/ Culture /
How many meanings does the word “appointment” have? How many meanings did “appointment” have ten years ago? The meaning has diluted drastically in my life time, has it not. Once upon a time it meant you had an assignment at a particular place and time: “I’ll meet you under the clock at the Biltmore.” You were supposed to be there on time, or no more than a few minutes late: so was she (or he). It meant that your lawyer expected you to be in his office, announced to the receptionist, ready to see him, the lawyer, at the appointed time: he was obligated to try to push other things aside: to see you at 10:00, or reasonably close to it.
Sitting in his waiting room you weren’t likely to make other unexpected business connections that would interfere with the scheduled appointment, when the receptionist said, “Mr. Belcher will see you now,” you weren’t supposed to say, “Just a minute, I’m closing a term insurance policy with this other guy I met here waiting.” No, you were supposed to be ready to go right in, not waste the lawyer’s time. He wasn’t supposed to waste your time, you weren’t supposed to waste his.
Some professionals charged you for their time whether you were there or not. A friend of mine told me she was billing K-Mart for the twenty minutes we’d spent waiting for a manager to answer the ring. “They’ll pay it,” she promised me: “I always bill, they always pay.”
The doctor’s assistant tells you to come to his office at 8:00 AM. You know that he’s not likely to see you till after 10: but you show up on time anyway: maybe, theres’ always maybe.
If the doctor’s appointment is with the president and the president is kept waiting two hours, the IRS can find a way to bill the doctor: how about the doctor billing the president? What if a fed attorney bills the doctor for national time wasted as the president’s time is wasted? The president’s income for two hours can be calculated. So could the cost of maintainging the White House and staff for two hours: the doctor’s life time income wouldn’t likely cover two hours of wasted White House time.
Whereever else this can go you can take it yourself: you probably have been already. But let me make another appointment-related cavil: I just got an appointment reminder from the Bay Pines VA facility. It stated an appointment date, time, and location: and said, please come fifteen minutes early: it always says come fifteen minutes early! Why not build the fifteen minutes into the appointed time? If they mean that I’m scheduled to see the doctor at 10:00 AM but the receptionist wants me for paper work at 9:45, why not just say that the office wants me there at 9:45?