Signs and Arrows

I awakened, got dressed, google mapped my destination, donned my mask, and headed to my car. I connected my portable air compressor from the lighter socket to the tire that loses pressure every week and started the engine, then flicked the switch. The compressor vibrated obnoxiously on the concrete. I leaned on the passenger side to watch the computer warnings waiting for the low tire pressure sign to disappear.

Google tells me where to go, I pull into the parking lot thinking, oh, I used to walk by here before we moved and wondered if they had any job openings for an RN. I parked near a tree for the shade and loveliness. I walked towards the dark brown, nondescript brick building looking for an entrance. The sun was dazzling, the trees shimmering, birds flitting. I walked on the sidewalk towards a breezeway, but no, that wasn’t it. I passed the trash bins as the recycling truck roared in and waited until I was clear. I saw a door labeled staff only, a mask clad woman in navy scrubs emerged rolling a trash can. I walked the opposite way and just windows, no entrance. I doubled back gazing towards the woman as I tripped off the ledge slightly twisting my ankle and asked where the entrance was and she pointed back towards the direction I came from.

Ah, it’s around on the opposite side, I’d parked in the back. As I approached the covered entrance an elderly couple exited and got into their vehicle parked in the handicapped spot. The warm breeze gently tousled my hair as I was greeted by a nurse with a thermometer outside the sliding glass doors. She waved the wand at my forehead, “98.9, You’re good to go!”

There was a security guard at a table near the entrance and people were sequestered in sections with signs on the walls directing. I waited at the front desk which was set up with glass shields with a slot to pass your insurance card through, like a drive-through. There were two stations with people being served ahead of me. A man in a baseball cap with a woman both in shorts and a tall woman in a pantsuit at the other.

I overhear, “Who do you have your insurance through?” The patient replies, “Connect for Health Colorado.” Then, “It says your coverage expired on June 30th.” Frustrated voices erupt, “What? We’ve been having so much trouble…” Then it’s my turn the other clerk is free, “I can help you.”

I explain that I just need some labs drawn. “Oh, just go over there and take a number,” she points. I head over and there are only a few people sitting in chairs waiting. I pull the number and a digital sign up above on the wall lights up with my number in huge red digits and a robot voice says number 43 proceed to station 2. I look around confused because I’ve never been here. A kindly woman who’s sitting nearby says, “Just go in there,” gesturing. It’s straight ahead and there are elevated chairs in between numbered partitions. Number 2 is in the middle, I sit in the elevated big black pleather chair and there’s a rolling tray in front of me. I hear swooshing and clicks. I scoot back and forth, the seat is deep, I try to decide how to sit, all the way back or at the edge. There are adorable photos and magazine clippings of animals taped to the partition. I’m smiling and laughing at them, but the mask conceals my pleasure. The phlebotomist greets me and says, “You can sit all the way back, I’m gonna bring the table to you.” She lays out her supplies and asks me to show her my arms. She pushes my sleeves up further. She examines them for the most promising vein, the right is approved.

I say, “I love all your pictures, they’re so cute!” She points to one of a llama and horses and another of goats saying, “Those are the only actual photos, the rest are from magazines.” “Those llama, horses, and goats photos are from one of our regular clients and you should hear the stories he tells about them, oh lordy.” I laugh, “They look pretty mischievous!” She laughs saying, “Oh they are!” “Just a little stick,” I don’t feel anything, she’s an expert. Then she says that one of her friends has some goats and comments on how strange their eyes are, because of the pupils being rectangles. I look at the fuzzy goat in the photo, and then at the other animal antics pics as the vials siphon greedily filling with darkness. She tapes me up leaving a folded tab for easy removal which she points out and I say thank you so much, have a good day! You too she chirps. Quick and easy.

As I exit I survey the layout with signs and arrows akimbo. The guard is conversing at the table, relaxed and jovial. There’s a tall elderly man in the entry having a lively chat with the temperature checker. I glide by, trying to keep distance arriving in the sunshine breathing a sigh of relief. A petite dark-haired woman in groovy shades, a red shirt and white pants with matching sneakers is slowly trudging on the sidewalk, I nod and walk out into the lot to give her ample space. I wobble back around the building to my car and there’s a person sitting under a tree in the grass enjoying the sunny, breezy day. A sense of warmth and calm washes over me as I drive towards home.

Oh, there’s Whole Foods right here, should I go since I’m here already? I mull it over and feel tired, nope. I turn on a road just so I can drive by our old apartments. I crane my neck to catch a glimpse of our building and reminisce about how excited we were to look at the evergreen dotted skyline and bunnies in the grass below while laughing and cawing back at the crows hopping on the roof.

I marveled at how much has changed, at how far we’ve come, and how I’m doing what needs to be done, even though I don’t want to, lol. Progress. I’ll take it. There’s a quiet peacefulness here that I don’t ever want to take for granted. I arrived home and changed back into my pandemic uniform and patted myself on the back. I was hungry but would have to wait for my 4-hour window which would start at noon for the intermittent fasting. Another pat on the back. More progress, woot. There might be hope for me after all, lol.

Michelle Miyagi
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