“Just a second” and other lies

You call your doctor’s office. A person answers, “Will you please hold?” You’re put on hold before you can answer, “No.” Someone else picks up the phone. “Hello,” you say, “I’m calling to set an appointment.” The person says, “Oh, I’m sorry, I picked up the wrong extension. Let me finish with the person ahead of you. It’ll be just a second.”

Just a second?

While on hold, infomercials play promoting the doctor’s services. You can’t concentrate on your work. As the seconds add up, you step away to watch your orange sweet potato sprout. It’s actually pretty impressive. You admire it enough to take a picture.

Watching your yam sprout while waiting on hold for a second - Caregiver Humor

Your concentration is broken when a voice asks, “May I help you?”

By this time, you forgot who you called. When reminded, you set an appointment to see your doctor.

“The doctor will see you shortly.”

One advantage of living in our safe-distancing COVID-environment is, waiting-room times are almost non-existent.

The nurse takes you through the door to one of the exam rooms. After asking you questions and updating your medical records, he takes your vitals. The nurse then asks why you’re seeing the doctor. As he walks out the door, he says, “The doctor will see you shortly.”

At first, you’re still sitting on the exam table. Soon, you grow uncomfortable and fidget as the paper makes crinkly noises. You think about sitting in the doctor’s chair. Except, in these COVID times, the doctor’s chair is facing the wall… a likely hint not to touch it. You pace. The minutes pass slowly. You look at your phone, but the Internet connection is weak. You look around the room and start reading the same posters you’ve read before. Finally, you wonder, should I give into temptation? What’s behind those cabinet doors and inside the drawers?

Define shortly.

Shortly. There’s really no time-bound dictionary definition for this word. Perhaps, the nurse could have said, “The doctor will see you in a thrice.” At least, you’d be occupied wondering what the heck is a thrice? Who uses such a word? Hmmmm. Once. Twice. Thrice?

You hear the doctor’s voice outside your door and get yourself situated on the exam table only to hear him greet another patient in the room next to yours.

The nurse could have said, “The doctor will see you, later.” That could be tomorrow for all you know.


People who use these words are lying! Don’t believe when people say, “just a second” or “see you shortly.” 

“Just a second” plus 1,499 more seconds, while you watch more of your sweet potatoes sprout!

Shortly should mean within five minutes; preferably two or three. Instead, it has ranged from 20 minutes to 2 hours! Once, I waited for a neurologist for almost two hours. The front office neglected to let the patients know he was called to the hospital for an emergency. I had enough. I left.

Am I taking things too literally?

When we communicate, I can only take you at your word. Until I am able to read minds, I’m limited to what you say and how you express yourself.

There’s more, but I’ll stop, here. You’re welcome to read about two of my other language pet peeves.

The post “Just a second” and other lies first appeared on The Caregivers Voice.

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