Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Meaning of Empathy?

I was in a profession that made a regular lifestyle a challenge. Dinner by ten was considered irregular and bed before 2 am was an absurdity. Post sixty that lifestyle is now extracting its price. So I am now a regular visitor to physicians dissecting my past life and wishing more patients like me. 

As they say, que sera sera, or, as you sow you reap, but then those OPDs (Outpatient departments) also provide valuable life lessons.

Now let us assume that you are a nobody and you are ill. And you have been told that Dr X is the best. He does OPD at the hospital in your neighbourhood. So you don’t go to the hospital for treatment as such, but you go to the hospital to get treated by Dr. X.

Well. Now comes the part we all dread. Of being treated like dirt. The receptionist doesn’t care to look at your face even:

— Name?

— Doc?

— Why?

— 1500 rupees.

— Go and sit at the doc’s OPD reception

The damn hospital is big and you don’t know where Dr X sits. You try to ask that and face a royal snub. The guy standing next to you in the queue looks at you as if you have committed a crime! In a sense you have. You have stolen a few impatient seconds from his time.

But you are past sixty now. Whatever you were in your past life, with your chair gone there has been a big dent in your confidence level. And you cannot bear down on the receptionist enough to elicit the answer.

So you turn around and try to find someone who could guide you to the destination. You probably find a kind sweeper or someone ‘lowly’ enough to understand the ‘nobody’s’ (i.e. your) predicament and get guided to that specific waiting area which also has a receptionist.

You are a respecter of process. You are ready to wait your turn in the queue but you have not been told your serial number. So you approach the receptionist and she tells you curtly

— You will know when your turn comes

She goes back to whatever she was doing. By the time you find a seat in the waiting room your confidence is completely shattered. The PA system comes to life. A name is called and you find the guy who was behind you walking proudly in. Yes as he passed you by you must have felt his snigger at the lowly other patients! 

So you gather enough courage and walk up to the receptionist to point that out and she replies with disgust

— I told you you would know when your turn comes!

At that point perhaps a big gun in the hospital admin recognises you, comes over and shakes your hand. You are saved.  You are back to being that man who matters!  And the same receptionist who was scowling at you minutes back is now repulsively obsequious. 

The patient who was ahead of you in the queue and is clearly frail and needs to be attended to immediately stays behind!

A Bong will always be a Bong

  I have known Rajib and of him ever since he started his professional life as a journalist and then of him when he decided to say adieu to ...