There were approximately twenty empty chairs in the room on March 10, 2020 when she sat down. A senior citizen waited at a semi-metropolitan hospital, in a large rectangular almost empty room, behind the privacy barrier, for her husband to check in for his same-day surgery.
The woman observing and listening tried to think of anything other than his surgery. Surprising easily done because a gigantic TV screen, hanging on the wall in front of her, was broadcasting The Today Show, out of New York. There were four newscasters, one was Maria Shiver. They were discussing the Coronavirus. Only the virus.
Suddenly a couple walks in and they sat three and four seats from her, respectively. Not across the room, like she would have. But, within spitting distance.
Out of her right-side vision she saw the woman take her left index finger and plunge it into her left nostril. This is when the wife turned her head in disbelief. Only to see that she had great peripheral vision. Damn.
Oh my God, she was raised in a barn, the observer was thinking as she turns her whole body to her left. Still able to see the TV, but thankfully, not the nose digger. Once again, she focused her attention back to the Coronavirus discussion. “After the break, we will get the latest information on the virus from Dr…”
She never would have believed that the Coronavirus could usurp the fear she had of losing her husband. But it did for a three-minute period.
And then came the sneeze. Yes, the nose digger sneezed.
The listener became the watcher again; she couldn’t help herself; she turned her body back toward the nose lady. Do you think she sneezed into a tissue or her elbow? Hell no.
Fear hit her. Fear for him. Fear of losing him.
The watcher moved as far as possible from the nose lady without exiting the waiting room. She listened to the newscasters that she could no longer see. They no longer usurp her fear, either. That was taken from her with just a…
And she listened to the woman laugh at her for moving after she sneezed. “What?” said the husband.
The wife whispered something to him and then they both laughed.
Raised in a barn.
I’d like to say this isn’t a true story or that I wasn’t the watcher, listener and recipient of *“…droplets — as many as 40,000 — some of which rocket out at speeds greater than 200 miles per hour” from an adult who was too rude to comprehend, in a civilized society.