Mind your manners, monitor your moles

Queued to sign in at the doctor's office behind a huffing older man and a mom with three little girls all in summer sundresses, matching hair bows, with butterfly-shaped iPads to start my latest medical Monday. The mother was talking calmly about how this wait would go. The girls could choose where to sit, but they would all sit together. They were here because grown-ups don't always protect their skin from the sun, and they would sit quietly until it was mom's turn to see the doctor. What a pleasure to observe this gentle instruction in patience.

Ahead there was a hold-up. The huffing man with the orange-gray hair wearing the Hawaiian shirt did not want the clipboard with forms to update. He was not a new patient. He should not have to do this. The receptionist explained about the new system, and how all patients had to fill out the forms. With a big sigh, the Hawaiian shirted huffer took the clipboard and went to a chair.

The waiting room was filling up. The oldest gentleman of all seemed pleased to be on an outing with his nursing aide to this happy place. He was sitting beneath the big screen tv, so not watching the recap of a trade advisor named Peter Navarro (with sound blessedly muted) spouting on FOX about a special place in H-E-double toothpicks for people who resist Donald J. Trump.

In the month since I was told to have a dermatologist  "monitor my moles," I've worried a lot about grown-ups like me who don't always protect their skin from the sun, about dumb choices made in my bikini days, about my parental negligence to keep my own little kids slathered in sunscreen, and about every other dot, spot, or blemish on my permanent record. Life is for those who practice prevention and early detection, so I was doomed. But my forms were filled out and printed ala pdf.

"I'm not a new patient! I should not have to fill out the *#!* forms!" The Hawaiian-shirted huffer stomped up to the receptionist. She ever so calmly explained again about the new system.

Nobody likes to fill out those forms. Nobody. But we do, and we wait staring at the Sunday interview with the blessedly-muted presidential advisor.

"THIS IS BULLSHIT! CANCEL MY APPOINTMENT! DON'T BILL ME!"  Huffer threw the clipboard back at the receptionist, and steamed out of the office. The three little girls with their hair bows were alarmed. "Sometimes grown-ups act ugly," the mom quietly told them. Sometimes grown-ups need to check their reactions and their blood pressure, we all mused.

"He's coming back," warned a younger man with a view down the hallway. I hope he's not armed, I thought.

"GIVE ME MY INSURANCE CARD AND DRIVERS LICENSE," the HUFFER demanded. But the receptionist had handed them back earlier. Patting his pockets and fuming, face red, the disgruntled jerk with orange-gray hair stormed out again.

Wear sunscreen.

© 2013-2018 Nancy L. Ruder


My tails of woe-lets

My problems are too little to be capital W Woes.  They are just woe-lets. Therefore, my tales of woe are just tails of woe-lets, especially since the doctor asked me to draw a spiral, but I thought she said spider. Well, sure, I can draw a spider, but the real problem is the ants.

What ants? The tiny ants displaced and irritable about the foundation repairs to the apartment building.

Hmm. The doctor made notes on the chart, and scheduled a hearing test, even though I have a vision appointment next week between the mammogram and the dermatologist.


I can draw spirals on the ends of my toes to look like the tails of woeful piglets. It's not so easy, though, to take toe self-photos of those tails of woe-lets.


The front end of a pig looks like a snorting button, but the tail end is a spiral in a circle. The best diagnosis is I've forgotten my problems by writing my petty piggy toe woes.

© 2013-2018 Nancy L. Ruder


No user ID, no password

"Excuse me, ma'am. Can you show me how to open this newspaper?'

The polite young man wanted to "access" the Dallas Morning News editions from April first and April fourth. He needed to write about Martin Luther King for English class, and cite the page numbers in his bibliography.

We found an empty space on the counter where we could unfold the newspaper and turn the pages. I explained he could either photocopy the news stories about MLK's legacy or scan them and email to himself. "Thanks, but I will take photos with my phone," he said. 

When he was finished taking photos he brought all the sections back to me to reassemble the issues and reshelve them in the Periodicals Room. I felt like a prehistoric flintknapper. What's black and white and read all over? Not any more.

© 2013-2018 Nancy L. Ruder