A Symphony of Sickos

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I had enough time to pick up what I needed.  It shouldn’t take long.  

I hadn’t eaten anything substantial yet and since I was on that diet, my belly wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.  I turned into the lot and looked for a spot to park.  It looked like the parking lot of a theater during the opening weekend of that space opera people like.  I spoke too soon.  This might take a while.

Turning into a different row, I nearly ran into another car whose angry driver was paying no mind to the world around him.  My brain made gestures at him that my hands hadn’t the courage to make.  Onward.

Not a second later, I found a spot that was as far from the building as possible.  That’ll do, Donkey.  That’ll do.

My phone started to buzz.  It took a couple rings before I was able to retrieve it from my pocket because of the dang case I had on it.  When it came out, I swear I heard a popsound – the same sound on that old  Chordettes song, “Lollipop.”  I looked to see who it was.

It was my lunch.  My lunch was calling.  Calling to me and I was ready to answer that call with all of my heart and soul.  I accepted the call.

My heart and soul were a little disappointed.  Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious.  It just wasn’t a burrito.  Why can’t burritos be part of my diet?  Or my entire diet?

I told that food who was boss.  But, you know, respectfully.  We’re in a give and take relationship I guess.  I give burritos up, it takes pounds away.

After logging my food into the MyFitnessPal app (’cause I do that type of thing now) I painfully hopped out of the car and walked across the asphalt to my destination.  The cool air makes me cough.  Or maybe my body is trying to clear my airways.  Either way, I’m trying to hold that reflex back – it hurts.

I was on the campus, walking in a straight line directly to where I needed to be.  Oh man, there’s a guy walking past me.  Do I say something?  Maybe that nod thing that means ‘sup?’.   Or possibly the ‘top-of-the-morning’ nod.  What am I thinking?  It’s past noon.  That would be inappropriate.  Frankly, irresponsible.

“Howyadoin?” I mumble as one word.

He didn’t even look.  What has this world come to?  I got over it quickly.

There I was, just trying to walk into the building but my momentum was stunted thanks to the phone-zombie in front of me.  Let’s be real, lady.  I know you think you’re the only one walking on the entire planet right now, but I kind of need to get passed you.  kthx.

She didn’t seem to notice that I was now in front of her and in the building.  Looks like I won.

***

Left or right?  He didn’t specify when I talked to him on the phone.  Whatever, this one down the hall on the right is normally quieter.  I like that.

I arrive to see a bunch of humans gathered in front of a counter.  I figured there had to be some sort of order to it, even though it didn’t look that way.  Perhaps this was merely an artistic interpretation of what a line is supposed to look like.  You know, perspective?  Relativism?  Get with the times.  Do I have to explain everything to you?

My name wasn’t yet on the board above the counter.  I figured I had to stand in the “Check-In” line first.  That makes sense, right?  I’m not the only one to think that this was a logical conclusion.

More lemmings follow behind me and I’m pretty sure I heard “Is this the Check-In line?” ninety-four times.  One person who really stood out was the woman who blamed the current administration, the organization, the employees, the other people in line, and probably all of their mothers for the lines being so long.

Every few minutes, the employees behind the counter would call out a name and some lucky man or woman would be able to squeeze their way through the crowd and get their goods.

“Jeanne Davis!” the employee shouted.

The crotchety woman continued on with her griping and moaning to a young man who was kind enough to be a listening ear for her.

“…because Obamacare…”

I kept to myself.  I’m not much of a socializer in these situations.  In my solitude, I felt as if I was conducting a beautiful symphony of voices between the murmur of the crowd, the shouting from behind the counter, and the complaining I could hear behind me.

“…they need more people…”

“Jefferson Brown!”

“…open more lanes…”

“Lenore  DeWitz!”

“…see, there’s an open station right there…”

Once I reached the front of the line, I was called up to the counter with a wave of the hand.  I handed her my card and waited as she swiped it then pounded aimlessly at the keyboard.  Lady, you’re probably going to break it.  What did it ever do to you?

She asked what I was looking to pick up.  I told her that I didn’t know exactly what it was called but I knew what it was supposed to help my cough.  She nodded and responded with “That should be over at Pharmacy 1 for you.”

I walked away with nothing and turned around to head toward Pharmacy 1.  He didn’t specify at which pharmacy in the building I was to pick up my meds when I was on the phone with him.  I figured I would get there and they would fill my prescription then and there.  Go figure.

As I turned around, I felt all of the grumpy people staring at me with heat vision.  I could just imagine all of the hateful thoughts running through their minds.

“What an idiot.”

“I had to wait behind that doofus?”

“He looks too young to be at a pharmacy.  Let us mature folk through!”

Down the hall I went, so that I could stand in line some more and probably make another public mistake.  I turned the corner and was quickly thrust into a sea of sick, each of whom believed they should be closer to the front of the line than the person next to them.  I could almost smell the manure as I watched the cattle wait in their corral until their feeding time.

