Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A day at the eye doctor

I've just been diagnosed with diabetes, which leads to a whole bunch of other appointments and tests. That includes an eye exam. I couldn't help compare the intake experience at this very commercial enterprise, compared to the visit to the mental health clinic only a few days before.

The place is set up for profit. The architecture, the furnishings are all sleek and modern. Glass walls and chocolate walls sweep around in sleek curves, with little cubes to show off the merchandise. The cute little reception chairs were ordered in a perfect row. Instead of a coffee table, cushions. The fabric was worn in a spot and I couldn't help wonder, "Gosh, that fabric is going to be hard to match."

Anyways, the receptionist was pleasant enough. We had to lean close to talk. All those hard surfaces, and the space echoed with loud chatter. I asked her if it was like this all the time. "It comes and goes. Sometimes it is real quiet. When there's lots of people like now, yes, it is hard to hear." I make a mental note, "Put in some soft wall coverings." To the technician puffing air on to my eye, I complain about the absence of magazines. "Oh, but we have the big screen for that." What do you know. I completely missed the big screen on the wall, playing endless loops of instructional video on... you know what... the eye.

I'm not sure I am keen on all these instructional videos showing up all over the place. The Edmonton courthouse has the same thing. But I must say the courthouse video lady gives very practical advice. Advice that a live clerk of the court must repeat dozens of times a day. Most people (we hope) don't go to court that often. There's no way we could pick up all we need to know to keep ourselves straight, in the right place, and out of trouble in the short time we are there. I am grateful for the courthouse video lady. Though the courthouse is not so nearly as sleek and polished as that eyeglass store.

Should a public building pay as much attention to it's intake? What impression is it trying to build? Rather than prosperous, modern, and professional, what image is the intake office attempting to portray? Is it calm and efficiency? Or is it like the courthouse; authority and order? How does joe taxpayer feel about money being spent on a sleek and polished intake gallery?

The mental health clinic had patient artwork on the wall, which was very good. There was a great deal of random clutter, however, including the inevitable collection of ratty notices. Those notices, I swear, don't have nine lives. They are immortal. No-one ever reviews them or dares to take them down.