September 15, 2006

A Play A Day #155

The Doctor Will Be With You In A Moment

Mr. Bauer
Ms. Arlington
Mr. Blankman
Ms. Auster
Ms. Bauer

Setting: Hospital; reception desk and waiting room.

(Amaris enters, and approaches the reception desk.)

Amaris: Hi, yes, My name's Amaris Sistern. I... uhhh... have an appointment at 10 with Dr. Bother. (pronounces it as if it rhymes with "snow fur")

Receptionist: It's Baa-ther.

A: What... oh.. yes. Dr. Bother... (try to make light) Hope it won't be! Huh?!

R: Won't be what?

A: A bother. (trying to get R to chuckle)

R: (deadpan) That was very original. Dr. Alan Bother; yes, it is A. Bother.

A: Oh, hey. Neat. Sort... sort of... uhhh... yeah... um... I have an appointment, with... him. 10... 10 a.m.

R: Here are your admittance forms, please fill out this, this, this, this, both of these, take this test, waive all civil liberties here, sign these, initial here, draw a picture of a clown in the wilderness here, leave a DNA sample here, here and here, toothpick provided, fingerprint here and here, write an essay on the evils of national health care here and then return these forms to the receptionist.

A: Really?

R: There's a reason we ask you to arrive two and a half hours before your first appointment. Get busy now! Chop chop!

A: Oh... alright. (takes the mass of forms and sits down, takes out pen and starts filling them out)

(Mr. Bauer enters, ordinary-enough looking man, who ocassionally starts shaking horrifically)

R: Hello, Mr. Bauer. (Mr. Bauer shakes horribly for about ten seconds) Got the old quakes again I see. (Mr. Bauer nods) Now, you nodding that head, or is that head nodding you? (she laughs) Have a seat; the doctor will be with you in a moment.

(Mr. Bauer turns to sit down, shakes violently, then sits, Amaris is furiously filling out endless forms, looking overwhelmed by the work, Ms. Arlington walks in, very, very slowly. I don't think you realize how slowly I want Ms. Arlington to move here; so, let's just say, umm... maybe two to three feet every minute, depending on the size of your stage)

R: (sees Ms. Arlington coming, stands up and shouts at her) Whoa! Watch out everyone! Here comes your pole position winner for the seventy-fifth year in a row! Any day now, Ms. Arlington. You know what? Here... here... I'll just give you your paperwork, don't move too fast now, I might miss you! (she darts out toward the inching Ms. Arlington, hands her the papers and turns her toward an empty chair in the waiting room) Better hurry to your seat, Ms. Arlington! Climate change is a-coming, and it might be under water soon! (heads back to her desk)

(Ms. Arlington inches toward an empty seat for the rest of the play)

A: (going to R's desk) Hello... yes...

R: Do you have an appointment, ma'am?

A: Yes, I'm filling out the forms now.

R: Forms?

A: The forms you gave me.

R: I'm sorry, ma'am, that must have been someone else. (She immediately starts changing her hair, and put on a pair of glasses)

A: What? Uhh... but you... you just... uhhh... you just gave me all these...

R: I'm sorry, but I've never seen you before in my life.

A: What... no... no... you just gave me all these forms and...

R: I'm sorry, but I just came on shift here thirty seconds ago, perhaps it was the previous receptionist?

A: Wha... No... it was you...

R: Tall, gorgeous woman, doesn't look a day over twenty-five?

A: Yes... I mean... no, it was...

R: She's quite a looker; I'm so jealous of her.

A: I got them from you, and...

R: Extremely smart too.

A: You just changed your hair and put on...

R: (stage whispering, conspiritorially) Just bewteen you and me; I've heard she great undeer the covers too.

(Mr. Bauer shakes himself out of his chair, climbs back in, shakes some more)

R: Calm down there, Mr. Bauer. I'll be sure to let her know how you feel.

A: Please, can I just get some crayons?

R: Crayons?

A: Yes, I need... I need to draw the clown.

R: Excuse me, "clown"?

A: The clown... in the wilderness?

R: What clown?

A: The one I'm supposed to draw (pause, pause, pause) in the wilderness?!

R: Perhaps, you should be in the psychiatric wing?

A: No, I...

R: Plenty of clowns in the wilderness over there, so to speak.

