Author : David Henson

I turn around, push open the door to the clinic, then spin back around and march to Check-In.

“Ralf Pattersen,” I say to the guy at the desk. “That’s ‘Ralf’ with an ‘f’ and ‘Pattersen’ spelled ‘en.’ “

“Yes, Mr. Pattinson, how can I help you?”

I spell my name again. “Here for my corrective surgery.”

“What seems to be the problem?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” I fling up my arms in exasperation.

“Hey, watch it,” I hear a lady behind me say.

“Looks like your arms are on backwards, Mr. ….”

“Pattersen. Ralf Pattersen. Can’t you people get anything straight?”

“I’m sorry, sir. I’ll help you. Let’s get your information into the computer.”

“You already have my information. From six months ago. When I was here, and you reattached my arms backwards.” I take a breath, try to calm down. “It should all be in there.” I turn around and tap the screen.

“Let’s just make sure everything’s up to date.”

I spend the next 15 minutes telling him my medical history and that of my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. “Oh, and my dog had fleas once,” I finally say.

“I sense you’re frustrated, Mr. Parkinson. I’m here to help. Tell me how you lost your arms in the first place.”

I explain, again, about my rocketboard accident. “Just get them on properly this time. I’ve been living like this for half a year now.”

“Yes, I’m afraid we’ve had a bit of a waiting list. But now we’re going to take care of you.”

“I still don’t understand. How could they’ve been put on backwards?”

“Mr. Pattison, we pride ourselves on providing our patients with the highest quality medical services.”

I’m sorry I asked. I’ve heard this before.

“Among other precautions, our procedures are conducted under best-in-class antiseptic conditions.”

“You don’t need to—”

“Our expert team is never in the room with you. They work on your holographic likeness, and perfectly sterilized, precise robotic arms mimic the surgeon’s movements.”

That’s yesterday’s tech. Now here comes the excuse.

“On the day of your operation, there was a software glitch, and we had some mirror-imaging issues. Didn’t our post-op QA team go over this with you.”

“Yes, they did, but I still don’t —“

“Don’t worry. We’ll take good care of you, Mr. Pakistan. Let’s get you admitted.” He looks at the screen. “Oh.”

“What’s wrong?”

“This is 9 August. You were scheduled for 6 August.”

“That’s ridiculous.” I turn on my virtu-phone and pull up the notice they sent me. “See.”

“This is embarrassing,” he says. “We had an orientation glitch in our communications software. We caught most mistakes. But 6 and 9 … I’m afraid that one slipped through. I’m sure you understand.”

“I understand nothing.” I wheel around and slap the desk with both fists. “I demand to see a supervisor.” The woman next in line shrugs her shoulders. I turn back around. “I demand to see a supervisor.”

“I’m afraid they’re all busy providing outstanding service to other customers,” he says. “But we’ve efforted our waiting list. We can take you in about five months from today. We’ll send you a notice with specifics.”

“This was your mistake. I demand to go to the front of the line.”

“I’m afraid that’s not possible.” He leans forward and whispers: “You could try Elite Medical on Fifth.”

No way I can afford that so I reluctantly agree to return in five months. As I’m going out, I approach a woman walking in backwards. She has a very angry look on her face.