It's somewhat random, the jobs you pick up for a summer's cash while you're attending university. By that token, it's just as balls-ass random--the jobs you get after you graduate. I think the most random job, considering my skill set (read: unskilled) was desk receptionist for a doctor's office. The phrase "doctor's office" has something of a different tone than "abortion clinic", which is what it was. To say that I worked there part time might even suggest to the easily confused that I had a part time hobby-level interest in abortion. Remember, jobs are random, I don't think I ever got a job working for Tom Waits or Glen Fiddich. Not yet, anyway...
I was making minimum wage, if that. The trade off was, the job consisted mostly of sitting at a desk, surfing the internet. I GUESS I could get paid for that!
One day a girl came in, who seemed to be ageless. You know the type. More often a male than a female, but it's still possible to have an ageless woman appear before you. You can't really tell if they're 22 or 42. Not necessarily unattractive, but either world-weary or naive, depending on their actual age--which could be 20 years wrong in your head.
She was all business, "Where do I sign", etc, with a hint of... something. Pissed off at the guy who left her to pay the rent solo...? Wistful about that voice in her head that all potential mothers probably hear shouting, "Keep the kid, she could grow up to cure hodgkins lymphoma!"... Maybe just bitter that the paper-work wasn't moving fast enough...
She wanted to get moving into the specialists rooms, and I, naturally, wanted to get back to reading www.moderndrunkardmagazine.com. Unfortunately--god knows why--she was going to have to sit in the empty waiting room for about 10 minutes before she could see one of the doctors who, quite frankly, had about three patients all day.
I'm not sure when the last time I ate was, it must have been 7:30 AM that day (it was really 1:30pm, about an hour and a half before that moment) but damn did I have a craving for some food. There's a Cumberland Farms next door, which is like a Pantry One if it were run by the stingiest jihadists this side of the mason-dixon line (which is to say--the stingient Jihadists on the continent). I'm thinking about hitting up the deli real quick. Hah, wow do I have problems, there's a rare patient in the waiting room, and just because I know it'll be about 10 minutes (I think the doctors were calibrating some machine or something) I was actually considering running next door for a Reuben.
"Uh, Claire?", I said.
"Yes!" she said, staring to get up with hopes that she'd be moving on to her next errand that day.
"Oh, uh... I'm sorry, I didn't mean to give you the wrong idea, it's gonna be about ten minutes till they see you.. I really don't know why.... I apologize."
"Fuck!" she said, as if she were racing against an invisible clock which was connected to her moral compass--once the clock strikes 3, she wouldn't be able to go through with it.
"Uh, anyway...I'm gonna run next door, I'll be back in about 6 minutes...."
"Thank god I wasn't born with a prostate," she mused, "it would probably be on cancer by now..."
That was sorta weird, but whatever, it seemed she wasn't satisfied with how things were going, biologically speaking.
Oh my, the sight of those deli meats makes me warm up inside in a manner which suggests to me that there are probably some sort of meetings I should be seeking out. I stare at them while they slice; their foreign hands, more than native to the slicer, carefully crafting each layer of soon-to-be belly-fat. My mouth produces saliva at an increased rate. Not quite as increased as if it were something particularly spicy they were slicing (the stronger the flavor, the more I salivate. Even though I love a cordon bleu more than I love buffalo wings. the wings make me salivate more, because their connection with those synapses which deal primarily with the salivary glands are stronger... more developed. Maybe just more easily agitated. do I have an erection right now?)
As I paid for my sandwich, I noticed two other people in the store--which was allot for that time of day. Heh, abortion clinics, and convenience stores... not much business at three in the afternoon. I don't know what the convenience stores' excuse was, but the busy professional ladies were waiting to get off work before they have their late period relieved. I was in line to pay, second in line, and it was one of those lines where you could clearly see the person's face in front of you. A horizontal line, if that makes any sense--me facing the line, and the person in front of the line facing the cashier, who was sideways to me.
Do I know that lady in line in front of me? Do I recognize her face? Something about it... By the way, to continue to call it a "line" would be just another acquiescence to that good old American self-serving bullshit story. It was one person standing in front of me, I was in queue.
