Two years and one bazillon dollars ago (that's a precisely calculated number. More on that later), I took Max and toddled off to the orthodontist. Or as Max preferred, the orcadontist, the only sea creature known to straighten teeth. We picked an office on the careful and well reasoned basis of "our dentist recommended him, and really, how bad can he be?"
Well, he wasn't bad. The actual doctor in that office is a personable, capable, and helpful young man. The STAFF, on the other hand, seems to have gotten the opinion somewhere that patients are the problem in the office.
I don't suppose it's right to complain about them too heartily, because the things they did that annoyed me weren't all that horrible. There was the reminder calls that were delivered in a tone that implied that they KNEW we weren't planning on showing up. The pot of coffee that sat in the waiting room, but was clearly ONLY FOR STAFF, because they hid all the cups. The way they sat behind the desk and laughed and talked about the patients that had just left. That one was annoying, because hello, rude! But it didn't actually bother me that much, even though I assumed they must be talking about me also. It turns out I don't actually care what they think of me.
They continually offended Max, by assuming the worst of him. When he got spacers put in (which are actually just bits of stuff that they wedge between teeth to make gaps; Max says they feel like having a dictionary stuck in your teeth), one of the assistants told me wearily, "And when they fall out, just bring him in, and we'll replace them."
"Why would they fall out?" I asked. She gave Max a sour look.
"Because he's eating something he shouldn't. They ALL do it."
Well. I'll have you know his spacers did NOT fall out, because Max did NOT in fact eat things he wasn't supposed to. There was one broken bracket early on, but only the one, and after that he was a model patient.
But today was the day. Finally, after all the time and the pain and the money and the icky stuff jammed in his mouth, today Max got his braces off! And LO, it was good.
They took a mold in the office, to make him a retainer, and told us to drop by and pick it up between 3 and 6 this afternoon. Drop by! Pick it up! Doesn't it sound SIMPLE?
Clearly that was office staff code for "we will extract our final portion of pain from you OH YES WE WILL! Cackle cackle cackle!" Because when we showed up it took them a half hour for them to find the retainers, and then they took Max off to the back room and left me waiting for another half hour while I texted irritable texts to Clay and used the calculator on my phone to figure out how much money we'd actually given that office. I may have included pain and suffering damages, but I'm telling you, it came out to exactly one bazillion dollars. Even.
When they finally returned Max to me, they explained that the upper retainer hadn't come out right (final snarky story from the office - when the assistant was fitting Max for the retainers, she put too much goop in his mouth. And he tried to hold still and breathe through it, but that stuff was creeping down his throat, and eventually he gagged a little. And so she ROLLED HER EYES and MADE IMPATIENT NOISES AT HIM). So they'd refitted him for a new upper retainer, and could we pick it up on Saturday?
The answer to that is no. I try to be as accommodating to people as I can, but when they asked that, our Saturday schedule flashed before my eyes and I said flatly, "There is no earthly way that is possible."
And okay, for a brief moment I thought about the feasibility of actually biting someone, if only for the irony value.
Anyhow, we worked it out (he will jam the ill fitting retainer in his mouth for now, and we will pick up the new one on Tuesday), and I all but grabbed Max and sprinted out of the office.
And now, with the whole experience (mostly) behind us, I look at Max and his beautiful new smile. He looks so grown up, all of a sudden - even though he can't seem to stop running his tongue over his teeth. It may be expensive, it may be painful, it may include encounters with people that make you slightly crazy. But I gotta say...
...totally worth it.