Notes from The Lab Line

bloodsampleThe instructions are clear — nothing to eat for 12 hours before they take blood (and no alcohol for 36 hours…now there’s a real sacrifice). I always try to arrive at 6:45 a.m. to be first in line, and bring the newspaper to read while listening to National Public Radio. If it’s winter, I hope that no one arrives after me and gets out of the car to stand in the cold, because then I will have to get out and stand behind them. That’s where the newspaper comes in. If I stick my face in it, I can usually avoid the small talk that is the last thing I want while waiting for someone to draw my blood.

Of course that doesn’t stop other people in line from sharing detailed information about their various maladies and personal traumas. The last time I was there, a very tall woman who was second in line behind me, struck up a conversation with the older man who was third in line. They did jobs topic, then they did where they lived, and then she volunteered why she needed to get her blood test. I buried my head in the paper and tried to block it out. Read the editorials, I said to myself. Try to understand why the country is going to hell on bloodsample2roller skates. As hard as I tried to ignore the conversation, it was like Muzak that kept seeping into my brain.

Oh, shit. Did she just tell him that she got a hysterectomy? Did she have to go there? Did she have to tell a man? Isn’t there anything about our bodies that we can keep to family and good friends? Isn’t there something on the editorial page that is so engaging that I won’t hear what they are saying?

I don’t understand the compulsion to share medical background with strangers. Maybe it’s nerves. Some people get so worked up about their condition or the fear that they may have a serious illness, they are compelled to talk through their anxieties. HarleyFordMaybe they have no one else with whom they can verbalize these fears. Maybe they know it drives me crazy so they do it for spite. Why can’t they talk about their trucks like fifth man in line and sixth man in line? They have been going on for ten minutes about the new Harley Davidson Ford pick-up truck. I wish I was only able to hear their conversation, because I may not know a lot about trucks, but I do know one thing – a Ford does not have a uterus.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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