Thursday, November 10, 2005

Next?

In France, it seems that everything requires making an appointment. You need to make an appointment to get your passport renewed (for French passports), you need an appointment to hand in forms at the local Préfecture (a type of governmental administrative centre), and you even need an appointment (and a whole lot of patience) to open a bank account.

On the other hand, some events here do really require an appointment but don’t have one. Take for example, applying for my first long stay visa here. This required spending the whole day in a queue at the Préfecture, from 7am (the Préfecture opens at 8:50am) to 4pm just to submit some pieces of paper. For those who actually get there at 8:50am… “sorry, you’re too late, you’re just going to have to come back at 7am another day. Yes we know, the Préfecture opens at 8:50am but c’est la vie!”. Anyway, that’s a whole other story. What’s the postal service for? The post - that’s a whole other story as well!

Anyway, appointments…thus, going to the doctor obviously requires an appointment. A totally redundant appointment.

Having been to the doctor a few times now, I have realised that it is totally pointless making an appointment. Each time I’ve been there, it seems that names are not needed. All the doctor does is call “next” and the patients file in according to order of arrival.

I tend to make my appointments as late as possible to be able to get there after work. The last appointment is at 7pm and so far, I have encountered at least a 1-hour wait each time.

Having observed the lack of appointment verification, that is, making sure that the person waiting does have an appointment for the day and approximate time, I figure that I should just show up 30 minutes after my appointed time and just take my turn when the doctor calls “next”. I’m positive that half those people in the waiting room have done exactly that – just “show up”. I know, I’m not the most patient person but why go through the motions of making an appointment time when you know that you’ll have to wait anyway. Why not just set a date for an appointment.
“Mr or Mrs so-and-so, your appointment is for next Thursday. Just show up when you feel like it. Either way, you’ll have a minimum waiting time of 1 hour”.

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