Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Minute by Minute

Her voice startles me in the somber quiet of the waiting room.

"What is that thing?" she asks.

I look over in surprise and then explain it is a Sony pocket ereader. It holds books and news.

She asks me in garbled language whether it goes online. At least I think that's what she means. It sounds as though she doesn't know much about computers to ask the question. I explain it does not, and that I have to upload books from the computer myself. She glazes over, and I turn away, back to my own business.

Three seats away, a fellow's iphone blurts out a sentence fragment--"Hello" in a big, sunny female voice that shatters the waiting room's silence like glass breaking. He stifles it and curls up into himself. I go back to my reading while particles of guilt pick at my brain's outer layers. The woman next to me. She only wanted someone to chat with. Her eyes when I look are restless, nervous. Pill bottles poke out of her hand bag. She's taken a seat too close to me. Only one empty chair separates us. That's bad form. The guy's iphone blurts out again, and once more his quick stifle.

Are we becoming a generation of isolationists? All of these electronic gizmos...with them, we can communicate in other ways instead of with those in the present. And for me, an old-fashioned book is easy to lay aside, but an electronic ereader demands respect. It is too important to lay aside. All shiny and trendy. It's not some paper book with bent corners and dirty, crinkled pages.

In the exam room, I wait some more. The doctor hurries in. He signs insurance papers for me while at the same time scans a monitor. I correct and add to some of what catches his eye. He helps me to the exam table and starts the required poking and prodding. All comes to a complete halt listening to my heart. He puts his hand on my chest and listens more. The silence in the room deafens me. He asks when I last had an EKG. He says he heard an extra heart beat. I've been without insurance for a while, so I tell him at least three years have gone by. He orders one and says he'll be back.

Later, after the test, he smiles and states my EKG is better than his. I'm released from the brief worry and switch back to regular mode, pondering as is my fashion, if the remark is from the doctor's box of standard words and phrases, like, "Take two aspirin and call me in the morning." It doesn't matter. Standard phrases mean life is normal. That's the main thing. Normal.

Copyright 2010 JO Janoski

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