Do you dread the making of appointments? The booking in of things? The holding and holding and drifting off to the nowhere place while all the ‘press 2 to speak to an operator’ is happening and then having to listen to it all again and feeling immediately furious. The dealing with the receptionist and working out how nice/nasty/pushy/cosy/chatty/chilly to be? When calling a restaurant that you suspect will be fully booked, should you be grand: Do you know who I might be one day? Or should you be humble and pleading: Oh, gosh I’d be so grateful, I never get to go to places as nice as yours? Will grandness impress or irritate? Will begging ignite kindness or contempt?
One Midult recently had to call a very distinguished psychiatrist’s unnecessarily intimidating secretary to ask when her appointment was. She lied and said she’d lost her diary because she though that made her sound less mad than if she had admitted to not knowing where the hell she’d written it down or if she’d written it down at all.
Who are we when we make appointments? We are our most municipal selves. We start saying things like ‘D for Delta,’ which is surely not who we are but anything to speed up the dreary spelling out of names and emails, the repeating of telephone numbers and postal addresses; vaguely trying to hide extreme impatience with a kind of saccharine briskness. And all the while you are trying to look at the calendar on your phone while talking and inevitably plugging the time in wrong so that you end up being the nutty woman calling the shrink to ask when her appointment is. And you only have a bit (quite a lot) of anxiety but now you know that the lady on the other end of the phone has put a note by your name saying, ‘Clearly not coping’.