On Giving Others a Reality Check When They Deserve It (or Why It’s Hard For Me to Help Myself)

Today, I had a 10 AM appointment with University Health Services, so I bundled myself up with all my supplies for the day – books, papers, notebooks, laptop, projector (that didn’t work), coffee cup (which I forgot to fill with coffee), and lunch (which I forgot to include utensils) – and headed out in the freezing cold. I got there a few minutes late, mostly because of the slow elevator ride to the 7th floor because it’s Madison and elevators are slow here.

I walked in to see a younger, Asian-looking man, and a slightly older redheaded lady at the desk. The man waves me over to check me in. I give him my name and ID number, and he types it in and then has a funny look on his face. So then this happens:

ME (to the guy): You look confused.

REDHEADED LADY (to me): You look late.

ME (to Redhead): You look like you’re about to get a bad performance evaluation in patient care quality.

Ouch, a little harsh, but that was the best I could come up with. Either that or “mind’ya business, okay honey?”


I have a seat, and a few minutes later, the lady I’m coming to see comes out to get me and walks me back to her office. When I get back to her office and we sit down, the lady goes, “Yeah, so she [Redhead] just came back here and told me that she screwed up and she’s really sorry she said that. I told her that we all make mistakes but need to keep our personalities in check and out of the office.”

That’s just about the first time in my whole entire life that I’ve ever been told that someone was sorry for how they acted towards me.

Oddly enough, depression is one of the things that I struggle with, but I felt great. Life’s like that, I guess.

I’ve been getting better about getting to places on time, especially stricter things like meetings, appointments, and classes, but in my opposite-side-of-the-table life, I really don’t care that much if people come late to my classes (don’t tell my students that though please, thank you!). People’s lives are people’s lives, and if they’re human, they probably either a) have a reason, and feel bad about it, or b) don’t have a reason, and feel bad about it, so adding a wisecrack or a criticism doesn’t really add anything. .I don’t see it as an issue of respect or whatever; if you’re late, you’re late, and it’s on you, and whatever-the-hell because we’re all on this earth and doing the best we can and experiencing the passing of time in the same damn way every single day.

So, whatever side of the table you’re on, just don’t be a dick about it. Things happen and they don’t always involve you…and yes, I’m talking to you too, redheaded receptionist lady. You’ve got a case of the Wednesdays.

11 thoughts on “On Giving Others a Reality Check When They Deserve It (or Why It’s Hard For Me to Help Myself)

  1. Lol, I can relate to being a moody sarcastic red head <.< . In saying that my motto is always this, "Be careful what you say cause once it's out it could live in someone else forever". At least you got an apology through third party XD , hope your coffee was filled and your day got better!

  2. I can completely relate to this sentiment. I am usually early (as in 15 minutes prior is on time) but when I’m depressed I’m almost always late. If I’m hypomanic I’m either weirdly early and excited about it or super late because I forgot I had something to do. I keep reading these articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education (I work in academia, but in a library) and profs are bemoaning late classes and how “kids the days are so irresponsible.” You never know what people are going through. Maybe the kids is lazy or maybe they work or maybe they’re homeless – that truly happened at my library — or maybe they just had difficulty getting out of bed that day. I figure if students are late all the time then they will fall behind or miss key information; there are just natural consequences. No need to make a big to-do.

  3. sounds like everyone was having a crappy day all round. but hey, you shouldnt have to cop that! consider how often we wait to see a doctor way after the appointment time. I’ve waited 90 minutes before. and was I allowed to get shirty> of course not.

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