In my stroll around the neighborhood, camera in hand and absorbed in my thoughts, I sensed the voice of a man walking beside me talking to himself. I can’t bear to look at him — not even if he’s that old — I thought. When his eyes met mine, taken by surprise, he said to me, “Don’t think I’m crazy, it’s that the most unusual thing just happened to me.”

He told me that for some time he had been suffering from some problems that he blamed on the age, but a doctor friend of his, after taking a peek, told him that what he had to do was go to a dentist, that is was almost certain that his health problems stemmed from the poor condition of his mouth. He added that because of this, he decided to go to the dentist’s clinic and there he saw a doctor, who told him he needed several extractions to be done urgently. That same day, he had four. The doctor gave him an appointment for the next week, to recuperate a little and continue with other things. When the date of the appointment came, he went back to polyclinic and on leaving it, continued his story. But this time things did not turn out as he thought. After having to wait a couple of hours, because the office was full, the doctor told him she could not see him because they had run out of gloves, and to call occasionally to see if they had arrived, as if the gloves traveling alone, he said.

Without giving it much thought, he went back to his friend the doctor, and asked if he could get him some from the hospital where he worked, and he got a package with twelve pairs. Very happy, he hugged the treasure and went back to the clinic to see the doctor. Look, I brought you a few pairs of gloves. He started to get a little more heated as he told me that she refused to accept the gift, arguing that this was not enough for all patients she had to see, and if she cared for him and not others, it could turn out to be a problem for her. He said that even though he insisted and argued, the doctor reiterated her refusal, so he left, feeling defeated and crushed. That’s why you caught me talking to myself, ‘he reiterated.

Thinking about it, it brought to mind misery loves company, and I dared to tell him that I had also experienced a similar situation in the polyclinic that served the area where I live. On one occasion, I told him, I had gone to see a doctor recommended to me by a friend, to get a filling. The doctor told me to wait in her cubicle, while right before my eyes she attended a patient with an oral infection. When she finished with him she told me to sit down and washed her gloved hands in the little sink there. When I saw that, I got up as if I were operated by a spring and said, “I’m so sorry, doctor, I just remembered I left the pressure cooker in the stove, I’ll come back another day.”

She’s still waiting for me!

If Kafka were alive now, here on my beloved planet, he would still be, I’m sure, I great writer of novels of manners.

July 27 2011

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