Monthly Archives: January, 2016

Give Me an A for Awkward

I don’t know if you’ve figured this out yet, but I’m not very smooth. I’m not a “smooth operator.” I’m a thoughtful over thinker. I am awkward and goofy and nervous. I’m never, ever, ever, casual. I can also be oddly, amazingly, coolly confident, and freakishly brash and brave, all depending on the circumstance. But this week, Goofus was definitely the alpha personality, as I continued to navigate through my new life, which continues to be thrilling, fulfilling, scary, lonely, satisfying, challenging, confusing, joyful, frustrating and unexpected. All at once, my peeps. It’s no wonder I’m bit twitchy, this regular routine loving pup.
This week, I had my first visit to a new doctor, a dermatologist. It was an early morning visit, 8:30. So I was a pretty surprised when my cell phone rang, and it was the BFF, calling from CA at 5:30 in the morning. Alarmed I picked up the phone, but she was calling me to tell me she had booked her trip to come visit me. Excited, we chatted for a few minutes, while I waited to be called in for my appointment. When I hung up, the receptionist rather sternly asked me to turn my ringer off and refrain from using the phone. I was the only person in the waiting room, but feeling a bit scolded, I quickly complied. I was then called in to an exam room, where the nurse made a point of telling me to mute my phone. I responded that I had already done so and she left me alone in the room. At that point, I noticed the sign on the back of the door instructing patients to turn off their phones, as “even the buzz of a phone” could startle the doctor while performing “delicate procedures”. That got my mind going and I wondered what tragic amputation had taken place when the scalpel slipped, as Baby Got Back started playing from some willful patient’s purse. And I realized in horror, as the doctor entered the room, that I had merely silenced my phone and I too could be permanently maimed if an errant text should come buzzing in.
Fortunately, my phone remained silent and I left the exam room relatively unscathed. But that same stern receptionist stopped me as I was leaving and told me that I had written my name illegibly on all of my medical forms and needed to redo them. Seriously, it’s GOLD, how illegible could it be? And wouldn’t it have been kinder, after already slapping my wrist about the phone, to simply write those terribly difficult four letters on the forms in her own, what we can only presume was, impeccable penmanship? Abashed but unbowed, I carefully rewrote my name, clearly on each form, and with a grimace pretending to be a grin, backed my way out of that office.
I was recovering nicely from the office visit by the weekend. This is the first weekend in several with pleasant weather, and I had a whole host of chores and errands piled up. At the top of my list was a visit to the carwash, for the first time since I bought my car in November. As someone who used to wash their sweet Cooper every 2 weeks at a minimum, I’ve been feeling a bit shameful about letting Pearl (my name for the Subaru) get so dirty. But although we have had a fantastically mild winter (thank the Gods), there has still been regular rain or light snow, or flurries or drizzle or actual snow or mist, or frogs or toads or pennies from heaven (the latter three might possibly be poetic license) every weekend. I was never clear on what the proper protocol was for car washing in the winter climate. And believe me, I am all about proper protocol, you know I am!
So I yelped Waltham car washes and found my closest location, not too far from home. I headed out and found the place easily. But right off the bat, I was confused (again). The car washes I am used to are the full service kind, the ones where you exit your car and pay for your wash in a keen little waiting room filled with car related tchotchkes for sale, or the self-service type, where you pay your money at a little machine and drive yourself through. This mysterious Waltham car wash appeared to be some sort of strange hybrid. There were several lines, all full of multitudes of cars on this early Saturday morning, but no clear signage indicating what the lines were for. I could see a few bays with cars in them being washed, presumably by their owners, but not what I was looking for. I decided to join the longest line. Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me was on the car radio and I figured if nothing else at least I would be entertained as I inched my way. But to what? The car line looped around a building, away from the wash bays. Eventually, I saw a sign indicating this was an “auto wash” and listing various prices. As I drove closer to the entrance, I observed that there was an attendant at the entrance, but no one seemed to exiting their cars.
I finally got up to the attendant with $11 clutched in my hand for the “middle of the road” wash. Now, here comes Goofus again, because as I drove close, I tried to unroll my driver’s side window. But my car is still a little unfamiliar to me, and I kept rolling down the back window instead, as the young man peered exasperatingly at me, knocking on the window he expected me to open. I fumbled and fumbled, whoops, I honked my horn, pretty much in his startled face. Eventually I got the right window down, and he immediately said “Ultra Wash, $15.” I wasn’t sure if it was an indictment on the condition of my car or a penalty for being such a nerd, but I meekly handed it over. “You want it dried?” he asked. Well of course I did, doesn’t that come with the wash itself? Apparently not, so I forked over an additional buckaroo and he impatiently motioned me to drive into the wash. To my surprise, there were two guys with long brushes in there, and they immediately started yelling at me. I had left the back car window down, and water was pouring into the car. And of course, as I tried to raise the window, I lowered the driver’s window again. At this point I was totally embarrassed, and oh wait, they were still yelling. Car out of park and into neutral and thank goodness I was finally able to slowly drift away into the wash.
I had barely regained my composure as I exited from the wash, and then another mystery, where to get that dollar dry? I’m still confused about that, I’m used to the large blow dryers in the car wash that never really get your car totally dry but at least start the process. This wash had none, you rolled out dripping wet, and I puzzled over the folks who didn’t fork over the extra dollar, did they just drive out with a wet car and let the sun do its thing? Will I ever understand local customs? Eventually I saw the guy with the towel, who gave the car a 60 second wipe down and waved me away. It wasn’t until I reached my next destination that I saw he had barely dried the car, which was now developing spots. Poor Pearl. Poor Kathi, who quickly ran into a store, bought cloths and ran out again to give my sweet girl a proper wipe off.
Car washes shouldn’t be so confusing, right? Dermatology offices shouldn’t be so strict. It’s all about learning, new customs, new places, new moods. I’ll probably feel like a clumsy fish out of water for some time to come, and that’s okay, at least I can laugh about it, and you all can read about it. I’m sure a more graceful, and yes, smooth operator would handle it all with a few less gaffes, but what’s the fun in that? I’ll continue to stumble and bumble my way through this crazy life, enjoying the ride, at least it’s never boring.
The end, for now