A: Listen, you just told me to fill out... to fill out... (heads toward her seat to retieve papers, R changes back to orignal self while A's back is turned) all of these forms, and.... and... and... (noticing that she changed back)

R: Yes... fill them out, yes...

A: You remember now?

R: I never forgot.

A: The clown?

R: In the wilderness?

A: Yeah, you told me to draw a clown in the wilderness, and...

R: Yes, federal regulations.

A: Oh... federal... really?

R: Oh yes.

A: Well, I need some crayons.

R: Sorry, no crayons allowed.

A: What... but...

R: People might eat them.

A: I... I wouldn't eat them...

R: That's the law, ma'am.

A: The law?

R: Federal law prohibits the drawing of a clown in the wilderness with writing implements which may be tasty and/or digestable.

A: But, I'm an adult, and I think...

R: I don't write the laws, ma'am. I simply enforce them on the ground. It is my duty as a receptionist.

A: Right, but...

R: Your clown may be drawn with pen, pencil, or felt-tip marker, provided said marker is not one of those sniffy-ink types which may lead to attempted ingestion.

A: This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard!

R: I'm sure it could be worse. Please return to your seat, ma'am; I have patients waiting to be receptioned.

A: (turns around) No, you don't. There's no one else here.

R: (starts talking around A) Welcome, Mr. Blankman; good to see you're looking better. (grabs imaginary paper from Mr. Blankman) Thank you, this all appears to be in order; so have a seat, and the doctor will be with you in a moment.

A: (who has been standing a little to the side, turns more directly toward R) What was that?

R: I'm sorry, ma'am; I'm not allowed to answer personal questions about our patients.

A: Mr Blankman, I mean. You said his name right in front of me.

R: Ma'am, it is against federal law to eavesdrop on conversations between a health care professional and his/her patients.

A: But, you're speaking loudly and clearly, how can I not eavesdrop.

R: I don't intepret the laws, ma'am; I simply enforce them on the ground.

A: Right, right, I heard.

R: Please take your seat, Ma'am, and continue drawing your federally-mandated monochromatic clown in the wilderness.

(A turns and goes to sit in her seat, she turns around and starts to sit)

R: (with alarm) Ma'am! No!!

(A jumps forward)

A: What? What?!

R: Mr. Blankman!

A: What?

R: I don't think, cute as you may think you are, that Mr. Blankman wants you sitting in his lap.

A: (indicating her former seat) Here? But I was sitting there?

R: You got up; this is not kindergarten class, Ma'am.

A: But...

R: Now, find a new chair and draw your clown.

A: I... (she decides not to protest, sits in a new chair)

(long pause as we watch A try her drawing, she is very animated in her drawing style, trying to get it just right)

A: (to R's desk) Ummm... excuse... excuse me.

R: (looking right at her) Can't talk.

A: I was just wondering if I could use like a second color of pen... non-edible... to kind of flesh out the shading and depth in my picture... (long pause, R stares right through her) of the... the clown... in the wilderness... (same non-response from R; A tries showing R the picture thus far) See... I, uhhh... I put a full oak tree ... in the... in the... uhhh... the background and I really wanted to add a second color to... to... (R shows nothing) Alright, this is ridiculous! I find this treatment to be very rude! I can't believe that you'd just... just, you know... sit there!! And not respond to me!! (Mr. Bauer shakes uncontrollably violently again) I ... I want to file a complaint! This is so mean! (she storms back to her seat) Unbelievable!

(long pause, during which she gets the idea to poke at Mr. Blankman, she makes a quick, sharp jab at the area where he would be)

R: (under her breath, disguised as Mr. Blankman's voice) Ouch!

A: (pointing at R) Ha! I knew it! I knew it! (dashing to the desk)

R: What? You knew what?

A: There's no Blankman!

R: Yes, there is, and he's not happy that you just poked him with your pen. That was pretty damn mean of you.

A: Me? Me?! What about you?!! Sitting there when I was just talking to you! Pretending you didn't here me!

R: I heard you just fine, ma'am.

A: What!? All the more rude! To just dit there, and I just wanted...

R: Permission to subvert a federal law about monochromaticism in the clown in the wilderness drawing?

A: Yes!

R: You admit it then?

