On Friday I had to drive to work. Or rather I had to drive to the parking garage where I normally park, the one next to a hospital. On a normal day, or at least what was a normal day a month ago, I would have parked in the parking garage and walked past the hospital on my way to work. This time I was going to the hospital, to the pharmacy just past the lobby, to pick up some prescription refills. And I was nervous. No, let me be honest. I was scared. I haven’t been enjoying the lockdown but, you know, you can get used to just about anything, and any trip out just reminds me that I have permanent lung damage from chemotherapy. Whether that really puts me at a greater risk from COVID-19 I don’t know, but I’d rather not, you know, risk it. I wondered if they could mail my prescription refills, or maybe send them via drone, and drop them into the backyard in a package with a little parachute, like in The Hunger Games. Since that wasn’t an option I got in the car and set out.
What should have been a familiar drive felt strangely unfamiliar. It’s only been a month and yet there was something unsettling about driving along roads I knew so well and yet hadn’t been down in so long. As I turned onto and crossed major intersections there were lots of cars on the road, more than I expected. What are all these people doing out? I wondered. And I remember reading somewhere that in other places under lockdowns from epidemics or for other reasons the number of car accidents actually went up because people were so stressed and distracted. I tried not to be distracted by such thoughts and focus on, you know, the road.
Normally I park on the roof of the parking garage. Not that many people park on the roof so it’s easier to get a spot close to the elevators. Also in the winter the sun warms the car throughout the day, even if it’s cloudy, so it’s nice and warm when it’s time to head home. And in the summer the sun warms the car throughout the day, even if it’s cloudy, so it’s unbearably hot when I first get in, but, you know, you can get used to just about anything. The air conditioner works pretty fast too. There’s a door into the area where the elevators are, though, and even though I was wearing gloves I was trying to avoid touching any surfaces, so I parked on a lower level. There weren’t that many cars in the parking garage so I was able to get a spot close to the elevators. I pressed the buttons with my elbow, went into the hospital lobby through the revolving doors, holding my hands close to my body, and was stopped by a nurse.
“I need to take your temperature,” she said. I pulled down my face mask and she stuck a metal thermometer, covered with protective plastic, in my mouth. Within seconds she told me my temp was normal and then said, “And I need you to leave that face mask here because that is awesome.”
Yeah, my mother-in-law made it, and I wasn’t giving it up. Sometimes I just wear it around the house, even when I don’t need it, because I like it, but that’s another story. It felt good to laugh with a stranger, something I didn’t realize I’d missed.
After I got my prescriptions I waved to the same nurse on my way out. I still felt anxious about the trip back home but I was already feeling better, like I was, you know, getting used to it.