NUMBERS by Dixie Ayala
After I checked in at the lab for bloodwork, and was told I was number 65, a lady beckoned me to come and sit in the chair next to her, which had been vacated by number 45.
My thoughts swirled, what happened to me being a person with a name? I flashed back to when my husband was in the Navy and I was pregnant with our son, Todd. I was the last four digits of my husband’s social security number. I was never called by name at any of my appointments, only by number. The Navy’s philosophy at that time was - if we had wanted you to have a wife, we would have issued you one in your sea bag. I didn’t know back then I had rights or should be treated with dignity.
I thought we had come a long way since then, but once again I am being called by a number. At least it was my number this time.
The room was packed so I was grateful for the kindness of the lady who invited me to sit next to her. She had a nice smile and was the only friendly person in the whole place. I noticed she wore a black scarf draped entirely around her head and neck, a long, black, heavy dress, leggings and shoes.
When I sat down she said to me, “Your clothes are so pretty”. I thought about what I had on - a pink top, secured at the neck with a rose beaded pin I had made, black shrug and pants, black and white tennis shoes. I also wore a bracelet I made from beads and charms.
I looked at her and felt a sense of freedom, a freedom I take for granted. I saw some kind of longing in her eyes. I felt gratitude I could wear what I wanted, go where I wanted, and believe what I wanted. My sense was she could not.
She was filling out some paper work and asked me what DOB meant. I replied, “It means date of birth.” I noticed the date when she wrote it down. She was the same age as my daughter. She seemed older.
I wondered what her life was like.
Her number 58 was called and she went in. When she came out I was still waiting. She smiled and told me goodbye.
“Number 65 go to table 2”, was the call from the lab room. A human vampire in a white coat came to draw my blood. I call her that because she had no interest in me as a person, only my blood. She never spoke to me, her only words were a conversation with her co-worker at table three. She never acknowledged me in any way. After she drew my blood, a cotton ball was put on my arm, along with a piece of tape. She told me I was done. I remembered a saying I heard, “Stick a fork in me, I am done”, when people have reached the end of their rope in a situation. I was glad to be done!
At my next appointment, I told my doctor I did not want to use that lab again. This was another reminder to myself that I need to be my own advocate in life.
The lessons I learned today were to remember to be kind to people and to appreciate my freedom.
I also thought I would love to have a day with the kind lady and find out more about her, who was she, what did she think, believe. Did she like her life? Her eyes said she didn’t.
Thank you, Kind Lady. If I see you again, I will ask your name, and I will tell you mine as I know yours isn’t 58, any more than mine is 65. Next time, I am sitting in the waiting room of life, perhaps I will remember this day and beckon someone to come and sit beside me.