A: Sure, why the hell not?! And you just sat there, pretending not to notice me!!

R: I will not abet a federal crime, ma'am. I'm a receptionist.

A: It wasn't a federal crime! I was... well... uhhh... was it?

R: Oh, yes.

A: Why didn't you just say something then?

R: I was on my break.

A: What?

R: Fifteen minutes, twice a day.

A: But that was only like two minutes, and why are you taking a break at the desk?

R: Federal regulations.

A: That you have to take your break at your desk?

R: No, that your fifteen minute break must be taken within two minutes.

A: Ohh, ahhh, wait... they can't do that, can they?

R: I don't nake the laws, ma'am; I only (overlap with A) enforce them...

A: (overlap with R) Enforce them, right.

R: ... on the ground.

A: So, you just sit there... for two minutes, not responding to anything?

R: It's a power break.

A: Ohh. Soooo, can I use a different color?

R: No.

A: Ohh... uhhh... right, okay.

(A returns to her seat, Ms. Auster walks in, very quickly, with anger and great strength, she is manly in many ways)

R: Hello, Ms. Auster! (Ms. Auster slams here fist into the desk, R quietly hands her a form) Glad to see the testosterone is really kicking in! Please take a seat; the doctor will be with you in a moment.

(Ms. Auster grabs a chair, tuns it backward sits down heavily and glares at A who is cowering behind her paperwork. A quietly tales out a tothpick and scraps the inside of her cheek and rubs it on a piece of paper, repeats process two more times on two more pieces of paper)

(Ms. Bauer walks in; she is walking slowly and very bow-legged. She makes it to R's desk, whispers something inaudible to R.)

R: Yes, Ms. Bauer?

(Ms. Bauer whispers again)

R: Just last night.

(Ms. Bauer whispers again)

R: Well, that Mr. Bauer sounds like quite the lively one.

(Ms. Bauer whispers again)

R: Blisters? On the inside?

(Mr. Bauer shakes very violently this time)

R: Yes, I can see why. Well, you just have a seat, Ms. Bauer; we'll have you airing out in no time!!

(Ms. Bauer walks with pain and sits next to her husband, who starts shaiking violently again. This, unfortunately, is the same chair that Ms. Arlington has been walking toward for the whole show. She"quickly" veers off course and heads for a different chair.)

Ms. Arlington: Damn!

A: (to R's desk, R quickly changes her hair again - in a different way this time - and puts on a different pair of glasses) Ohh... no, you don't! I'm all done!

R: Excuse me?

A: With the forms, the filiing out, the drawing, the DNA, the fingerprints, everything! All! Done!

R: Forms?

A: Yes! Stop it! I know it's you! Pretending... pretending not to be you!

R: Ma'am?

A: Ha! Even sounds like you!

R: I would hope I sound like me, ma'am.

A: Not you... the you that your pretending not to be! The other you!

R: If I'm an other you, then I must not be the other you you think I am, right?

A: No! Wait... uhhh... no, no, no! You have to be the other you!

R: Then who am I, ma'am?

A: You're you!

R: I thought I was the other you.

A: Well... you're not... but you are... you're both! That's it! You're you and you're the other you you're pretending not to be!

R: Sure... ahhh... can I ... help... you with something?

A: So you admit it!?

R: No, I'm just tired of you thinking I'm me and not me and someone else too.

A: Welll.. listen... I'm done with the forms.

R: O.K.... great.

A: Here they are.

R: What am I supposed to do with these?

A: I don't know! Why would I know?!

R: Because you gave them to me.

A: But this is your job.

R: No, actually, I don't work here.

A: C'mon, stop ... why are you doing this?

R: I'm not doing anything; isn't that why you're complaining?

A: Yes, but you're supposed to be processing my forms and telling the doctor that I'm here!

R: Ohhh... so you lied to me?

A: What? No! I finished these forms! And...

R: It sounds like you know exactly what to do with them.

A: Huh?

R: You just said you had no idea what to do with these forms...

A: But...

R: ... now you say I have to process them and tell the doctor that you're here.

A: Yeah, but I...

R: Well... I guess you're kind of a problem patient, hmmm?

A: No! No! No! I just want to see the doctor!

R: Please take your seat, ma'am, the doctor will be with you in just a moment.

