I was feeling put out; inconvenienced and impatient.
Thanks to those industrious criminals who’ve decided to make their own medication, the singular antihistamine that effectively relieves my seasonal allergy symptoms is now available only behind the counter. I have to wait in line at one of the few pharmacies that still carry it. And I have to sign for it, too, presumably so I can be quickly apprehended should I purchase enough to use it in some criminal fashion.
Aside: I don’t even cook food. I’m not about to start cooking up medicine. Anyway. . .
There were two men in line in front of me. The first man, the one taking forever, was probably in his late thirties. He wore loose jeans and a sweatshirt and occasionally turned back to smile apologetically as the clerk took her sweet time trying to get his insurance to go through. She seemed to know the man, or at least be familiar with him, and made polite conversation while trying multiple magic formulas.
Finally, she asked for his wife’s social security number. He had to call his wife to get the number. After he got it he kept talking to her, as though we had all day and night to stand there and wait. Her social security number didn’t work either so he told the clerk it was okay, he’d figure something out, but she insisted on continuing her efforts.
The fellow in front of me who was second in line, starting swaying and shifting his weight from foot to foot like a chained elephant, possibly with the idea that somebody might notice his obvious distress and open another register. It was right there–a register with nobody on it. Open it already.
I was asking myself how long I’d be willing to stand there when a second clerk appeared in the window next to the first clerk. She greeted the man in jeans and asked how he was doing, oblivious to the long line and the empty register where she clearly ought to be. Then she seemed to suddenly notice the man was bald.
“Hey, where’d your hair go?” she asked cheerfully.
“Well,” he said bashfully, “I didn’t want to have more hair than my wife. . . I shaved it.”
And right then, it was as though time stood still.
The talk continued. They discussed the man’s wife, her improvement, and the oncologist’s advice. And I wished I was invisible because if anybody happened to look, they would have seen such shame washing over me. I should be grateful that I have twenty minutes to spend standing in line, that I can stand at all, that I have enough money to buy medicine and insurance to pay for most of it.
Soon afterward, somebody opened a second register. They quickly helped the swaying man, and I was no longer in a hurry but they got me out of there in a jiffy. I’m home now, comfortable, fed, and medicated for allergies, but I can’t stop thinking about that man and his wife. I wonder if they have children and what their days are like.
Next time I’m stuck in line, I’ll pray for the people ahead of me instead of praying that they’ll hurry up.
Prayer: Dear God, Please forgive my selfishness and guide me as I focus on others, sharing your care and compassion. Thank you for your enduring love. Amen
About the Author:
Sally Rowland lives with her husband and two teenage children in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains where she produces entertainment at a local tourist attraction. She relishes family time as well as solitary pursuits like reading and trying to solve New York Times crossword puzzles. She strongly admires her daughter for her bravery and resilience in dealing with the disabling effects of a traumatic brain injury sustained in a school bus accident.
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