Jack Cross visits his doctor expecting to learn what the problem is with his damn throat, but the waiting room proves to be an even greater problem.
After he signs his name on the clipboard and finds a seat, he doesn’t think the waiting room is going to pose the problem that it does. And why should it? There are flowers on the center table, framed artwork on the wallpapered walls, and a TV box playing a show that seems like it isn’t a recorded loop.
From this TV Jack Cross learns that, according to Autism Speaks, 1 in 150 children falls somewhere on the autism spectrum; Pollen is worse between February and May; African Americans are twice as likely to suffer from a stroke than White Americans; Psoriasis is a scaly and embarrassing skin disease; Adults need to get 2.5 hours a week of exercise; Nature stimulates your memory more than the City; Girls are more likely to injure their ACL than boys; Getting a massage after a workout doesn’t help restore muscle strength; Pedicures are dangerous, each tool must be cleaned for a minimum of ten minutes in an air-tight sanitizer before use on the next customer’s feet.
Jack Cross doesn’t take his eyes or ears off the TV; he stays at full attention until he hears, “Thanks for watching while you’re in the waiting room,” and the video loops, “Welcome to Accent Health. According to Autism Speaks, a nonprofit organization…”
Thirty minutes have already gone by. Jack Cross realizes that he is in the iron claws of a bureaucratic torture machine. After signing his name on the clipboard, someone has to verify his insurance policy. This verification of policy, or VOP, is then sent to the Billing Department. The Billing Department updates its QuickBooks and tells the Receptionist what amount to charge. The Receptionist shouts across her receptionist’s window, “Jack. $15 copay.”
Once payment is settled, but never before, Jack realizes that it is only then that his file gets put in queue to see the Almighty Doctor.
In this way, thirty more minutes pass when the patient before him gets called into the inner chamber of the torture machine. A scrubby nurse with pitch black hair and rusty blonde streaks says, “Antonio.”
Antonio rallies at the sound of his name. He claps his hands in glee, bounces from his chair, does a little tap dance, and delivers a suave, “Hello,” to the nurse as he invites himself inside.
Jack Cross is alone now. He bobs his knees, hears Accent Health talking about girls getting more ACL injuries than boys. The Medical Specialist teaches, “This is because boys play low when they’re young, they’re pretty much on the ground, but girls, girls play on their tip toes, they stand up tall and straight, and this is precisely how knee injuries happen, by twisting when you’re standing up straight.”
Jack Cross hears the Medical Specialist and then drowns her out until it’s just him and the waiting room.
Jack sees this fine scenery from where he’s sitting.
Jack stands and takes this picture of where he has been sitting for the last hour. You can see his MSI Wind in a white man purse on his chair.
Here’s a picture of the receptionist’s window and the Accent Health TV. Jack’s throat screams what could be STREP when he takes this critical shot. The condition around his uvula is so bad that he has to brace himself before swallowing. One can only imagine how much good the framed artwork he sees on the wallpapered walls could possibly do for patients experiencing comparable problems:
Flowers on Severely Folded Tablecloth
Three Ducks Under a Tree Branch at Night in a Field
Arizona Mesas Faded
Waste of Paint
Another thirty minutes have passed. Jack sits down underneath this waste, unzips his man purse, wakes up his MSi Wind, and writes, Doctor’s Patient Bored to Death in Waiting Room.
Sent with the intention of interrupting inspiration, the nurse with pitch black hair and rusty blond streaks opens the door to the inner torture chamber just when he’s about to write the manifesto to end all manifestos, “Jack.”
Jack Cross eyes the nurse, zips up his Wind, and promises to himself that it’ll happen tonight. The next time he swallows, what could be STREP almost hobbles him to his knees. He giggles at what could’ve been a very sad and funny story, but he has to live to tell it.