A: But... I just want to see... (lowers her head to the counter, R quickly changes back to original self)

R: The doctor; yes. I see you've completed all your forms... although... this is not a very good clown in the wilderness, you are in desperate need of help with your shading techniques...

A: (looking up) You?! You're back.

R: Sorry, ma'am. I never left.

A: But...

R: I'll just start processing these forms and tell the doctor that you're here.

A: But...

R: Please take your seat, and be kind to Mr. Blankman this time. The doctor will be with you in a moment.

(A very slowly turns and shakes her head as she returns to her seat.)

R: (taking the huge pile of forms and turning and throwing them, messily and with glee, into a large box, then she laughs a bit to herself, stands up and announcs to all the patients) The doctor will see you now.

(All the patients get up, Ms. Arlington begins to slowly change direction, they walk off-stage to the doctor's office. A observes and starts to follow, but stops at the desk)

A: Wait... wait! What... what is this? What's going on?

R: Yes?

A: Why are they all walking back there?

R: The doctor will see you now.

A: Yeah, but why...

R: All of you.

A: At the same time!!?

R: Gotta get'em in and get'em out.

A: At the same time?!!

R: Make more money this way. He usually gives them all the same prescription, you know, whatever antibiotic still works; then he has more time fill out forms.

A: But, they're going to be doing private... things...

R: Yeah?

A: That one woman... they're going to... uhhh... check her out, you know... uhhh...

R: Under the hood?

A: Ummm, yeah.

R: Maybe, I can't tell you private information like that, ma'am.

A: But, you said it loud and clear just a few minutes ago.

R: Breaking federal laws again, huh?

A: And then I'm going to be in the same room with her... during the... examination?

R: Beats me... maybe you'll go first.

A: I don't want to go first!

R: Well, then you can help with the other patients.

A: I don't want to help with any other patients. I want to have a private appointment to talk about private, health-related issues with a doctor... a good doctor.

R: Well, you certainly do like making demands, don't you?

A: No, I think it's perfectly reasonable to expect privacy when you're dealing with private issues like your health.

R: Is 'private' the only word you know?

A: No, I just...

R: Listen, time's wasting, at the rate you're going Ms. Arlington is going to beat you in for the appointment.

A: I'm not going in to that appointment!

R: Suit yourself. Still costs you two hundred dollars.

A: For what?

R: Missing a scheduled appointment. Plus all the paperwork processing fees.

A: This is so completely unbelievable! Where do I complain about this!?

R: Fifty dollars.

A: Fifty dollars?! For what?!

R: Complaining.

A: What?!!

R: Processing fee.

A: That's absurd.

R: You don't want to complain then?

A: No, I'm complaining, damnit!

R: (Reaches behind her, pulls about 6 feet worth of newsprint off a large newsprint roll, tears it off, hands it to A) Here you go. That's your complaint form. Write your complaint at the top, try not to write more than two paragraphs, please, then trace the outline of your body, and gather at least one hundred signatures, getting each notarized, then return it to our rooftop complaint box between the hours of 11:45-11:55 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month. You should hear back from our complaints department within a year.

A: Wha... this... you can't be serious... I... listen... just give me the phone number for...

R: No phoning allowed, ma'am.

A: What... no! I'm not listening to this; just give me the damn phone numbers for the hospital president and board of directors, now.

R: Sorry, ma'am. Federal law. No phone numbers.


R: (ducks beneath her desk, hollering) Security! Security! Security!

(A looks around, mad but worried, R pops back up looking a like a different person again, different than the other two "different" receptionists. New hairstyle, new glasses)

R: Hello, can I help you?

(A can only look at her in astonishment, a look of grave distress in her eyes)

R: Oh! I see you have a complaint form. Did you need a pen for tracing your body?

A: (pause, looks at newsprint, looks at R, looks at newsprint, her voice is quiet and choked) No. No. I have a pen.

R: Fabulous.

(Lights begin to fade out. A walks back to her seat to get her pen, she lays the newsprint on the floor, and lays down on it, she starts tracing her body.)

R: Ohh, almost forgot, just one color ink allowed! Federal law. No crayons either!

(lights fade out completely)

Ms. Arlington: (looking up just as the last bit of light leaves the stage) Damn!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just love that she actually does it-