Arnie and I are in Florida for the winter and one of the tasks we needed to accomplish while we are here is changing healthcare plans and getting set up with a new primary care physician that will accept that plan. With those two biggies behind us, we then needed to take care of the details. Flu shots, blood work, eye exams, dentist, etc. Metaphorically, we get our tune up in the winter in Florida so that we are running efficiently while we are on the road.
This week the task before us was going to the Lab for fasting blood work. With all the proper paperwork in hand, we headed off to the nearest LabCorp location early in the morning to beat the crowd. I booked an early morning appointment because I freely admit to being a bit of a germaphobe. Actually due to all of the recent press about the severity of this years flu season, I am a very big germaphobe. Worse than normal. I did not want to put us in contact with a room full of sick people unecessarily. The early bird may get the worm, but not the germ……….I hoped.
We arrived promptly at 7:30 am, and headed in to the Lab to take care of business and get back home in time to a nice cup of coffee and breakfast for our empty tummies.
The minute I opened the door I knew my plan was for naught. From the center of the waiting area, a loud wet sneeze announced our arrival. “Breathe shallow”, I counseled my husband, envisioning him inhaling the swirling cocktail of viruses flying around the room searching for a host. There’s no logic to that advice, but desperate times call for desperate measures and I was in every germaphobe’s worst nightmare. Labcorp during flu season is a snake pit and that welcoming sneeze was a warning hiss.
Mothers of small toddlers who had risen screaming at dawn that morning had hatched the same plot as mine. Get there early and avoid the cattle car of people who were subsisting on liquids and Tylenol. But alas, here we all were crowded together in the tiny petri dish waiting room. To walk across the room to the reception counter, I would have to navigate a collection of cranky seniors filling the chairs and lined the room’s perimeter. A couple of rough characters, apparently court ordered to LabCorp by their probation officers, rounded out the cast. We were all here early by design, in the same place, for the same reason: to avoid each other’s germs.
” Thank God I made an appointment”, I muttered under my breath. Arnie took a seat while I marched up to the sign-in desk to register us. I pulled out a pen, my own of course, since I planned ahead so I would not have to touch the infected common writing instrument that I knew would be waiting at the registration desk. Again, there is little to no logic to my line of thinking. Breathing shallow and using your own pen was no protection whatsoever from being immersed in contamination like this! But crazy people don’t think logically and I am borderline nuts during flu season. Only my false pride and the certain knowledge that doing a blood draw through heavy material had made me leave the bio-hazard jumpsuit at home.
After taking enough information to induct us into the military, Brunhilda, the receptionist told me to take a seat. Her flat affect indicated that she had recently been lobotomized. Fearing I had nothing to lose by asking a simple question (silly me), I inquired as to whether or not they were running on time. Channeling my best Buddha nature and mustering a weak smile, I followed up by saying that we had an 8:00 appointment. What was I thinking?
Brunhilda paused. Brunhilda rolled her twenty something eyes. Now, maybe she was only showing off her gothic eyeliner but I strongly suspect she was reacting to a question she’d been asked before that morning. Without looking up, this charm school graduate sighed deeply and stated, ” Welllllll………….as much as possible”.
I was able to channel the voice of the Buddhist teacher that I have recently been listening to in a workshop. I named the emotion. Irritation, irritation, irritation. I reminded myself what to do with it. Let it flow, let it go. Let it flow, let it go. I looked at Brunhilda and tried to muster up some compassion for what her morning must have been like already. Kind thoughts to you, Brunhilda despite your dripping sarcasm. Kind thoughts. Kind thoughts. I reminded myself that she was a sentient creature. That one was hard.
And then I heard it.
From behind me in the room someone started to cough. It started as a tickle and then quickly erupted into a full-blown cough. The kind of cough that comes over you in the morning to clear out the cobwebs of the night. It was deep and masculine. “In the name of all that is good and holy, couldn’t you do that home?”, I thought irrationally. Did you save that until you got here? Do you have anything else you’d like to share with the class?” My thoughts raced, but still, I kept my tongue.
Since looking Brunhilda in the eye was not possible because she apparently does not make eye contact, I spoke to the top of her head. “Excuse me, due to the coughing, my husband and I are going to step outside the door and wait our turn. Could you please call us from there? “I’ll have someone get you.” , she sort of responded. “Thank you. I appreciate that.”, I replied to the part in her hair.
I took another shallow breath, turned and strode across the room to where Arnie was seated waiting patiently. “Come on. We are getting out of this room. ” I snarled discreetly. He looked puzzled and asked where we were going. “Just get up.”, I ordered with none of the civility I had shown Brunhilda. He probably thought he had fasted and arose at dawn for nothing since I was now dragging him from the waiting room. But he’s lived with me for a long time and didn’t question my righteous exit from the room. He got up and followed me out the door and into the 40 degree with a brisk breeze morning air without a scene.
When we got outside, my ever-patient husband asked, “What was that about?” I quickly and vehemently explained myself. “We are not going to make ourselves sitting ducks in that room waiting for some virus with our name on it to decide we look like nice people to take up residence with. It’s a flu factory in there. Did you hear that man coughing?
A look of amusement washed over his face. “Yes I did. Honey, it was me coughing.” That’s about when we dissolved in laughter. I think that laughing is good in situations like this. It expels germs from your lungs.