All The Lonely People …..

On “Thanksgiving Eve” I felt pretty sick.  I needed my meds from the pharmacy and opted for drive-thru service since wading through the crowds at CVS was something I wasn’t up to.

A white car idled at the window in front of me and I pushed around the debris in my purse to get my wallet.  I could hear the muffled lady’s voice yakking with the Pharmacy Tech at the window.  I thumbed through my wallet and pulled out some cash and my CVS Care Card.  Thunder bellowed through my bowels.  I wanted to get home to the bathroom, to the safety and certainty of being NEAR a bathroom.  The white car continued to idle at the window.  The lady accepted the clipboard from the Pharmacy Tech, left her signature on the appropriate line, and handed it back.  My stomach grumbled menacingly.   The staff handed her the blue & white bags.  Happy this transaction was over, I waited for the car to pull forward.  It didn’t.

I could see the driver’s profile smiling at the man in the window.  Through the low music of my radio and over the hum of my car’s idling engine, I could hear the lady’s words.  I picked up on bits such as “big plans tomorrow?” and “I hope you’re not working.”  She tilted her head to the side and smiled, telling the man about a pie she plans to bake.  My stomach, as if alarmed by this, belched inside and sputtered.  Glaring at the white car ahead of me, I was dreaming of ramming her back bumper.  I was telepathically screaming “GO!  LEAVE!  BE GONE!!!”

A male voice murmured from the window and the lady smiled and nodded.  Her arm slipped through her open window and hugged the car door as she leaned toward him, listening and smiling.  My stomach lurched inside and I clutched it, promising if it behaved it could unload in just a few minutes.  Just a few minutes.

The banter continued.  A car pulled up behind me.  I glanced at the clock.   I had been sitting here for nearly ten minutes.

“…. yeah, pecan,” she smiled.

She talked about her meds.  It wasn’t a question about how to take them or anything having to do with the transaction. It was about the medication she had been taking before and how it made her tired.  I was getting tired.  I thought about pulling to the front and waddling through the mob I imagined inside, judging by the cars parked out front.  It just wasn’t worth it to sit here and be aggravated.  But then I was afraid of the potential for diarrhea.  I was afraid I would be trapped in a longer line.  This lady HAD to be done.  Surely deliverance was on the horizon.   Surely she had glanced in her side-view mirror at some point and saw people were waiting.

Mentally I was screaming, “Can’t you see you’re not the only f**kin’ person who needs their medications before Thanksgiving?”

Nodding and smiling, her head bobbing like a fishing lure that caught something big, she continued babbling about pies and expired medications and now her bunion .

I closed my eyes for a second and prayed for her.  I could almost hear my sponsor’s voice advising it.  I had my cell phone.  Maybe I ought to call someone from the program.   My mind racing, I mumbled the Serenity Prayer and mentally took inventory of ……. the meds I had at home.  Maybe this could wait til Friday.  But I couldn’t be sure and some of them were for my son.  He was going out of town.

I opened my eyes.  White car still sitting there.  Driver still yapping.  My fingers tightened around my steering wheel.  I started silently judging her:  selfish, self-absorbed, oblivious, stupid, chatterbox…….. all these angry, ugly words spewed in rapidfire grunts.

I was dimly aware of the radio announcer announcing what had been and what was to come:  Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles.  The music blended in and the announcer faded out.

“Ahhh, look at all the lonely people.  Ahhh, look at all the lonely people……..”

Just then?  I realized I was possibly looking at all the lonely people.  Certainly there was one in the white car.  Possibly one in the CVS window.   Perhaps, on this Thanksgiving Eve, this would be this lady’s last interaction until the holiday was over.  Maybe there would be a hasty visit from a grown child who was eating a small turkey breast with her out of obligation and little more.  Perhaps she has a spouse with Alzheimer’s and being with him and his dim recollections is worse than being alone.   Maybe she was just lonely.

And I sat there.  My grasp on the wheel loosened and I listened to the song.  My stomach rumbled periodically and I admonished it to shut up.

On Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving Day, I stayed home with my thundering stomach while my family went out and enjoyed a big feast. I knew they would be back. I knew they were sorry I wasn’t there — that I was wanted somewhere.  I was thankful for this, for my house being a home, that I have Chicken & Rice Soup for the tum’, and …….. that I could hear my Higher Power speaking to me through the radio.  My hastily mumbled prayer had been answered.   I was also thankful for that patient and kind Pharmacy Tech whose name tag read “Josh” for doing more than dispensing meds to this lady and making her evening a little happier and meaningful while the cars piled up behind her.  He had all the time in the world.