Went to the doctor’s the other night and after failing to convince him I wasn’t long for this world, I hove up to the receptionists’ window to pay my co-pay. The receptionist was a bright young thing named Shannon which doesn’t signify except that she was clearly and beautifully Hispanic and it made me think how I like living in America in the 21st Century and that there are McNallys and O’Rourkes somewhere who’ve just christened their newborn daughters Juanita and Lupe, I hope in Arizona and Alabama.
At any rate, Shannon was brisk and cheerful and sincerely professionally friendly---that is she was able to convey that she was glad to deal with me because I was a patient and her job is to help patients and she likes that part of her job.
At home, after pulling into the driveway, I checked my cell and saw that I’d missed a call on the drive home. It was the doctor’s office. I called back. Shannon picked up.
“Oh, Mr Mannion, I’m very sorry, but I forgot to give you back your credit card.”
I didn’t correct her, even though she was wrong on two counts. First, it was my debit card, and second, I was sure she didn’t forget to give it back, I forgot to pick it up off the counter. I assured her it was no big deal. One of those things. Could’ve happened to anyone. The office was about to close for the night but Shannon promised to put the card in an envelope with my name on it which she would leave up front for me to collect in the morning. I thanked her and she thanked me, as if I was doing her a favor by letting her do me a favor.
Next morning I went back.
No Shannon. I was greeted by middle-aged blonde of no obvious ethnicity, whose name I don’t know and whose name tag I couldn’t read because she wasn’t wearing it, but let’s call her Doris.
Did I say I was greeted?
I was glared at.
Doris glared. She had an expressive glare. It said, What are you doing blocking the view of nothing I prefer to see when I look up from my computer?
I explained myself. “Shannon said she’d leave it in an envelope right up front,” I finished up.
Doris glared a different glare. This one said, You mean you’re not even a patient here to see a doctor and you’re bothering me this early in the day? But she looked for the envelope.
She looked by turning her head a few degrees to the right. Then she turned it a few degrees to the left.
“I don’t see it,” she said.
It was my turn to glare. My glare came with the semblance of a smile, but it still said, Would you mind taking another look or would that kill you?
Doris glared back, this glare full of a suppressed sigh, then stood up and walked a few feet towards the back of the receptionists workspace to a desk where she asked two women if they knew anything about a bank card Shannon might have left for someone.
The women shook their heads. Doris returned to the window and glared.
“I don’t know where it is. I just checked with our lost and found. They don’t know where it is either.”
I didn’t glare back. I goggled. That’s it? You’re done? my goggle said.
Doris said, “Shannon will be in this evening, if you want to stop back.”
“Um…I sort of need the card now.”
“Well, she’s in school all day, I wouldn’t know how to get in touch with her. You’d better come back or call.”
I got patient. Very patient. Extremely patient. Patient in a way that’s ruder than screaming, which is what I wanted to do.
“I’m not coming back later. Shannon said she’d leave it in an envelope right up front.”
Doris glared, but this glare didn’t say anything except that she hated my guts and probably Shannon’s too. She looked around her work station again, this time actually moving a few feet to her right and guess what she found tucked behind the credit card machine where it was held up in a way that made it a big white frame around the machine.
“Are you Lance Mannion?” Doris asked, reading off the envelope.
Happy ending. But now I’m wondering. Do you think Doris was ever a Shannon? How often does life turn a Shannon into a Doris? Life is full of twenty year old Dorises. You can still encounter a fifty year old Shannon. The world would be a better place if it was run entirely by Shannons. Trouble is when a Shannon is running things she inevitably has to run them with at least one Doris on hand.
As I left the window I looked at the envelope.
Shannon had beautiful handwriting, of course.
She’d also written my birthday under my name, her insurance that only the real Lance Mannion would be given the card.