“That spider’s about to crawl up your leg.”
At the word spider, my eyes popped open and with the mental acuity that comes with fear, I quickly scanned the industrial gray carpet in search of the arachnid. Barbie Doctor #2 was talking and not to me. Thank you, God. I hate spiders. And screaming into this gloomy void of a testing center waiting room would have upset the equilibrium we strangers were trying desperately to achieve.
Roused from my self-imposed semi-meditational state, I took in the crowd and in the truest sense of the word, pre-judged them. I nicknamed them and labeled them simply to kill time and keep my mind off the second half of a life-changing test that I may or may not finish.
Let me introduce you to the room:
Humans 1 & 2) The Drones= The two employees of the testing center. Both middle-aged balding men, very friendly and trying to be helpful in the midst of a situation over which they had absolutely no control.
Humans 3&4) Barbie Doctor #1 and Barbie Doctor #2= Perky twenty somethings exchanging pre-med school stories and frankly, annoying me with their happiness. Note to perky people everywhere: when you’re in a tense situation with strangers, tone it down.
Human 5) Tanner= a clean-cut co-ed who I’m sure was named Tanner or Jeremy and if he wasn’t, I don’t know what his mother was thinking.
Human 6) Blondie= and I don’t mean the cartoon character. I mean the 80’s rocker Debbie Harry minus the cocaine induced eye glaze. She’s also the one to whom Barbie Doctor #2’s spider comment was directed and to her credit, she did not freak out like I would have. She calmly squashed it and sunk back into a respectable silence. I was impressed. Barbie Doctor’s #1 and 2, however, were not and #2 suggested that killing the spider would only add to the bad karma (her phrase) we were already experiencing on Friday the 13th. *insert eye roll here*
Human 7) Mr. Insurance or Dave=mid 40’s, dressed in business casual and obviously taking some continuing ed thing for his job and again, I have no idea if his name was really Dave but it probably was.
Human 8) Nurse Nancy= 30’s maybe early 40’s, pretty, normal looking. I liked her. I don’t know if she was a nurse. I’m guessing. But as she flipped through the Good Housekeeping magazine, I saw her smirk every once in a while and chuckle under her breath. Whether she was mocking the photos from the “Nine Worst Hair Mistakes and How to Fix Them” or enjoying her own game of sizing up the room, I have no idea. I suspected the Barbie Doctor’s perky-ness bugged her as much as me and decided that we’d be friends.
Human 9) Nondescript white female in the corner.
Human 10) Cocky new-comer= youngish, blond hair, feet up on the chair next to him. Where was he at 7:30 this morning? Sketchy.
And last, but certainly not least,
Human 11) The Cleaner= the owner of the center who arrived shortly after the power outage to provide comfort and aid to the huddled stressed out mass of humanity sitting in the waiting room.
The Cleaner addressed us with phrases like 1200 people without power…could be several hours…let me check our policies…. Honestly, I tried to stay in a test taking zone so I filtered everything trying to expend as little brain energy as possible.
We were told after 30 minutes we could choose to continue the test or reschedule free of charge. I planned on continuing so I kept my observations and mental blogging (a helpful pastime when I’m stressed) to a minimum. Phones, pens, paper and unauthorized kleenex declared contraband*, we all sat waiting with little to occupy frazzled minds.
Nurse Nancy and Nondiscript White Female read magazines since they were by the window and had light. The Drones and The Cleaner worked the problem in the other room with a flash light and procedural manual. The Barbie’s got all chatty and we collectively learned where they each went to school (both high school and undergrad) where they applied for med school, where they’d each grown up and where they were presently employed. We also heard about ex-boyfriends, advice given by mothers and how waitressing toe-tally sucks. I did not ask to know this information. It was forced on me…and Blondie…and Dave and the rest of the test prisoners. No one else entered into the Barbie exchange or was invited for that matter. But perhaps the death stare they may have received from any one of us was enough to limit their interaction to a two way conversation. Who knows. At one point, Tanner, visibly annoyed, put his head in his hands and looked like he wanted to squeeze his brains out. I felt for him.
45 minutes after our testing world went dark, with a whir and hum the lights flickered on and the computers came to life.
One by one, they checked us back into the dungeon. Both the Barbie Doctors decided to reschedule their MCAT. Nondiscript White Female’s test malfunctioned and skipped a section making it impossible for her to finish. I sat, staring at the little hourglass icon for several minutes waiting for my screen to pop up.
The Drone came to my aid and rebooted my system.
Again, I waited. Again the hourglass icon taunted me.
15 minutes later, hourglass still spinning, I told the drones I’d had enough.
I needed to reschedule.
I left the testing center tired and deflated and again, blurry eyed with tears.
Yes, I got a taste of the test.
Yes, I observed human behavior up close and personal and admittedly enjoyed analyzing my fellow planet dwellers.
Yes, I lost half a day for (what felt like) nothing.
Walking around Target afterwards looking for a gift and texting friends** telling my tales of woe, my brain murky and my body mush, I longed for rest.
Just then, my phone buzzed. I answered and the familiar voice, full of understanding, asked if I wanted to come over.
Respite care. Pure, simple, kind, refreshing respite care after a long week and draining day. God provided my friend and I accepted the graciously offered time of replenishment for my soul.
Answers were lost in cyberspace never to return. But peace was found on the rainy afternoon in my friends living room.
*Read The Test part 1 for details
**Who all commiserated with me like good friends should!
End note…the test will be rescheduled. I will start back at the beginning. The school extended the application deadline for me (I didn’t ask them too, they just did).
I’m linking today with my friend Jennifer (respite-care provider extraordinaire) at GDWJ: