Carol is standing on her tippy-toes, so that she can make eye contact with the receptionist. So far, she’s being ignored. The woman, whose name tag reads Sheryl, is on her mobile.
‘Oh, I know,’ says Sheryl, sounding remarkably like Sybil Fawlty. So much so, that Carol looks around for Manuel or Basil.
Carol rests back on the soles of her feet. This bench is taller than most; probably so the average of height can rest their arms comfortably upon it while filling in forms. It’s quite common for Carol to face only the laminated edge in clinics. She is used to being overlooked, too; her diminutive stature sometimes leads to strangers assuming she’s a kid. Huffing with impatience, she rises again to her toes. Sheryl now has her back to the reception window.
‘And then, Bert tried to tell me she was a paragon of beauty. I mean, her? Beautiful?’
‘Excuse me,’ Carol interrupts. Her voice is cutting, like a hot knife through butter. ‘I’ve been waiting for a few minutes now. Could you consider holding your personal conversations in your own time?’
‘Gotta go, Katy. Patients are complaining,’ Sheryl says, her disdainful gaze rests on Carol. She places her phone down on the bench, clears her throat. ‘How can I help you this morning?’ Her tone is cold and biting.
‘Thank you. I’m here to see Dr Bottroff.’
‘Take a seat. He’ll be right out.’
Carol turns on her heel and takes her place in the waiting area. Her feet swing from the chair. She can hear Sheryl’s laugh from the other side of her window.
‘Bitch,’ Carol mutters under her breath. She takes a magazine, choosing not to focus on other people’s shit, and waits for her name to be called.