I had my first dental experience in Spain. Dentist appointments (for routine cleaning) are, for me, like haircuts. I fail to make the required appointment in advance so when I need to have my teeth cleaned (or my hair cut) I am generally desperate for the cleaning (or the cutting) and find myself pleading with the gatekeeper on the other end of the phone for a slot in the diary.
Today! Today! (at the latest tomorrow.) Please!
I was surprised that there was no hemming and hawing about fitting me in for a professional teeth cleaning, especially given that my choices of dental cleaning facilities were limited by both my postal code and my insurance policy. Less than 24 hours would pass between the moment of my dental crisis ...I need a cleaning now!... and the cleaning itself, thanks to the luck of the appointment book (or the crisis?... Are people skimping on dental hygiene?).
I arrived for my cleaning armed with all the appropriate paperwork from the insurance company. The girl at the reception desk didn't seem quite prepared to handle the paperwork. She handed it back after a cursory glance and informed me that they didn't need to fill out this form; it was for me only. "But what is this section for then?" I asked innocently.
Patiently, she took the forms back and read through the section I had pointed out. "Oh. I suppose we do fill this out." she proceeded to fill in boxes under the "To be completed by the doctor" section of the form and finally stamped it with an official looking dentist's stamp. Very surprising given her first reaction, and, I thought, "She must be new."
The cleaning happened. The dental hygenist was too kind for my liking. She did not reprimand me at all. In fact she praised the state of my mouth, a sure sign for an incomplete procedure. After a no more than 15 minute cleaning procedure, she walked me, feeling dissatisfied, to the receptionist's desk.
The receptionist asked for my insurance card.
"But you took the details earlier ... " I thought to myself without saying anything.
She swiped the insurance card through the credit card reader.
"She has no idea what she is doing." I thought to myself without saying anything. "It's not a credit card!"
I stood at the receptionist's desk after she had handed my insurance card back to me. She, the receptionist, looked at me. I looked at her. I was clearly waiting to finalize the transaction. "That's it." She let me know the transaction was completed.
No money had exchanged hands; I had no receipt to accompany the form she had completed and stamped.
Now, I only have to trust that the process, for as mysterious as it is to me, works. In the meantime I will hold onto the completed form until such a time that I think it is safe to recycle.