The job I mentioned here, I got it! I interviewed for the Central Scheduling Specialist Entry Level I position this past Wednesday with the department supervisor and nailed it! On Friday, I had a second interview, this time–with the department director and did quite well in it and was offered the job on the spot.
The scheduling position is still within radiology and I will continue to have an opportunity to provide “remarkable care” to our organization’s patients, but from behind the scenes. I will be taking inbound calls from hundreds of patients throughout several markets and scheduling them for the hundreds of thousands of imaging services we provide.
The position is completely remote/work-from-home and as soon as I hear from HR (which should be sometime early next week), I’ll be able to begin my 30-day notice with my current job. I already have my resignation letters drafted up and will provide one to my direct supervisor and the other to our center manager.
When my 30-day notice is complete, I’ll begin rigorous training at the business office for scheduling. The duration will be several weeks. When that’s complete, I’ll be sent home with my equipment and from there on, expected to shine as I have for the last 2 years and 1/2 with this organization and I will.
I feel like I have to slap myself. I cannot believe that in about one month’s time, I will no longer be expected to physically screen or come in contact with patients on a daily basis. Doing what I do puts an incredible fear inside me and every day is a task heavier than the one before.
No more asking patients to put on a mask or imploring that they keep it on. No more coming in contact with patients who tested positive and decided to use one of their quarantine days to come and get some X-rays completed. No more advising doctors’ offices of proper protocol and our company’s COVID-19 algorithm. No more reminding people that we are on a no-visitor-rule and no they cannot have their mama’s sister’s best friend’s aunt with them in the waiting area. The list goes on.
I prayed for this . . . for the chance to feel some semblance of peace and safety once again and my prayers have been answered. I am overwhelmed with excitement and joy and I can only hope this decision will prove itself best for me in the future.
I don’t know the woman who walks past me in the grocery store at 07:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. She’s wearing blue jeans, a cropped top, and sensible slides on her feet. She brushes against me lightly. I’ve forgotten what that feels like. Her hair is everywhere — neatly. It’s organized chaos — a private dancer for the wind.
She excuses herself.
She’s not wearing a mask and upon seeing that I have on mine, she panics. She cannot believe she stepped out of her car, walked into the store, brushed against another human being, and spoke to her — all without the proper face covering.
I deal with this sort of thing daily. I feel like a soldier, manning a station from a deadly enemy as his allies try to trickle in without one of the things combating it — a face mask. She has forgotten hers and I feel the need to reclaim safety for myself and those around me.
I calmly advise her that anyone can make this mistake, anyone. She is a fit of tears and apologetic to the point that I’ve now stepped closer to her with my hands slightly raised indicating that I mean no harm and I motion for her to follow me to the automatic doors.
We locate her car. We locate her mask. She’s still apologizing — telling me all the ways she’s done stupid things in life but this is now the stupidest. I don’t think silence is the best response. That would mean, I agree. I don’t. There are a ton of things far more stupid than what we found ourselves rectifying and I tell her this.
The tears pool deeply in the beds of her eyes. She blinks and two tears plop to the ground with a loud thud. I wait with her while she covers her face. We walk back to the store and I spot my cart and the unattended bananas, apples, spinach, and yogurt. I retrieve it. I am eager to finish my shopping and get back home.
She’s still beside herself with intense emotion but there are no more tears — only the puffiness of her eyes and reddened cheeks. And freckles. Freckles I didn’t notice before. She tells me — sweet onions are on sale as well as all-purpose flour and at this early in the morning, pre-breakfast and coffee, I’m struggling not to morph into an Addams Family character and spook her.
I want to move on.
This is my war. The store is my battlefield. She has fought her battle in the middle of a war and I want to move on from it. I let her know the morning is incredibly young and she is in the store early enough to catch all the sales. I wish her well. I mean it.
These days, I always mean it.
She grips the handlebar of her cart, pops it twice, and removes two pieces of tissue from her handbag. She splashes hand sanitizer on the tissue and smooths it over the bar and the sides of the cart. I nod to her and move toward the “No Pulp” orange juice and mouth a goodbye (out of habit).
Her glasses fog up and I miss her freckles. I wonder, what will be on the menu if there are sweet onions and all-purpose flour, both on sale. She follows me. She is talking to my back, luring a conversation.
The gods must dislike me this morning because my energy was zapped the night before at work and as much as I love to empathize, listen, and give my all to someone in need, my body nor mind can take it this morning.
“You like the ‘no pulp’ kind too, huh?”
