Bad enough when the rasp in your voice makes your boss think he’s talking to a man.
Worse still when you’re the idiot racing out of church during the quiet of Communion prayers because you can’t stop coughing (why do we sit up front?!) and everyone else pretends they’re not looking at your beet-red face as you make tracks for the narthex.
But the ultimate commentary might come from the nurse-practioner who declares, upon seeing you after an hourlong wait: “You look exhausted.”
I knew in the wee hours of this morning that there was no way I could have gotten through my set. That I was only lying to myself by continuing to forge ahead like nothing was wrong. This malady was no mere cold. Three am and I was hacking my way through the last hours of darkness.
It killed me to admit defeat, but I knew there was no margin for error: I needed to be sharp and moving seamlessly through a boatload of tasks. Instead, I was operating as though under water, brain synapses firing in slow-motion.
So it was off to the walk-in after work.
Badly in need of dinner, I nevertheless entertained myself deleting old email and playing Klondike on my iPod while watching and listening to the parade of people picking up prescriptions, Valentines, magazines, baby gear and other sundries.
I marveled at the CVS organizer people and wondered why they would choose to group Laxatives, Eye Care products and Foot products in a single aisle. How do those things all go together?
I listened to the middle school girl bring Valentine after Valentine to her mother for approval. More often than not, she was told her choices were “not appropriate.”
A tyke had a meltdown because his Papi wouldn’t buy him modeling clay or let him try out the orthopedic foot scanner thingamajig.
A lot of women in workout clothes and men in construction gear stopped by to pick up their medications. Kids wheedled a turn at the blood pressure machine.
And time ticked by.
Finally my name was called. The verdict: Sinus infection and bronchitis.
A few minutes later, I was finally on my way home, where more tasks awaited.
There’s still no rest for the weary, but at least there are antibiotics.