Waiting Room

Going to the doctor is like going to church. Not that I think doctors are gods, but they certainly do. You know what I mean. You dress your best and smell your best in hopes that these gods will magically heal your ailment.
In my case it was a swollen eye that needed supernatural intervention. It ached and stung and dripped causing me unbearable misery but I could still see. Who wouldn't do everything possible to retain their sight? You might understand. You might not. A poor person's plight. This or that. A little more groceries or the shoes in the store window. A logical person would have chosen to buy enough food for the week but I wanted to appease the gods. It seemed a small price to pay for healthy eyes.
My appointment was one week away. Eye surgery. Nervous doesn't quite describe the pangs of intense panic I felt. For seven days the procedure loomed over my head. The best distraction was polishing my now favorite shoes. They were brand-new and already shiny black but the act of polishing soothed my nerves and the smell of new calmed my aching eye.
My old shoes were retired in a deserted corner of my apartment. The leather was wrinkled and worn out. The soles were lifted despite many attempts to glue them back on and the left shoe had a severe hole in the toe. They pleaded with my eye for attention and I could not deny them that right because they had served me well many years. I stopped polishing, walked over to them, removed their laces for later use and placed them respectfully back down.
I went back to polishing their replacement. As I worked I was assured that the gods would be nice to me. They could never know that for seven days I went with a little less fuel in my belly to look important. It was a small price to pay to win the favor of their craft.

***


The day of my appointment finally arrived. My stomach was upside down. My eye was swollen, red and sore. With nausea and eye pain I took a seat in the waiting room. I was fifteen minutes early -- 12:45.
The chair was uncomfortable. I nervously shifted in my seat and covertly scanned the room wondering what everyone had. Of all the patients, my eye looked the worst but no one stared.
A god stopped in the doorway and looked at someone's chart. We all looked at him hoping to be the next chosen one.
"Mrs. Little" he finally called.
She happily stood up as if she had won the lottery. The rest of us went back to waiting.
It was already past one o'clock. I was sure that I was going to be the next lottery winner but the next god that came called someone else's name. I sat there trying not to think of eye surgery but it was impossible. I'm afraid of needles. An operation meant not only needles but a scalpel cutting into the soft tissue of my eye as well. I was certain that I would throw up from sheer fear but somehow I managed to control the contents of my stomach.
By 2:30 all of the faces in the room had changed; all except mine. This was a sign. I was next. I was relieved that the waiting portion of my torture would soon be over and wondered if the actual surgery was going to be as bad as I had imagined. The next god stopped by the door. I gathered my things before he spoke and half stood up when he said, "Mr. Goldwin". I sat back down stunned that I was being so callously neglected. Mr. Goldwin had entered the waiting room hours after me. How could he be next? Completely annoyed, I went to the secretary and politely inquired about my appointment. She assured me that I had not been forgotten so I slowly walked back to my seat.
My eye began to throb along with an aching head. I sat and watched as the patients left the room one by one until there were only two of us left. A quick glance at the clock on the wall informed me that it was now 4:15. I was hungry, thirsty, and tired of sitting. My eyes were closed and my head propped up in one hand when I heard someone say, "Mrs. Garner."
I opened my eyes to see the little old lady struggle out of her seat. Well, at least I had the waiting room to myself and I was now 100% sure that I was next in line. A few minutes after Mrs. Garner was called, I saw the secretary leaving for the day. She looked at me as she walked past the waiting room. I wonder what she was thinking when our eyes met?
I wasn't called until after the old lady returned to retrieve her coat. There was a doctor working with the god who was about to cut into my eye. He prepared me for the operating table and I was surprised that I didn't have to remove my shoes. A phone call interrupted and the doctor had to leave. On his way out, he turned, looked at me lying on that malevolent table and said, "Whoa, really big shoes!"
My face was covered but my one eye was exposed and now being doused with disinfectant. I could hear both gods laugh as I held onto the table to brace myself for the imminent needle. I was injected five times on the outside of my lower eyelid and each time felt like a bee sting. Afterwards, I was petrified at the sight of a small scalpel approaching my eye but I didn't feel a thing.
As horrifying as the whole experience was, the surgery lasted only about twelve minutes. When it was over, my eye ached underneath the patch that was placed over it. I carefully sat up and the first thing I saw, with my one good eye, were my brand new expensive shoes.



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