplies – and hide them from the hypochondriac.
So the next time you go to the Doctor’s clinic, keep an eye out. Or a ear.
Unless there’s a vacuum cleaner around.