August 22nd – 3:30 pm
The doctor tilted back his head and looked through his glasses.
“Are you exercising regularly?” His fingers were cold under my jaw.
We stood in a tan room with florescent lighting. I answered his questions as he inspected me like a prized horse. The stethoscope slid across my chest under the paper gown. “Do you smoke?” I took a deep breath. “How many drinks would you say you have a week?” I took another.
His voice was direct and clinical, as were his pokes and prods. The more he talked, the more my answers became rhythmic. My responses were being weaved together in his mind. It was like watching a movie with a hidden meaning I had yet to comprehend.
The questions went deeper. “How many sexual partners have you had recently?” He tapped my knee and I kicked involuntarily. I told him my diet, my habits, and about the pain in my foot. He listened as I elaborated on my energy levels. Finally, I turned my head and coughed.
As he sat on his stool, his white beard bristled beneath his thumb. He adjusted his glasses and switched gears, diagnosing instead of questioning.
He explained my foot pain and its causes. His hands waved over his laptop, drawing possibilities for my ailments. He ordered blood work, wrote me a prescription, and recommended two brands of shoe inserts.
I thanked him and put my pants back on (a sentence I never thought I’d write). Although I was clothed, I still felt oddly naked. I hoped his abilities could distill a solution from the mash of my symptoms. I went to work the next day… August 23rd – 4:00 pm
I tilted my head and looked at her sideways.
“Are you paid weekly or bi-weekly?” I scribbled the numbers on a notepad.
We sat in a white room with florescent lighting. She answered my questions as I coaxed her salary into the air. My pen slid across the page, but I tried not to look at it. “What’s your rent?” She winced and told me. “How often do you have to dip into your savings?” She winced again.
My voice was rough and deductive, as were the figures I recorded. The more she talked, the more possibilities I trimmed away. Her expenses flowed into a list and I began to pick out the pattern. I was editing the movie she’d already filmed.
My questions went deeper as my voice softened. “How many children do you have?” I smiled as she told me their ages. She told me their diets, their educations, and the cost of their after school program. I listened as she explained her car loan. Finally, she admitted she didn’t know the interest rate.
As I leaned back in my chair, my beard brushed beneath my knuckles. I saw her cash flow trickling through a delta into the Boston economy. The afterschool program was a farmer, desperate for irrigation; the car loan a factory, syphoning her resources. One was necessary, the other rigid and greedy. And so her hard work began.
I explained her empty bank account and my reasons. My fingers traced the numbers, pausing on each for effect. She squinted as water filled her eyes. My voice softened further. I had her sign a release, handed her a number, and recommended two types of debt management.
She nodded and thanked me in a whisper. She closed her wallet, but I already knew its contents. I hoped my abilities had revealed a solution in the infinite list of transactions. I could tell her the story, but only she could author it.
I left work with an odd sense of deja vu…