Friday, February 07, 2014


Having given in to la febbre on Wednesday, on Thursday I reluctantly took myself to the doctor's; "reluctantly" firstly because I'm British and we carry on and secondly because of the inevitable wait that the occasion would involve.

In my doctor's surgery there is a collection of numbered metal discs on a desk by the door and a notice asking patients to take one, but no one does as this would be too much like organisation and would also limit the possibilities of social discourse. Sicilians think it is much more fun, after you have passed the time of day with all your fellow-patients individually, to look around and ask, "Who's the last one?"  L'ultimo having piped up, you know who you have to watch, and watch is what you do, for no magazines are provided and no one takes along anything to read.

If, however, one of the "patients" is wearing a suit, sitting in a self-assured way and has a bulky briefcase at his feet, you know that your wait will be even longer than usual, for this is a pharmaceutical company rep and one of these gentlemen is allowed to go into the consulting room after every two patients.  This system seems most unfair to me when there is a roomful of sick people but "Pazienza - What can we do?"  Yesterday my heart sank when I saw not one, but two self-assured gentlemen with bulky briefcases in the waiting room and summoned my reserves of hard-learned Sicilian resignation.

Just after I had arrived, a couple came in and asked the usual question, "Chi è l'ultimo?" The elderly man next to me was about to say that he was when a woman dashed in and said the honour was hers, explaining that she'd been outside.

"If you're waiting you can't be outside", said the elderly man, continuing, with unarguable logic, "because inside is inside and outside is outside."

At this everybody except me - I still felt too ill - joined in, all at the same time, of course and one patient shouted,

"Anyway, how do we know you were outside?"

That did it!

"Are you doubting my word?" asked the young woman in a horrified tone.

"No", chorused the company, "we're just saying that inside is inside and outside is outside and you should be inside because how do we know you're inside if you're outside?"

By this time the wife who had started the whole thing with her question was on the phone to her daughter, relating the incident in even louder tones than the shouting and everybody else had turned to the person next to them for confirmation that outside was outside, an assurance which was given at full volume in every case. One of the reps had completed his sales spiel to the doctor, too and, when he left the consulting room, silence suddenly fell as we all held our breath for a fight over who would go in next - the elderly man or the inside-outside woman. But Sicilian chivalry won the day:

"Si accomodi, signora " ["After you"], said the elderly man with a dignified nod of his head, looking around as if it was the most obvious course of action in the world and as if he was wondering what we were all gaping at.

Just him and one more rep and I was in, too!


Leslie: said...

I'm sure that if you hadn't felt so rotten, you would have found the whole situation hilarious, as I did reading about it. LOL Take care, Pat.

Claude said...

Your visit at The Doctors was so lively compared to mine. here in Toronto. Having moved from French Canada (where people really get animated and personal, when assembled in a waiting room) to English Canada (where people sit in dignified, lonely silence until their number is called) I feel I would very much enjoy life in Sicily.

I hope the Doctors are good, and are helping you to get well fast. Meilleurs voeux, chère Pat.

Rosaria Williams said...

I second Leslie's comment. I do hope he gave you some great meds.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Leslie. I probably would have! Glad you enjoyed the post. Hi, Claude. Very interesting to learn of the cultural differences there. Yes, feel much better. Merci. Hi, Rosaria. Yes, he did!

Betty said...

After all that I sure hope you're feeling better!

James Higham said...

inside is inside and outside is outside and you should be inside

Perfectly logical for Italians I should have thought.

Liz Hinds said...

Great story! I hope the doctor was able to help you after all that.

I too object when reps use valuable patient time. I don't know how they can allow it.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I do, thanks, Betty! Absolutely, James. Thanks, Liz. I don't know why they allow it either.

Lee said...

Not only is road rage raging, by the looks of it, so is waiting room rage!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Haha - that's about it, Lee!

Michele Boselli said...

this post is Great!
happy birthday

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Many thanks, Miss Welby.


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