My Bad

August 1, 2008

“My bad” – an expression attributing error to the speaker used frequently by young hip and groovy people. Generally this doesn’t include me. However, a recent situation unfolded to be the perfect moment for its use.

It unfolded like a real life comedy skit. The actors were my daughter (Kat, who is fifteen), myself and a medical receptionist.  We were at the front desk filling out new contact details for their data base. You need to put yourself in my shoes to understand my failing.

The receptionist is a lanky gentleman with wispy, greying hair defying confinement, hunched over his computer.  Upon your entry as clients, he lifts his head momentarily and smiles sheepishly (hesitantly as though he doesn’t know what to say). You announce your names to alleviate his pain. He squints as though he has forgotten his glasses, nods and you take a seat in the waiting area.

After the appointment, you find yourself at his desk, separated from his work area by a high bench but able to peer over to see his screen on his corner bench and beyond to his system of files.

“Could you fill this form in for me please?” he asks. It is expected because you are new to this surgery.

“Sure”. You fill it in and pass it to him, your teenaged daughter looking on.

“I need you to wait there a moment while I type this in. It won’t take long”, he says. You wait with your daughter, both resting your arms on the high bench, watching him as he swiveles around his corner desk, completed form and typing digits to the ready. Its all expected.

But he squints at the form and lowers his eyes a little closer to the print than expected. As he reads the first few lines, his back rounds into a hunch. After awhile he places the form on the desk beside his keyboard and readies to type. But rather than using both hands (as expected), he raises only one hand and types in your details using his right ‘pointer’: tap… tap… tap. He does it so slowly that you and your daughter exchange glances with eachother. You see the surprise and amusement in her eye, with it a touch of something that indicates she, like you, is stifling the urge to leap over the counter and type it all in for him.  But you remain where you are and watch as he repeats the process of squinting over the paper followed by mono-digit typing every few words. 

Suddenly, the humour of it strikes you fiercely. (Here, of course, is a secretary. He is employed to do this every day!). You feel laughter escaping from deep within your chest and through your eyes which begin to water as you try to stifle it. You notice that your daughter (who is an actress) has managed to maintain a beautifully straight face against the odds, and this just adds to the humour. What would you do?

Well, I couldn’t contain my laughter. I walked away from the counter to have my laughing fit in relative private. I left Kat there to answer a query he had about our post code. 

Once I had the laughter under control I joined her at the desk. She took my measure with her serious actress face. “Fail!” she mouthed. The ‘L-sound’ nicely exaggerated by adding an ‘ah’. 

“My bad”, I whispered.


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