Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Another Waiting Room

Today was another waiting room day. Gray industrial carpet, metal frame chairs with easy to clean light cushions, ivory white semi matte paint on the walls. Windowless. Signing in on a clipboard with a list of names, the ones at the top crossed out, then sitting and waiting to be called. The local newspaper spread out on a low table covering some outdated magazines. A TV set tuned in to Regis and Kathy Lee, conversing insipidly about nothing.

Patients come out the door from the exam rooms, avoiding eye contact, handing paperwork to the receptionist, getting lab orders and little appointment cards to take home with them and they leave. New patients walk in and sign the clipboard and sit.

Finally getting called to an exam room, going through weigh in, blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate, all the vitals with the nurse. After not really seeing a doctor for almost 30 years, this routine has become too familiar. I shift the weights on the balance beam of the scale myself because I can do it faster than most nurses. She leaves and more waiting for yet another doctor in a long string of doctors. At least this guy is new to me so I can have a little fun with him while bringing him up to speed, recycle some anecdotes from previous appointments.

He does his thing, and now I am standing in front of the receptionist getting my lab order and appointment card, giving her some pages from previous lab tests ordered by other doctors to copy for my new file here.

I turn to leave and hear a slightly hoarse voice, soft but confident, and turn to look at an old guy, older than I have any realistic expectation of ever being. He is saying, “Nice coat.” I have never seen him before. He is sitting in the same chair I sat in when I came in, his eyes full of life.

I stop and look at him, perhaps a bit too jadedly. Smiling, he repeats himself, “Nice coat”. Well, it is a nice coat. It’s a plush fabric winter one, black, with what looks like snow on it until you realize it’s a picture of a wolf looking directly at you when you see it from the back.

“My daughter gave it to me,” I say. “She travels around a lot so she sees things I never would “. He seems genuinely pleased to hear this so I continue, “My wife has one like it, except the white and black colors are reversed.” I pause for a moment, we exchange nods, and I leave, wondering who was seeing Krishna more clearly in that brief blip in time, him or me. I conclude that it wasn’t even a contest, he was so much more in tune, so much more in harmony than I was, so much in the moment. I will probably never know what name he calls Krishna, but I have no doubt he knows Him.


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