For most people, getting to the dentist is the easy part.  It’s the time in the chair that’s difficult.

But for me it was the other way around.

I had an appointment for 9 am on Friday morning.  The receptionist had given me a reminder card, and called once to remind me.  I had to stop for gas on the way, so I left in plenty of time.  As I was filling my tank around 8:30 with plenty of time to spare, my phone rang.

“Are you coming?” the receptionist asked me when I answered.

Uh-oh.  This couldn’t be good.

“I’m on my way.”

“Are you in the parking lot?”

I asked her what she meant, and she revealed that my appointment had been at 8:15 and I was therefore 15 minutes late instead of 30 minutes early.  I explained the mix up about the appointment times.  I was sort of hoping that since I’m such a good customer and all, she would just squeeze me in when I arrived.

No dice.  They were booked solid and I would have to reschedule.

Well, that wasn’t the end of the world.  Then she looked through her appointment book and realized she had a cancellation for that day at 4:15.

It would mean going to work late and then leaving early again, but I took it.

Just before I hung up, she reminded me that everyone had to wear a mask in the office.

“Yes, yes,” I said, barely listening (is this how I missed the appointment time?) as I turned around.

Later that same day….

I was driving to the dentist’s office for the second time, again with plenty of time to spare, when I remembered about the mask.  I wasn’t worried, because I keep a bag of disposable masks in the car.  Something told me to check, so at the next red light I opened the glove box and found the bag of masks…empty.

I pulled over to the side of the road and looked through my purse, the rest of the glove box, the backseat, the trunk.

For the first time in three years I had no masks in the car.

The receptionist was going to kill me.

There was a convenience store on the way, and I crossed my fingers that they would have masks for sale.  It was a small mom and pop place, and I looked everywhere to no avail.

There was a man talking to the cashier, telling her an extended story about—I kid you not—how to get rid of the moles in his yard.

I kept glancing at my watch, realizing that if I didn’t get a mask here I had two options:

  1. Stop somewhere else to buy a mask and be late for my appointment
  2. Go to the appointment without a mask

Seeing as I’d already crossed the receptionist once today, I didn’t want to do it twice.

The cashier must’ve seen the panic in my eyes, for she ushered mole man out of the way.

“Do you sell masks?” I asked in desperation.

“Hold on,” she said.

I closed my eyes in relief.

But then she started looking around behind the counter.  What was she doing?  I needed her to point me to the masks!

Then she came up with a bag of what was obviously her personal stash of disposable masks.  She gave me one.

“What do I owe you?”

She waved it away.

To repay her kindness, I bought a Pepsi and a candy bar.

“Where are you going?”  she asked—meaning, where was I going that I needed a mask.

Around here, there are now very few places outside of hospitals that require masks.

“The dentist,” I told her, and thanked her for her kindness.

I arrived with three minutes to spare.

After all that, the appointment itself was uneventful—a routine cleaning, a quick check by the dentist to say everything looked fine.

Believe me, I triple checked the time on the follow-up appointment I made on my way out.