Tuesday, September 29, 2009


One thing that all of my physical and psychological struggles this summer (pleurisy, change of meds, sick cats) have taught me is the tremendous power of patience, especially when you're the patient. It sounds cliched, I know, but I've come a long way from when I once had to lay still for an hour during a PET Scan and nearly lost my mind. For me, that experience at the time was equivalent to two weeks in solitary. It was that traumatic.

But now, after weeks of bloodwork, IVs, waiting rooms, tiny syringes with live-saving pet medicine, the excruciatingly slow process of stopping two meds and starting another, I realize I've come out much better on the other side.

To wit: the other morning I experienced something that might have really frustrated me before. I got to the bus stop - five blocks away, running late - only to realize that when I'd switched handbags that morning, I'd left my SmarTrip card at home. I scramble into my wallet and, to my relief, realized I had a single dollar and two quarters. Bus fare's only $1.35, but it was better to have more than to not have enough. One hurdle crossed; I still had to purchase and use a paper Metrorail ticket once I got to the station.

Now I'm lucky in that McPherson Square is a relatively mellow place to catch the train during rush hour. I'm heading out of the city, which helps, and only the orange and blue line stop there. I skip down the escalator, extracting my ATM card to make the purchase and realize there's a long line...at one single ticket dispenser. All of the others taunt us with "Out of Order" signs. Really? During rush hour? Okay. It's not so bad.

In fact, the guy ahead of me bails. As does a second guy. Sweet! I'm now second in line. And I quickly realize why they'd left. Standing in front of me were to very sweet, very slow elderly people trying to purchase what must have been their first Metro Cards ever. EVER. As the wife peers over her glasses at the screen, the husband drops in a dime. Clink! The dime's no good. So what does he do? He pops it back in the machine. Again. And again.

By that time the line is eight people deep and I'm wondering when the candid cameras are going to pop out and reveal that I've been a part of one of those 20/20 experiments on human behavior. But as the husband turns around, smiles at me and says with a chuckle, "The machine doesn't like the dime," and his wife finally, mercifully pulls out a dollar instead, I'm reminded that a little patience goes a long way.

After all, if I've sat around waiting to see if Harry was going to make it through the night; if my chest pains were just inflammation or something much, much worse; or whether my own brain had turned against me (it hadn't, thank goodness), then I could surely grant this couple a few minutes of patients as they navigate what, to them, must be a terribly complicated process.

Turns out I made it to work on time after all, and as I sipped my first cup of coffee of the morning, I realized things were pretty good, after all, if you just take the time to stop and enjoy the ride.


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