Friday, May 8, 2009
Take a number, and take a nap
5:33 p.m.: Park my car in front of the Imaging Center. Tell myself that I am such a clever clog for checking in 90 minutes early for a 7 p.m. MRI appointment.
5:34 p.m.: Woman at the reception counter tells me that the MRIs are running "two to three hours behind." Advises me to go home and come back at 9 o'clock. I take a seat in one of the three chairs facing the counter. "You want to sit there and wait five hours?!" the receptionist asks.
5:36 p.m.: Set up camp in the reception area, potentially for the entire evening or even overnight. Lay my backpack down on the chair to the left; pile my newspapers on the chair to the right; kick off my sneakers. Territory established, I fold my arms and glower in the receptionist's general direction.
5:41 p.m.: Begin to doubt that I have enough glower in me to last five hours.
5:45 p.m.: Receptionist beckons me to the counter with her finger. Hands me a clipboard with a form to complete.
5:47 p.m.: Accidentally check the "yes" box after the question "Have you ever been wounded by shrapnel?" Wonder if I am harboring some long-suppressed battlefield memories. Cross out the "yes" and draw a series of circles around "no." My form looks as if it has been wounded by shrapnel.
5:52 p.m.: Hand form and clipboard back to the receptionist. Have potentially four and half more hours to kill before it's time for my MRI.
5:54 p.m.: Unfold Thursday's edition of the L.A. Times. Find myself captivated by an article that reveals that employees of In-N-Out Burgers are held to "rigorous standards of performance and behavior."
6:01 p.m.: Glower over the brim of the newspaper at the receptionist.
6:01:30 p.m.: Shift my glance to the waiting area's only other occupant, a bald man roughly my age who hasn't budged from his seat or changed position since I walked through the door. Attempt to establish camaraderie by pointing at a pretend wristwatch and rolling my eyes.
6:13 p.m.: Book slips from the bald man's hands and lands on the floor with a thud. Wonder if he may be dead.
6:13:15 p.m.: Mood brightens. If the bald man is dead, that means I may get in sooner for my MRI.
6:17 p.m.: Hear faint snoring. Sigh heavily and begin to read the entertainment section of the paper.
6:21 p.m.: Nervously ditch the newspaper after realizing that I am sexually attracted to the new Spock.
7:00 p.m.: "Two and a Half Men" begins on the waiting room television. Receptionist moves her chair closer to the screen and turns up the volume to a near-deafening level.
7:03 p.m.: Phone rings; after several rings, receptionist answers. Think I hear her tell the caller that she is busy. She hangs up and resumes watching "Two and a Half Men."
7:07 p.m.: Decide I would rather face waterboarding than continue listening to Charlie Sheen and the laughter that follows every one of his lines. Try to obliterate the screech of the television by thinking loudly.
7:08 p.m.: Desperately struggle to think of anything but Charlie Sheen. Find myself trying to remember if Emilio Estevez is a Baldwin brother or a Sheen distancing himself from Charlie.
7:09 p.m.: Mind richochets; settles on Alec Baldwin. Wonder if Howard Stern is still making fun of him on his radio show that no one ever talks about.
7:10 p.m.: Mind darting all over the place. Try to pinpoint the year Alec Baldwin got fat. Was it before or after "Glengarry Glen Ross"? Was it when he started to get political? Does IMDB state when actors get fat? Now that Ben Affleck is political, will he get fat? Could Ben Affleck be the next Alec Baldwin? The next John Candy?
7:12 p.m.: Door to the exam room pops open. A woman in scrubs calls out a name. Not mine. Bald man wakes up, picks up his book, and follows the woman in scrubs into the exam area.
7:13 p.m.: Begin to stare at the door to the exam room, willing it to open. I've been here 99 minutes, and may have hours more to wait.
7:29 p.m.: "Two and a Half Men" finally ends. Television volume restored to bearable level.
7:47 p.m.: Door swings open! I must be the Amazing Kreskin. Woman in scrubs says good night to the bald man, who's wearing a satisfied grin and buttoning his shirt. Wonder if I inadvertently made my MRI appointment at a massage parlor fronting as an imaging center.
7:47:15 p.m.: Woman with scrubs calls my name. I'm in! And just 47 minutes after my schedule appointment. Wink at receptionist as I pass. Tell myself I am a clever clog after all.