The OK Corral

I love the doctors and staff in my local healthcare network. They are great people and, for the most part, do a wonderful job keeping me as healthy as a person with Parkinson’s disease can be.

Like most of us dealing with “the whole Parkinson’s thing,” I’ve spent a lot of time in recent years interacting with these various healthcare professionals, and I’ve noticed something peculiar about them: They seem to always finish their statements by asking, “OK?”

A visit to the OK Corral

For example, a receptionist might say, “Fill out this form, then sign it here, at the bottom, OK?” Or a nurse might say, “I’ll tell doctor you’re here and she’ll be with you shortly, OK?” The OKs begin the moment you enter the facility and keep right on coming until the moment you leave--at which point, you are cheerfully told, “Have a nice day, OK?”

This doesn’t annoy me, most of the time; it’s just something that stands out. Perhaps people in other industries that serve the public do the same thing, but I just haven’t noticed because I don’t spend long stretches of time in their waiting rooms analyzing their behavior like a bored anthropologist. I must admit, however, that in my private thoughts I’ve begun to refer to my medical appointments as “visits to the OK Corral.”

Usually, I simply cooperate with the dynamic and respond to these “OK” statements by feebly uttering my own, “OK.” But sometimes I wonder what would happen if I suddenly started to buck the system: “No, I’m afraid that’s not OK. I’d prefer to sign the form at the top, instead. OK?”


I suspect that suddenly asserting this unexpected non-conformity would greatly upset the delicate behavioral balance of the medical office ecosystem. I imagine a confused receptionist getting on the phone to her supervisor: “He wants to sign the form at the top, is that OK?” She will be given guidance and, before hanging up, she will tell her supervisor, “OK.” Then she will advise me, “We’d really like you to sign the form at the bottom, like everyone else does, OK?”

I suppose that if this is all I have to complain about, things must be going pretty well. Like I said, I love these people, despite their idiosyncrasies. In fact, I feel a little guilty about poking fun at them, so I think I’ll stop now.

Have a nice day, OK?

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