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Say, what’s your number?

25 Apr

I have blood drawn regularly so my doctor can confirm that my medicine is working and not frying my liver. I usually go at 7am when the lab opens so I can knock it out before my work day, but my schedule was a bit twisted after traveling, so last week I went after work instead. I’m going to blame my day-end fatigue and recent jet-lag for what ensued.

The lab has a kiosk where you check-in electronically using your birthdate and last name. Once you’ve entered those, it flashes a number on the screen and tells you to wait until your number is called. Every time this happens, I think, “Why doesn’t it spit out a ticket like at the DMV so you don’t have to memorize your number?”

After receiving  my number – 286 – I took a seat.

A few minutes later, the receptionist called, “280? 280?” and no one came forward. Everyone in the waiting area (all women for some reason), started looking around at each other suspiciously. Had someone forgotten their number? Had 280 gotten impatient and left?

All of a sudden the receptionist shifted tactics and called MY name, sounding exasperated.

“Oh my gosh!” I said, running over as the other women looked at me like I was a moron. “I’m so sorry. I thought I was 286.” The receptionist laughed, then tried to discreetly ask me  if I was supposed to get a take-home specimen kit for fecal analysis. “Um, no. Just bloodwork, thanks.”

Mystery temporarily solved, I sat back down. A few minutes later, the receptionist called “280?” again as one of the phlebotemists stood by with paperwork to collect his next patient. This time, freshly rebuked, I was on my game. I jumped up and started walking toward the back with him.

“Last name?” he asked as we walked. I told him. “Nope. This isn’t you.” I started to protest, confident that I was 280, but he shook his head and called the last name that was on his form and another patient popped up to join him. Confused, I returned to the front desk. “Sorry,” I said. “I thought you were calling me for him. Did you need me again?”

The receptionist looked at me like I was crazy. “You called 280?” I prompted.

She laughed. “Your number isn’t 280. Remind me – what was your last name?” I told her and she looked at my paperwork. “You’re 276.”

“Wait. I originally thought I was 286. But then you called me over to check my paperwork using 280?” I was royally confused.

She just started laughing. “Honey, you’re 276. Go have a seat.”

I sat down and started laughing at myself. Why the hell wouldn’t they just use NAMES? As I sat there, I felt a bit less crazy as I listened to other patients’ interactions after checking in.

One woman got called over to the receptionist because she somehow managed to have TWO numbers. “Sorry,” she explained. “The number flashed so quickly I missed it, so I checked in twice.”

Another woman cruised straight to the reception desk after checking in. “Can you tell me what my number is? It flashed by so fast I didn’t see it.”

Finally a man arrived and – after a few minutes fumbling with the kiosk – walked over to the receptionist. I didn’t hear his half of the conversation, but I heard the receptionist say, “You don’t speak English?” before accompanying him back to the kiosk to help.

While I’ve never been the receptionist in a medical lab, I think I have a pretty clear idea of what drives that woman nuts about her job.

At last, 276 was called. We confirmed my name and Terrence did his business, sliding the needle in like a professional. “Smooth,” I told him. “You’re pretty good at this.”

“I should be – we’ve done almost 300 today alone.”

“276,” I told him.

“What?” he asked, looking confused.

“You’ve done 276. But you WILL do at least 280 before you leave.”

He looked at me like I was nuts. And perhaps I am, but two can play at that game.

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Small town living: cruising?

26 Mar
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Kind of like this, but with crappier cars and less reason. 

The other day I was wishing a childhood friend a happy birthday on Facebook. “Happy Birthday, old man!” I wrote. “Hop in your car and go cruise the McDonald’s to feel young again!”

As soon as the words came out, I cracked up. They struck me as absurd – not only imagining my 42 year-old friend attempting this, but also because the entire concept of “cruising” seemed so ridiculous.

Unless you’re from a small town, you probably have (at best) only a vague notion of what cruising entails. I know this because – after cracking myself up with my Facebook post – I asked Alan if cruising was a thing in Northern Virginia when he was a kid.

