I’m one of those “being early is being on time” kind of people. So, when the para-transit van was dropping off a patient and blocking the driveway of my dentist, it required me to circle the block and come back. I was still early, even though I had to park down the street.
By then an elderly woman was being pushed in a wheelchair through the front doors—blocking the entrance. It was okay, I was still on time.
She checked in and was wheeled next to the last open chair in the waiting area. I sat next to her and she smiled and commented, “You look rushed.”
I looked over and smiled, “No, only wishing I didn’t need to come here for a chipped tooth.”
She nodded. I wondered where this waiting room conversation would go. I didn’t wonder long:
“I love coming here. I can lean back in a comfy chair and it’s the best waterfront view of any dentist around.” I admired her attitude. “How did you chip your tooth?” she asked.
“Flossing—which is kind of like getting in trouble for doing something good,” I replied.
“You’re young. You have a great smile, a little chip doesn’t matter. Eventually, everything wears out.”
I turned to look at this woman who’d made me feel younger on the same day I’d been at the doctor discussing osteoporosis treatment, and was at the dentist for a chipped tooth. I thanked her for her perspective—which I needed to hear. She continued:
“You have energy. Use it. Enjoy it. I’m not active anymore, and time is all I have left. But I want to use my time well.”
The assistant came and wheeled her back. I’m sure she’s going to leave the dentist’s staff just as encouraged as she left me. That’s a great use of her time. Trying to be early is a good thing. But being encouraging is an even better thing.