Right as the lady in front of me--roughly my age, which at the time was, what... 20? 21?... Just as she was collecting her change (and FUCK was it a shit-ton of change.. What did she pay for her Mentos with a $1900 dollar bill?)... Just then a young girl walked into the store. Maybe 10 years old. Same hair color as the girl in front of me. Same... eye color? I couldn't tell, but it was definitively a similar nose... Same mouth?
The song on the convenience store muzak-box change to some other soft hit of the 90's (perhaps Sting's "Fields of Gold" or Seal's "Kissed By a Rose") but God-Damn! The sight of that young girl holding similar features to that older girl... Her nose, in similar proportions.... I knew they weren't related because I saw the young girl's car and mom in the parking lot. The old girl proceeded to leave in her own car, leaving just enough of her face behind to wear a hole in my sole big enough to be plugged by a ten-year old.
I don't cry that often, but I ran full speed out of that Cumberland Farms back to my back-alley coat-hanger emporium at full speed, leaving an embarrassing path of tears behind me. I ran into my workplace practically balling like a 6 year old, looking too ridiculous for words. The doctor was just coming into the the reception area to tell me they're ready, and I whispered to him, "okay, I'll send her right in.".
"Why are you whispering?" he said.
"Uh, no reason," I said more loudly.
"Are you okay?" he said, visibly noticing my tear-streaked face.
"Absolutely I just had my favorite sandwich with horseradish next door!", I said, half wishing it were true.
I turned back to the opening in the wall, where my patient was waiting for me with an expectant look. It's true that she was indeed expecting.
"Okay..." I said, knowing full well that she saw/heard me talking to the doctor and that it was probably time for me to send her in.
How was I going to feign this? Problem with the paper-work? Sick doctors? Last ditch attempt at the meaning of life which I didn't give a shit about until about 1 minute ago next door?
I got it! Problem with the paperwork!!!
"I'm sorry, ma'am, but..."
What the fuck was I trying to do... stall? Lord knows the 'Me' that lies within wasn't just trying to stall. He was trying to quit his job and take a few souls with me. Fuck, I didn't even have opinions on abortion. I was doing this job for the $6.40 per hour. Additionally, I believed that those who DID have strong opinions on moral issues were, well, artificially aging themselves. I was determined to be young for quite some time, and 22 was no time to mateur.
Grabbing her by the hand as I did was additionally immature, as was yelling things about, "Hey let me show you this better clinic in town!" That last bit was not just immature, but sorta retarded. What was I thinking?
Halfway to my car, two things occurred to me. 1)She had actually followed me!?? 2)There's no way she's going to get into my car without further explanation. So I ran down the drive-way, dragging her slow pregnant ass behind me, turned down the sidewalk and took her to the only other building within a square mile of this sub-suburban hole... Cumberland Fucking Farms convenience store.
She wasn't exactly speaking to me yet, lord knows I wouldn't speak to her without an explanation if she pulled me out of an important medical procedure and into a deli. She was giving me the look like, "Okay, I'm just game enough to see what you're getting at before screaming 'rape!', but you better make with some logic and fast."
The little girl was gone, not that it would have made any difference to have a visual aid, so I turned to Claire, and said, "Look, I've been working at an abortion clinic for a month and a half. And I don't know you from a can of paint. But if I didn't try to present to you an alternative opinion, I feel like I would regret it for the rest of my life."
Was I crying again? I have no idea, but I hope so because then my nonsense would seem more credible. I also hope NOT because then it would mean I had make a more real connection with another human being.
"Let me take you to get a cup of coffee, " I pleaded, without concern for the fact that I would be hard-pressed to come up with a legitimate logic-defying case against a stranger's abortion within the next, what 45 minutes?" Not important. The immediate concern was to get Claire to agree to skip out with me for a chunk of her obviously busy and callous afternoon.
She began to open her mouth... "....".
The fact that she didn't quite answer right immeditately was a good sign.
Plus, I was still clocked in...