October 10, 2005
Most Bungled Phone Call Yet
I think I am nervous about dental care in France. We've been more or less warned about it by some ex-patriots here, and by our dentist in the U.S. as well. We've been told "they" don't care much about gum health "here." In California, our dentist's office had an administrative assistant and three hygienists plus two dentists (married to each other). The first dentist I called here answered the phone himself. Made me think maybe he doesn't have very many patients. Which was partially confirmed by him telling me I didn't need to make an appointment until a week or so beforehand (compared to months ahead where we came from). But he was friendly at least.
Next I called a local doctor's office. Emily's asthma episode this morning gave me the kick in the pants I needed to begin establishing some relationships in the medical community in our new hometown. I made an appointment for her to be seen so we can get refills (or more likely a new prescription) of her emergency medication and regular pills for difficult times of the year allergy-wise. We're running low.
Finally, to finish the medical rounds, I needed to find someone to check up on Jason's orthodontic appliance, which was put in four months ago to maintain space for a tooth that has yet to emerge. This was the worst executed phone call I've made yet. I half tried to explain Jason's orthodontic history (to explain why we needed to come in), but decided it was too much to tell in this introductory conversation, and gave up. Then I actually asked the orthodontist whether she worked with children. I mean, who else would she be working with? (for the most part). Stupid question number one. I don't know what I was thinking. Maybe of the question I meant to ask the dentist and doctor but didn't remember to. At least it would have been reasonable in their cases. The weirder part of this is that I was stumbling and mumbling over my words on this phone call (I've never been involved in francophone dentistry nor orthodontistry before, as all our dental professionals in Geneva were fluent in English), and I think I may have asked the woman whether she "made children" rather than "worked with" children. The same verb in French can mean DO or MAKE (faire). Oops. Then I got all confused and flustered trying to tell her when Jason would be available. I hadn't prepared a list of those times or days, and since he gets out daily at 5pm, it seems like there is no time. She got frustrated with me and brusquely set me an appointment for 23 days from now, and I could only quietly acquiesce in an effort to get off the phone.
I don't generally like going to the dentist nor taking people I love there. Add the language difference in. Throw in completely unfamiliar staff, locations and practices. And a mom who was up at 5am trying to restore proper breathing to her child. You get an embarrassing phone call. Big deal. I'll get over it. Hopefully twenty-three days is enough to make the orthodontist forget who I am too, and we can start afresh face to face.
(this definitely topped the phone call to the pool security company where I couldn't remember the man's name and a lady answered and I couldn't figure out how to ask for him; I eventually just told her the message to give him - he wasn't there anyway. Then there are all the phone calls during which the phone just rings and rings and rings - most small businesses around here do not have answering machines nor websites, so there's no way to figure out their office hours until you happen to luck out and call at a moment they're open)
October 10, 2005 | Permalink
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Laughing. Awww Katherine, you are definitely in the throws of culture acclimation to be sure. I feel for ya, girl, and am glad you can laugh about it.
Posted by: Helen | Oct 11, 2005 4:59:17 AM
Just imagine all of this with no French background and no language skills to fall back on. Be grateful that no real emergencies have arisen. I had two near fatal accidents, the first with you at age two (hospitalization and four months of follow-up), and then your brother's multiple concussions and 25 meter fall onto flagstone. How one survives motherhood/parenting is the real answer to the existence of God. We all call out to Hiim in those moments. It is an inexplicable shout from the heart, or gasp, or whisper...But we all survived, and even thrived, and you all have gone on to the challenge of having babies/children of your own. Those experiences often made me appreciate my own mother more and all of the things she never told me about, but that I know she must have done for me...Hugs, Mom
Posted by: Patricia Taylor | Oct 18, 2005 5:20:16 AM