Oh, this is about the orange juice. While I would love to skip meaningless chit chat, I do love talking about interests with another person. “Yes, I prefer it.”
She smiles. I can’t see her beautiful mouth anymore — her full lips, but I notice the eyes — they light up. She remains six feet away from me but leans in toward my cart and slaps an orange juice in her hands. It lands across her cropped top. I move along to the dairy section. I need cheese and milk. She comes along as well.
*What is going on here? Why does she keep following me*
“I have to get cheese, milk, biscuits, and creamer. They’re on my list.”
“Oh. I need cheese and milk as well. Please, after you.” I move to the side, allowing her to brisk by, and I walk slowly behind her. She glides — it’s not a stutter-step. She is floating toward the dairy section and her everywhere hair bounces as she moves.
*Am I smiling? I am. I am smiling. Why?*
I wait until it is my turn to retrieve cheese and milk. She stands idly by — watching as I retrieve said items, patting her feet while coating her hands with sanitizer. “I’m sorry. Is there a reason you keep waiting for me? Is there anything you need?”
I didn’t want to seem crass, but I am not used to people accompanying me as I shop. It’s a self-sufficiency thing. I’d much rather get in, get what I need, get out, and keep it moving. But this woman, the one whose eyes pool tears quicker than I keep breaths . . . the one with the organized chaos for hair . . . the one with freckles right under her eyes, just above her cheeks — freckles that come alive when she smiles — wants something from me and I have to know. What is it?
“Oh. Um. Well. I like your shirt. I also like your mask. I don’t know what half of your face looks like, but I’m willing to bet it’s likable too. I’m Rain.”
She extends her hand, and immediately, I tense up. Am I supposed to touch her? This is my battlefield. This is a war. A war between doing what I would normally do in the past without hesitation versus not doing it because it could well, kill me . . . And of course, her name is ‘Rain,’ of course, it is.
“Oh. um. Is it okay for me to shake your hand? You are okay with this?”
“Sure. You’ve already seen me without a mask. You helped me get it. I doubt my shaking your hand would do us any harm. But if you’re opposed, that’s okay too. Is it all right for me to give you my number? I don’t have many friends here — moved three weeks ago from Van Nuys, in Cali.”
“Get out! As in Los Angeles? A good friend of mine lived there for years before moving back east. What are the odds?”
Her eyes light up again. Her freckles dance. I watch her patting feet. I don’t know what this is, but I welcome it for a few moments. It feels nice — something I remember doing before — communicating with others outside of work and in person.
“So, is that a yes, me giving you my number. What’s your name?”
“Oh, okay. Sure. That’d be cool. It’s Tremaine, Tre for short. That’s ‘Tree-Maine.” I pull out my phone, hit contacts, and add her name, then her number.
“You live on this side of town, ‘That’s Tree-Maine.?’”
“Haha. You got jokes. Nice. Yeah, I’m about three miles away, right off the highway.” She smiles again. I smile. I give her my number and watch her sway back and forth on the balls of her feet. That’s odd. She must’ve danced in the past or maybe she still does.
“I know it ain’t the right time to be dating. Social distancing is a motherfucker, but I’ve been holed up in my new apartment for the last three weeks and you’re the first person to make me smile since I moved here. You wanna grab dinner one day next week — my treat?”
“Dating? Oh. Is this a date? Are you asking me out? You’ll have to excuse me, I am out of practice on this bit.”
She smiles again and I find myself loving the sight of dancing freckles and everywhere hair.
“Let’s just call it a thing until it becomes whatever it needs to be. But for now, it’s dinner, my treat.”
I tell her I must finish shopping. I have work waiting for me at home and a dog who likes to boss me around. She laughs and a few customers look at us. I shrink into myself — hating to be stared at, but okay with it too. That’s odd. Everything is odd around this woman — this Rain whose eyes pool tears and freckles that dance, and hair that does its own thing without any regard for the goings-on around it. I look back, she’s watching me. Eyes curved — lit up. She’s smiling.
This is my battlefield. The war rages on.
*Author’s Note: This is part fiction/nonfiction/fantasy. Originally published on Medium.
Creative content straight from the mind of an innovator trying to shift the world with her writing.
For what seemed like countless summers of my upbringing, I’d be shipped off to my family in New York, specifically, the Bronx, in order to find some semblance of relief from boredom and the murderous heat of Savannah, Georgia. I’d count the days toward the middle of May and flaunt my happiness to my friends as much as I could, however, I knew I’d miss them.
I knew I’d want to know what their days would entail without me.
