I’m not usually overly sensitive about my age. I’m 69 years old but most people agree that I could easily pass for 68 and I don’t feel a day over 67…maybe 67.5.
But my, what would you call it…nonchalance?...regarding my age was challenged by a recent visit to my primary care physician.
Physically I’m fine (I know you were worried). The challenge came when I talked with my doctor about the text message system she uses to confirm appointments. The texts she sends out go like this:
Regarding your appointment on Thu 3/15 at 2:00 Please call 559-XXX-XXXX to change or cancel Reply 9XXX followed by yes or no.
I told her the message makes no sense. I get the part about calling to change or cancel but that’s followed by instructions to reply yes or no via text. Yes or no what? Yes I want to change? Yes I want to cancel? Yes I’ll be there on Thu 3/15 at 2:00? No I don’t want to change? Etc.
She suggested that the problem could be fixed by putting a period between “cancel” and “Reply.” I told her I didn’t think so.
She told me she uses a third party service for these texts and she’s not sure she can make any changes. I told her if that’s the case I thought “service” might be too kind a word to describe this particular third party.
So that’s when it got real. She told me, “I understand your confusion but for people who text it works fine.”
I honestly didn’t make the connection right away but later I realized she was telling me, “I understand your confusion because you’re really old and probably experiencing some declining mental acuity and, in fact, I’m a little surprised you were able to find my office for this appointment, but for people who text, i.e., people who are four to five decades younger than you, it works fine.”
The next day I happened to see my 15 year old niece—definitely a “person who texts.” I showed her my doctor’s message. My niece thought for a moment and said, “You’re right, it’s sort of like, ‘Call us and tell us if you prefer red or blue or text yes or no.’”
I’m trying to think of an example of any question (besides the one in my doctor’s text) that is both multiple choice and yes or no.
But my doctor may be right. This whole thing may be age-related. A colleague recently showed me a sign on the back window of a local high school student’s pickup. The sign read, “Satin hates school prayer.”
Is it a coincidence that the Kings County teenager who owns this pickup and believes that certain types of cloth fabric are capable of feeling human emotions is also most likely a person who texts? Does satin or denim hate school prayer more; yes or no?
If you’ve read this far you probably realize I don’t think my doctor is right. Clear communication is clear communication and nonsense is nonsense no matter how old you are or how often you text. And poor communication is a missed opportunity to get the response you need and/or to be taken seriously.
So here’s my text response to my doctor: A2D (Agree to Disagree, for people who don’t text)
And to the to the young pickup owner: ROFL (Rolling On Floor Laughing)