At 6 p.m. on the Friday before Memorial Day, I learned that a flight attendant in Costa Mesa had a cold. I prefer not to drive 46 miles during the rush hour, so I promised to be there between nine and ten. That was acceptable. Airline crew are not demanding.
Five minutes later a guest at the downtown Doubletree asked for a visit. This was a bad juxtaposition. Scheduling it for after Costa Mesa meant an arrival time near midnight.
I told her to expect me at around eight. I gave myself over an hour for a 25 minute drive, but traffic was not so bad, and I arrived early. I worried that the guest might not be in the room. When I say I’ll arrive “around eight” guests often hear “eight.” They leave, planning to return at eight or a little after. But the guest answered the door.
The freeway to Costa Mesa was also not bad, and this time no one answered my knock at 8:30, half an hour early. The front desk was unhelpful.
This was a situation I hate. Airlines have strict rules about sick crew, so this guest required a visit. If I waited until 9 and then left, I might get a call on the way home. If she was out partying, I might get it several hours later. I did not acquire my peerless reputation by refusing calls, so I’d have to make the return trip.
As I fumed and paced, the guest returned. I expressed relief, but she did not apologize. She was present at the appointed time, and no one expects a doctor to be early.