In the summer of ’98, I had two crushes: Joel & Mackenzie. Joel was Puerto Rican & Black and Mackenzie was Jamaican but was raised in Queens for the bulk of her life. (Every other weekend, she’d visit her aunts and cousins in the Bronx.) I lusted over them— would do anything for the heat of their presence to sway my way, however, I was not out then, so Mackenzie could never know my true feelings.
I paraded around my Grandma’s neighborhood, tossing back coconut icies, running through fire hydrants, and staying out late in the park. Bronx heat was a bomber; a killer, if you will. We’d have blackouts that’d last for days and I would find myself yearning for the sunlight just to get a glimpse of Joel and his smile or Mackenzie and her long legs.
I used to think she walked on clouds and I wanted to know just how soft her steps were.
She’d call me “Tree” with a hint of her Jamaican accent slipping through and she’d ask me to turn the ropes when we played Double Dutch. And what a damn honor that was — what it did to and for my ego . . . *Mac wants me to turn again. Maybe she knows.* But I was just hella good at turning the ropes and going with her flow and although I wanted to flow with her in other ways, I settled for our daily games.
Joel came and went. He was fluid, like water. I couldn’t catch him and even if I could, my hands weren’t big enough to hold him. He’d slide through every single time. Enigmatic — that’s how I described him.
He would sit near me on the park swings and just talk. Just talk . . . He had a gold tooth and a fat herringbone chain and my Grandma used to yell from our fifth-floor window for me to “get my fast ass upstairs” and I always ran away from him. Authority was our downfall — I never truly felt his heat until I couldn’t have it.
Summer became my favorite season that year. It was the year I’d compare all others to. It was the year I searched for the heat I loved and the heat I lost. I often wonder how both of them are doing; if Mac still walks on clouds and if Joel is still hard to catch.
I wonder, sincerely wonder if they knew about my heat.
If I had a magic wand, my life would not include me saying the following statement multiple times a week: “No, I am not taking any visitors at this time. Due to my line of work, it’s best that I do not.” For those of you who do not know, I am a Patient Access Specialist turned Screener for an imaging facility. My transitional position, due to the Coronavirus COVID-19, places me front and center in surveying patients and taking their temperatures prior to entering our waiting areas. I screen anywhere from one hundred twenty to one hundred eighty-five people per day with a low to moderate percentage of exposure to the virus.
Some family members get the importance of my refusals to their requests, others want to test the waters of me and see how far they can take their reach without me blocking it or shutting it down. I am not one who likes repeating herself but for this, I make sure I am loud and clear.
I will miss out on a few opportunities for gathering with family this summer and it is because I have to take every precaution to ensure my safety and the safety of others. My health is important. I want to be sure it remains intact for the foreseeable future.
I have brothers, cousins, uncles, and aunts who want to visit from various Coronavirus, COVID-19 hotspots across the nation and in my mind, all I can think is, “Why would you want to visit me while we’re in the middle of a global pandemic? Why do you think I want you to?” Politely declining family gatherings and visitations is becoming my forté but I have no regrets. At least, not right now.
But how will I feel when the night barks and love has no bite? What will I do when the yearning for a hug becomes the one prayer I lend to God religiously? Am I strong enough? Will my defiance of running toward “some sense of normalcy” get the best of me? Only time will tell.
Right now, I am in avoidance mode and for several reasons. I cannot, in good faith, slack off in any way on the methods of survival and remaining virus-free if I give in to the simple requests of others.
To an unbearable extent, everyone is antsy. They’re ready to experience life the way they knew it to be Pre-Coronavirus days, but I am faced with the reality of its deadliness every single day and I am in no rush to gain a life back that does not have what I mostly need from it.
It breaks my heart to not be able to see, spend time with, and share in the love of my beautiful family, but I love them enough to know I am bad for their health and to keep myself away from them regardless of their pleas. I love them enough to want them to live through this phase of life, come out unscathed, and tell the story of it.
The night does pull at me and oftentimes, I haven’t the strength to conquer it. A few loud barks from its deep voice doesn’t scare me. I don’t even flinch.
But, I will be completely transparent, it’s the absence of the vastness of love and all versions of it I miss the most. It is the intensity of a thing I’ve forced myself to believe I want more than breathing. I want to live through this pandemic and share stories of it with the same loved ones pressing me to open up my door and let them in.
Will I lose their admiration and perhaps the closeness we’ve had over the years? It is a possibility. But, I’d rather keep the potency of love in its full form in my heart than run the risk of losing its bite.
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