Opinion: Unpleasantly surprised to see me?

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People always act surprised to see me. Not happy to see me — just surprised. I remember walking home from elementary school and coming in the door about 3 p.m. My mother would say, “Are you home already?” I must have lived closer to school than I thought.

When I was on TV every morning, people who saw me at the supermarket seemed shocked. “Dick Wolfsie! What are you doing here?” I had a list of answers that began with eggs, bread and 2 percent milk.

The staff at my dentist’s office was stunned to see me the other day, but I can’t figure out why. True, I had not been to the dentist in a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I made an appointment in January for late March, assuming I would be vaccinated by then.

Ten minutes after I made that appointment, I got a text asking me to confirm the date. Then, two weeks ago came a postcard in the mail reminding me that at 2 p.m. on March 31, I was to see Dr. James about my pearly off-whites. Then a few days before the appointment date, I received an email and a text, all not-so-subtle hints to be sure I arrived at my scheduled time. I also got a message on my answering machine that morning: “Hi, this is Dr. James’ office. We are confirming your appointment. Could you call us back and let us know you got this message?”

When I returned the call, I got their answering machine: “Hi, this is Dick Wolfsie and I can’t wait to see all of you again. Could you please call me back to confirm that you got my message confirming that I will be there? If I don’t hear from you, I’m not going to bother driving all the way over there.”

When they called back, I wasn’t home, so they left a message: “Dick, this is Dr. James’ office. Yes, we expect you. Please confirm you got this message, which confirms we received your last message, confirming you will be hereWe can’t wait to dig away at the plaque.”

This could have gone on indefinitely, so I decided to just show up. I walked into the office, sat down and started flipping through pamphlets featuring horrifying photos of gum disease.

The receptionist finally noticed me: “Oh, if it isn’t Dick Wolfsie! What a nice surprise! Are you on today’s schedule?”

Right after my dental appointment, I checked my phone and there was already a text message from Dr. James’ office confirming my next appointment … for August.

When I got back home, I opened the front door and there was Mary Ellen: “Oh, it’s you,” she said.

After 42 years, there are no surprises.


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