We spend so much time

full length of man sitting in city

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We spend so much time waiting.

These last two days I spent a lot of my time, energy, and brain power waiting to pick up my medications at the Walmart pharmacy.

Yesterday a woman with huge thighs and butt that jiggled under a tight pair of jeggings let her two sons rifle through a bin filled with bandages.

As the line slowly creeped and the time ticked away, I tried to distract my mind from the time, from my next appointment, from anything that would turn me into a whirling Tasmanian devil. I managed barely. I even managed to be polite when I found out that my wait was in vain.

Yesterday, I was angry. Today, well, I wonder why we spend so much time waiting and in this case, waiting for no result. I suppose I could have tried to cut the line, but that woman in front of me had the shoulders of a linebacker. She was even able to get all of the objects out of her boys’ hands with a cellphone tight to her ear as she was talking into the phone and to the pharmacy tech.

I tell myself that it is all good. I can practice my descriptive skills and maybe in one of my next stories, I could make the pharmacy tech a villain. Although she was less a villain and more an overworked and underpaid woman that just wanted to have a lunch break.

I suppose in this country we wait because we have that inner need for fairness and justice. We believe that the line is for all. No one gets to cut. At least not until you become sick in the middle of the store in some way.

I’ve been in Panama where you thought you were in line and find that you are being pushed away from the counter by the mob instead of getting your turn. I learned there to use my elbows and muscle my way in. I even got a hamburger and a Coke.

But this malaise of lines goes deeper for me. I have been in so many lines the past two weeks that I want to bang my head against the wall, causing brain damage of course, so I won’t have to do it again. There is a particular type of torture with lines.

 

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In the waiting room

adults airport black and white business

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When I hit the front gate of the base yesterday, I asked for building 20. Two months ago I had called the Pass and ID office for an appointment.

There was disbelief in the man’s voice. “First come. first served,” he said.

I asked for directions. “The same place as always,” was his answer.

I had to explain that the last time I got an ID, I was in Carson City, NV. It was easy to find the office. I just went to the building next to where my hubby worked, cross the gym, and up the stairs in the back. It was a small base so the building was easy to find.

“Just ask the guard at the gate,” he said.

So yesterday, after I handed my ID that would expire in twenty days, I asked. The gate guard was younger, less world-weary, than that anonymous voice on the phone. He kindly gave me good directions.

So I sat in a hard chair filled with waiting soldiers and a few civilians. I guess I am technically a civilian now even though I am a veteran. I did serve six years in the Navy.

I noticed that the cream walls hadn’t been painted in a long time. The chairs were older. The male and female soldiers wore neatly pressed camouflage with their ranks prominent on their upper arms.

My late hubby would have laughed at AF warriors wearing camou. He believed after being in Vietnam for three tours that rank patches should not be on them. It just made it easier for the enemy to shoot the officers, he would say.

As I waited for an hour, I was surprised at the shabbiness of this building. No one seemed to notice how old everything had gotten. I remember when this base had been shinier.

Then a young soldier sitting by me called me “Ma’am.”

I smiled. I couldn’t fool myself anymore. I was getting older with wrinkles. Not unlike this room.