Dullown, UK: Today’s colours are: ripping red, tangy turquoise, bombastic beige, flippant fawn, buoyant blue, and gnarled grey.
Imagine that you are in a small room with two people who you don’t know very well, or at all. They are positioned very close to you, you can feel them gently leaning against your arms. They are having a conversation about their mutual interests, their friends, things that they have recently seen on the TV, local sports events, weddings and christenings they have recently attended… You cannot be involved in this conversation; unfortunately you can’t help but listen to it because of their close proximity.
They are casual and relaxed as they chat, but it is as if you are not really there, and perhaps that you don’t actually exist. They behave as if this is the normal everyday thing to do, and that it shouldn’t be at all upsetting for the third person in the room…
No, this is not some awful dream, this is reality – this is a visit to the dentists.
Are all dentists like this? All the ones I have known are. I suppose it is a pretty unpleasant and boring job poking about in people’s gaping wet pink open mouths all day; I suppose it’s just one patient after another, faces and mouths, faces and mouths, just like products going past on a factory conveyor belt. As the dentist and his/her assistant spend long days together they must feel the need to break the monotony up with a bit of chit-chat (who can blame them?) and there is no point involving the patient in it, as they are incapable of contributing anything to the discussion, their mouths being full of cotton wool, and metalwork, and also that little saliva sucky thing that never really works properly.
I suppose this wouldn’t be so bad if you are the kind of person who doesn’t mind lying flat on their back and having their teeth drilled and scraped, but some people (me for instance) are pretty scared of such goings on. As you lie there staring at the big bright light and the Tom and Jerry cartoon on the ceiling screen (there for the children, but set on constant repeat) listening to the details of the dentist’s and the assistant’s weekend activities, you start to wonder if their attention is really on the job in hand, or rather mouth – especially when one of them cracks a joke which is followed a sudden roar of laughter and the molar poking pauses briefly.
When they finally take out all your hardware and wedges and they sit you up to do a bit of rinsing and spitting they break off their conversation and actually start to recognise you as a proper human again, and they engage you in cheery banter and throw in some instructions about how you should look after the work done.
Is your visit to the dentist like this dear reader? Perhaps you could print out this post and send it to them, they might like to know what it’s like to be on the customer’s side of the business. I suppose I could send a copy to my dentist… No, no, I don’t think I will…
‘Ah Mr Whatt… It’s William isn’t it? No?… Oh, David… Right… ah, you are the one who sent me that print-out… Hm… do take a seat and make yourself comfortable William…’