I am sitting in a parking lot, thirty minutes early to a medical appointment, watching birds roam around the pavement, picking at discards; cars float by, lifting and lowering over speed bumps in front of the bank.
I’m here early due to having been me for a long time. I use the little bottle of hand sanitizer and wrap a mask around my face, breath instantly feeling ovenish. I exit the car, walk between buildings, looking at the signs next to each door, trying to find the right office.
Many offices are all honeycombed together in these big windowy tetris blocks and it’s not exactly clear to me which signs go with which door. My eyes just see them as squares next to rectangles, mixed at random. Sometimes a sign just points up and there are stairs, but then multiple unmarked doors, and anyway it’s never clear where to go.
Eventually the squares and rectangles align and I’m in the right place; a waiting room. A glassed-in front desk person hands me a clipboard with pages on it, lots of questions on the pages.
Most of the chairs in the waiting room are empty; a blue-masked elderly couple sits to one side, facing a television affixed to the corner ceiling; it runs a cheery infomercial on bladder health.
I sit to answer the questions. The form-words all sound empty and the details ebb and flow in my head and I am mostly unsure what to write; a lot of the questions are too specific or too vague as to time and hard to relate to any component of my self. I do my best, hand in the clipboard.
The front desk person looks at it, holds a finger up. They point to a little drawing on the side of one form and ask, “What is this?”
“A calendar; I drew it in for context, there’s another one on the last form, for a different topic and anyway, it’s just clarifying info, I guess.”
They flip through the pages, point to an incomplete sentence I had written on the back of one page and ask, “What’s this?”
I look at it, tell them, “No, I don’t remember. Maybe I was adding info and changed my mind or I don’t know, just ignore it. I would ignore it.”
They take a pen, scratch through the sentence fragment and continue to ask “What’s this?” regarding various details that have been entered incorrectly or in the wrong place and so on. It takes about fifteen minutes to essentially re-fill out the form and get it right, in addition to the ten minutes the first time through, following the 20 aimless minutes going from the car to the waiting room.
I’m now pretty late to the appointment and my head whispers to itself, “try 45 minutes early next time”.
Once the paperwork is done, the front desk person slowly breathes out stress and then walks me to a room where a doctor looks at a computer screen and says, “Hey, scans are all clear,” and that’s it, I can leave.