Once again, there were two lines.  One to check-in, one to pick up.  My name wasn’t on the board.  As it rotated, it showed a screen that instructed its few readers to stand in the “Check-In” line if their name didn’t appear on the board.  I followed directions.

The line was so long that it had to be broken in the middle in order to make a pathway for lost sheep, travellers, and rogues trying to skip straight to the “Pick Up” line.

A man in faded sweats tried to walk through this pathway but since he was so horizontally large, the woman in front of me would have had to move back to let him through.  She didn’t.  He grumbled “excuse me” as he tried to squeeze through.  She still didn’t move.  The woman had been looking the other way and must not have heard him.  Once she noticed she was in the way, she moved apologetically.  The grumbling bull was probably just upset that he was getting close to being steak on a plate.

Two people in front of me was a younger man, late 20s or early 30s, waiting in line.  He couldn’t stand still.  He was wearing one of those hats that can’t decide if it’s a beanie or a baseball cap.  He was sporting some designer track pants that looked to be made of some sort of fuzzy material.  The tightness of his shirt and the douchiness of his demeanor made him look like a VH1 reality TV star.

I felt a little guilty about judging him until I saw him sneak an obvious peek at a young woman’s backside as she walked past him.

I hear a mumble behind me.  Ahh, I’m being attacked!  Wait, no.  Sorry, false alarm.

“Can you believe these people?”  The man standing behind me, probably in his 60s, said to me.

“Yeah, we’re all waiting just as long as them-” he cut me off.

“All they do is gripe and moan.  Moan, moan, moan.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean-”

“I mean seriously.  Everyone has to wait just as long as them” he finished his thought.

“I was over by the other pharmacy and people were-”  As I tried to finish this thought, he started talking.  He looked at me straight in the eyes and just talked louder and louder until I just stopped.

“All they do is moan.  These people are so stupid.”

Did I just get dominated?  Was that an Alpha thing?  All I’m trying to do is strike up a conversation to pass the time.  Wow, you’re the worst.  I’m going to gripe and moan about you internally.

He had headphones in both ears.  Maybe he was listening to This American Life or his favorite Stones album so loudly that he didn’t realize that he was talking over me.  I’ll stick with that.

The line slowly moved.  After being in the pharmacy for 45 minutes, I was getting a little antsy.  I wasn’t about to start complaining about “The Man” getting me down like some others resorted to, but I was getting close.

The woman in front of me reached the front of the line.  With her right hand, she held an invisible pencil to an invisible scrap of paper in her left hand when she got to the counter.  Without hesitation, the clerk got her a writing utensil and paper.  I get it now.  Wow, that large guy from earlier really was a jerk!  

“I can help you here.”

I heard angels singing.  I heard trumpets sound.  I cartwheeled to the counter, stuck the landing, and gave the clerk my medical card.

“Yeah, your prescription is filled.”

I stood, waiting for further direction.

“Alright,” I said.  I guess that means to go to the other ridiculously long line.  I walked away and toward the end of the Pick-Up line.

Ha!  Pick-Up Line… someone, quick: think of a good pun!

I make my way to the end of the line for the third time.  My name is still not on the board.  Why even have the board?

More cattle flooded in and each time, without a doubt, at least five of them would ask “Is this the Pick-Up line?”

No, that’s in the next building over!  Man, I should have said that.  That’s gold.

Just like a convenience store, this pharmacy had drugs through which the cattle could browse while waiting.  A sign read above a small kiosk stocked with various over-the-counter paraphernalia: ACHY LEGS?

I see what you did there!  You clever, clever pharmacy!  My legs are achy from standing in this line – you’re right!

I could continue on about how I waited in line for another twenty minutes, but I’m getting really bored of even talking about it.  I can’t believe you’re still with me.

I neared the front of the line again.  A generous mustached man with a cowboy hat allowed me to go in front of him.

“Don’t worry about me, I can wait!”  said the jolly man.

I give the clerk my card and she hands me my prescription within fifteen seconds.  Seriously?  Couldn’t the Check In line do that?

I look back and the man was still letting people go in front of him.  My eyes continue to scan the room and I see fresh faces arrive and confusedly find their places in line.

Life goes on without me here.  I’m not the center of this.  And neither was that croaky lady in Pharmacy 2.  And neither was beanie-hat Jersey Shore man.  And neither was the Alpha Dog with headphones.  And neither was the Deaf woman.  And neither were any of the cattle in this pharmaceutical corral.

I made eye contact with the generous man.  I linked with him telepathically.

“Thank you for helping me with that existential and humbling experience,” I thought.

He responded, “A burrito does sound really good.  There should be a burrito diet that helps you lose weight”

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Christian Moore

Founder of Follow This Entertainment and co-host of Follow This Podcast. Christian is a husband, a writer, a musician, a hobbyist, and an idea man. He likes the LA Dodgers, food, beer, movies, literature, comics, and theology.  He does Marketing at a public library and is the Worship Director at a church. He studies Public Relations at California Baptist University.