We stood impatiently in line; barely talking louder than a whisper. You could sense fear and anxiety consume the entire tiny waiting room. I watched as people walk in and out, with blank faces; everyone with their own problems. There was no one special snowflake.
“This is my least favorite place on earth”, I thought to myself.
I heard someone cough from the back of the room. From the corner of my eye, I noticed a middle aged man, pacing in and out of the room into the hallway hastily. I couldn’t tell if he was nervous or angry or stewing in both but he certainly seemed like he had caught a bug that was eating at him from within. He wore a yellow construction hat and some dirty work clothes and torn up Timberland boots. Nothing seemed too extraordinary about him.
I bid my time. Watching the skinny second hand of an old analog clock in the room, repeat the same circular motion over and over. It was soothing and kept me from over thinking.
I heard him cough and grunt again; this time louder. He was interrupting my meditation. He walked towards me on his way out of the room. I avoided all forms of eye contact and increased my focus on the clock, hoping I would somehow become invisible. As he got closer, I could smell a mild mixture of liquor, cigarettes and sweat in his breath. I stayed calm.
“Got a light?” he cleared his throat and brandished a partially smoked cigarette in front of me.
I padded my jeans pockets and jacket and slowly shook my head, “Sorry, I don’t…” He seemed restless and desperate for that smoke.
As he turned to walk away, he softened his voice and said, “You plan how your day should start and hope things go as planned. But never how it should end.”
He coughed again and continued, “This might probably be my last smoke for a while.”