Thursday, April 28, 2005

Veterans Day - profmarcus

ok, it was only a half-day...


The glass doors slid apart with a quiet swoosh. Three men walked in, one after the other and lined up behind the log-in desk. They backed away briefly in unison as another man who had just finished maneuvered his electric cart away from the counter with practiced, back-and-forth bursts of motion.

When it came his turn, the third man set down the briefcase containing his laptop computer and files and handed his card to the desk clerk.

After scanning the card, the clerk squinted at his computer screen. "8 o'clock, blood work in the lab. 1 o'clock, Green Team on the 4th floor."

"I was supposed to see the pharmacist at..."

"That was cancelled," the clerk interrupted.

"Yeah, it was cancelled and then it was re-scheduled," the man said, reaching for his appointment sheet.

"Yeah, it was cancelled and then it was cancelled again," the clerk said, dismissively shaking his head.

"Nobody told me," the man muttered, taking his card back from the clerk, slipping it in his shirtfront pocket and turning to walk down the hall to the blood draw area.

"Tonight, President Bush holds his first prime time televised news conference in nearly a year," the television newscaster intoned as the man found a seat in the waiting area.

"I didn't sleep worth shit last night," complained the scrawny man in the brown, knit stocking cap as he leaned over to another man sitting in a wheelchair in front of him who was concentrating on flipping up the footrest with his foot. "How did you sleep?"

"I woke up about 4," the equally scrawny man in the wheelchair said. "I'm really tired of their bullshit here, you know?" he continued. "I'm just not going to cooperate with 'em any more, you know what I mean?"

The first man nodded. "I told my doc, 'This must be as good as it gets 'cause it don't get no better.' Screw it."

"If I had two legs," the man in the wheelchair said over his shoulder to the man in the hat, "I'd get me a horse and the equipment and head into the woods. Only come out when I needed more meds."

A man in a white lab coat appeared in the doorway with a clipboard and started calling names.

"See that guy?" the man in the wheelchair said in a voice meant to be overheard. "He's one of the assholes."

Hearing his name, the man with the briefcase picked it up and headed across the hall, retrieving the card from his shirt pocket and handing it to the lab technician as he went.

"Wait right here," the technician said as he took the card to a computer and ran it under a scanner.

The man leaned against the door jamb, watching as lab technicians scurried to and fro with stoppered tubes full of thick, dark red liquid.

"Take chair number 4, there on your left," the technician said.

The man walked down between the row of stations, put down his case, settled into the chair and pulled the arm rest across in front of him. As he rolled up his sleeve, he watched as a woman tech drew blood from the man across the row.

"It's hard to find a good one on you," the tech said to the man as she rubbed her thumb around on the inside of his elbow, probing for a good vein.

"I've been pricked so many times I'm not surprised," the man chuckled.

"There's one," she said as she slid the needle quickly and carefully under the skin.

"Good for you," he said.

The technician with the clipboard reappeared, laid it on a table with a clatter and walked over to the man with the briefcase.

"Your full name? Your full social? Ok, good," he said. "You from Colorado?"

"You recognize the first three numbers, I see," the man said. "Yeah, I'm from Colorado. You too?"

"Nah, but I see so many I start to recognize where they're from. Now that this state's grown so much, they've added some numbers and I'm not sure I know about Nevada any more."

"Yeah, I've got a head full of trivia myself," the man said. "Area codes, zip codes."

The technician laughed and nodded vigorously, obviously pleased to meet another collector of odd information.

"I've expanded, though" the man said. "Country codes."

"Wow," the technician exclaimed in unconcealed admiration. "Country codes. Never thought of that." He paused as he wrapped a blue elastic pressure strip around the man's arm and over the small ball of cotton he had placed stragetically over the tiny puncture. "Well, there you go. You have a good day, sir," he said.

"You too," the man said as he lifted his jacket and briefcase off the floor. He looked at his watch. "Hmmm. 8:30," he thought to himself, "and I should probably be back by 12:30. I wonder what time Borders opens. Oh, well. Starbucks has wi-fi and they're right there too."


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