He gave me a blank look. “What kind of cruising?”

Which basically was the confirmation I needed that cruising was not, in fact, a universal THING.

After I explained it, he asked if we also hung out at sock hops, then returned to the book he was reading. (I think he’s suppressing his jealousy.) 

If, like Alan, you grew up in a semi-urban area where cruising wasn’t a thing, I’ll offer a quick description: Cruising was the main Friday/Saturday night activity for high schoolers in our small town. It involved hopping in a friend’s car – usually with a few other people – and driving a repeated loop of town, waving at other kids doing the same thing, and occasionally stopping at McDonald’s to have an actual conversation with someone.

There’s really no way to describe it that makes it sound even remotely as fulfilling as it somehow was. And if it’s something you’ve never experienced, it probably sounds both weird AND boring.

I say that because as an adult who is now living carless in a large city, the idea even strikes ME as ludicrous. The environmentalist in me also cringes thinking about the gas that we wasted, going exactly no where.

And before you ask: No, we did NOT tip cows for sport. That’s tacky. We were too busy tp’ing each other’s houses for that.

 

Well, that was refreshing!

23 Mar

At my yoga studio, they wrap up every practice by spritzing us with lavender mist while we are relaxed in savasana (also known as corpse-pose). It’s one of the small touches that makes the studio feel a bit like spa.

Being environmentally-minded, they also provide a natural apple cider vinegar solution to spray on our mats to clean them after class.

So I suppose it was only a matter of time before a substitute teacher got the spritzers mixed up. The other night, I was lying there peacefully in savasana, waiting for my smell-triggered mental image of Provence’s rolling fields of lavender – when suddenly it smelled more like I was in England surrounded  by newspapers of fish and chips doused in vinegar.

Before I could connect the dots, I heard the hushed whispers of the instructor, apologizing to the first two people she had sprayed. Compared to the gentle mist of the lavender pump, I’d have to imagine it felt like they were blasted in the face with a SuperSoaker.

Fortunately, that harsh wake-up call helped her catch her mistake so the rest of us were spared. And those first two people might not have been relaxed – but they sure smelled clean. Namaste? 

Apparently I speak Braille now.

8 Mar

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I can’t decide if acne is better experienced as a teen , when pretty much everyone is struggling with it – or as a forty-something, when you have very few shits left to give.

I’ve never really had bad skin – up until the last two weeks of my life. Because I assume it is temporary – likely the result of stepping off the steroids I’ve been on since September – I approach it mainly with curiosity, rather than frustration. It’s somewhat intriguing to wake up each day wondering, “Where might I have a new pimple today?”

I’m reminded of a friend I had in my early twenties, who was quite pretty. When we caught up a decade later, after her first pregnancy, I asked how it had been. “The pregnancy was fine, but my face was NOT. I had terrible acne,” she said, clearly still not over it. “I mean, I’m used to getting the best table or whatever when I go out to eat – and for three months I honestly knew what it was to feel ugly.”

At the time I laughed, thinking, “Finally! She knows what life is like for the rest of us!”

Now, though, I can muster a bit more sympathy. While I haven’t experienced the horror of receiving a downgraded table (probably because I never experienced the thrill of an upgrade!), I can relate to looking in the mirror and seeing – if not a stranger – then a somewhat bizarro version of myself.

It’s a good reminder: beauty is only skin deep, and looks can be deceiving. I’m healthier (knock wood!) with a bumpy face, than I was before with a smooth one. The fact that I’m stepping down from the steroids means things are working and I’ll soon (fingers crossed!) be on a single medication.

Who knew I’d be giving thanks for zits? Oh, Crohn’s, you silly bastard!

A little less honesty, please?

18 Jan
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Gray hair? What gray hair?

Exchange with Tom, my stylist, at my most recent haircut.

Me: You know, I think my hair is actually getting thicker!

Tom, after a pause: Is it also getting grayer?

Me: Yeah – there are a lot of them now.

Tom: Well… there you go.

#winning