So here I am, on an Important Phone Call with my mom’s oncologist when I hear it: tap-tap-tippity-tap. Huh? Where is that noise coming from? I turn off the radio in the background. I’m mostly venting to the doctor about how upset I am that my mom has cancer, and he murmurs, “Uh, huh,” very softly and helpfully. Then, I ask him a few more relevant questions (like what sort of treatment options my mom has), and there it is again: tip-tap-taaaap-tippity-tap-tap.
Wait—I know that sound! It’s a keyboard. The doctor is typing things on his computer as he listens (or pretends to listen) to me. No wonder he sounds so sympathetic—not too difficult to say, “Uh, huh, mmmmm, yes, sure,” when you’re playing Mario Brothers or surfing the net for gohorsebetting.com.
What do I do now? This is outrageous! Truth be told, I never really liked him that much before, but this just cements my negative opinion of him. How dare he multi-task when I need his expertise! Who does he think he is?
Do I confront him? I mean, I don’t really even know 100% for sure that’s what the sound is. Maybe it is Crucial Doctor Equipment that just happens to be in his office. Perhaps it's some weird sort of feedback on my cell phone.
I am forced to admit that I have done this once or twice to other people. If my long-winded former neighbor from California calls me to “just get caught up”, I know that I am in for a 45-minute “quicksand conversation” (the quicksand being that you say a few words to be polite and before you know it you are suuuuuuuuucked into this unpleasant place, this Scary Time Vortex, that you cannot escape). All of a sudden, I find myself playing computer solitaire and buying silver bracelets on eBay to avoid listening to her as she drones on and on and on and on.
I just never realized the typing was so, well, audible. Was my former neighbor onto me? How about the ex-boyfriend that called to let me know he was engaged? My Aunt Sally who wanted to find out the weather in Crazy Town? Did all of them, uh, hear my boredom through the annoying little strokes on the keyboard?
I decide to confront the oncologist. I mean, come on, buddy! This is Life or Death here! You can’t be ignoring me when I'm concerned about my mother’s health and you are being paid about a gazillion dollars a year to fix her!
“Excuse me, Doctor?” I begin calmly, doing my best to control my tone. “I hate to even ask you this, but, uh, what exactly is that tapping sound I keep hearing?”
An eerie silence ensues. No words. No tapping.
“Tapping sound?” he says, surprised. “You hear a tapping sound?”
He. Is. So. Busted.
“Yes………… it reminds me of a keyboard? Perhaps typing on a computer keyboard?”
He laughs heartily. “You hear that? That tapping? Thank God! I thought it was you doing Facebook updates while you’re on the phone with me! I thought, wow—she isn’t even listening to a word I’m saying!”
I decide I like this doctor after all.
(“Mom’s Oncologist’s Verdict”)