So, I’m sitting quietly in a swivel chair in the lobby at the VA, feeling anxious as usual but nothing to cause the sleeping lion inside me alarm. Hubby was already in his room waiting for the colonoscopy. Neither of us wanted to be there, but since cancer invaded his colon several years ago and he only has a foot of it left, he must keep close tabs on it. Doctor’s orders. And mine.
The mall-like lobby was like a ghost town of vacant chairs except for one all the way across the room. There was no one breathing on me and I wasn’t breathing on anyone else, so I removed my mask and sat minding my own business checking my emails and texting my son.
About twenty minutes into my solitude, a young woman from out of nowhere leaned over one of the marked off couches fifty yards away, her face covered with a stark white mask, and scolds, “Ma’am. You’re required to wear a mask.”
Maybe it was due to the stress of our refrigerator conking out and having to buy a new one. Or that we had to toss a week’s worth of groceries, or had to use a cooler and be without a fridge for a week. Maybe it was due to Bella, our four-legged greyhound-mix, waking me up every thirty minutes barking. Whatever the reasons were, the sleeping lion woke up.
Lions don’t take kindly to being harassed; especially old, irritable ones with anxiety disorders. My hackles raised to the ceiling. I said it didn’t make sense why I had to wear a mask when there was no one around and I’m just sitting here waiting for my husband to come out of his procedure.
Suddenly, her sweetness melted away like cotton candy on a child’s slobbering tongue and scorned, “Either you wear the mask or you will be escorted from the building!”
All right all right, I snorted to myself. I’ll put on the stupid mask! But when she strutted out of sight down the long corridor, her heels kicking up enough dust to choke an elephant, the mask magically came to life and jumped back on my lap.
A whole ten minutes later, she came back more huffy than when she strutted off and even had the audacity to threaten me with calling security.
That did it! The lion jumps on all fours ready to pounce! Who does she think she is telling a woman three times her age what to do? Determined to win the battle of the wills, the lion, roared, “Go ahead! call the whole army! I don’t care!”
I nearly felt sorry for her, struggling to keep her balance in her patent leather stilettos as she stormed off. Great! Now a platoon of security guards is coming to put me in a straight jacket and haul my sassy butt to jail.
I grabbed my pocketbook and hustled to the lady’s room; a room colder than Alaska with one toilet, a sink, and a lock on the door. Good! She can’t come in here and drag me out by the hair and in front of a firing squad.
Well, you did it again, I scolded myself. Just when you think you’re getting better, you’re not. Now, look at the mess you got me in! Do you know how foolish you look? When will you ever learn to keep your mouth shut and just do as you’re told?
On and on the battle between me, myself, and I went. Finally, I told us all to shut up! People are going to think I died in here!
Taking a deep breath, I unlocked the door, praying no one was standing there waiting with handcuffs. Good! The coast is clear, I can breathe now. Now, put on the mask, find a place to sit, and behave yourself! I want to get through this day in one piece!
So I tip-toed to a quiet place and sat by myself and waited, hoping no one will recognize this crazy person behind the mask; we all look crazy behind the mask.
About fifteen minutes later, a stocky, ruddy-faced security guard invaded my quiet space and planted himself six feet in front of me. At least he was practicing social distancing, or I might have been tempted to report him.
Like a stone-faced guerrilla, he stared down at me, his navy blues and stripes and badges and patriotic mask as intimating as a gun to my head.
Still trembling and my heart pounding like a sledgehammer, I glared up at him, ready and willing to defend my rights, which I did . . . Without getting thrown in jail.
Hubby came through his colonoscopy. The inner lion went back to sleep and the three of us made it out of there alive!