Many philosophers have debated the nature of time. Plato, for instance, thought that time was marked by a celestial clockwork set in motion by a serpent in a top hat. Scientists have also wrestled with the issue, most notably Albert Einstein, who said, famously, “God does not have a watch”. I myself have given the matter some consideration, and I now am attempting to believe that time is like clothes. Sometimes it is too tight, and other times it is too loose, but rarely ever does time fit perfectly thanks to the ever-changing nature of the universe’s own waistline.
This is my attempt at a new theory of time, as I’m hoping to replace my former, less elegant-sounding theory: Doug The Time Chicken. Doug The Time Chicken runs perpetually through the Barnyard of Infinity at varying speeds based on how much fun you are having. If you’re really having a great time, Doug speeds up to the point of actual flight. Hence the oft-heard phrase, “Doug flies when you’re having sex, unless something awkward happens.”
Yesterday, however, I experienced the other extreme of Doug’s movement when I entered the Dekalb County Health Department’s building in order to get immunized for my trip to Africa. Doug slowed to a barely perceptable crawl. He’s known to do this in any government building, so I expected it, but was nonetheless disheartened.
My Kilimanjaro trip buddy Mike and I each took a number, and sat down to wait. Then we waited again. And then we waited a third time, just to show that we meant business.
We were told that someone called the Travel Nurse would be along shortly. I guess it takes a different kind of nurse to administer the shots necessary to travel to Africa from the nurse who gives kids shots for school. Many kids and their mothers cycled through the little waiting room, got their shots, and left. Mike and I just waited and waited.
I checked on Doug the Time Chicken, and he’d lapsed into a full-on coma.
Just then, the Travel Nurse appeared as if out of thin air. There was some discussion between her and one of the other nurses about how long we’d been waiting, and some pointing at the wall clock. I made a mental note to tell her about Doug the Time Chicken if I got the chance.
I did get a chance, as it turned out, when she led me to an examining room, but once I got there I forgot all about Doug when confronted with a poster that depicted children with varying forms of diseases. The kid with smallpox was particularly terrifying, his mouth frozen forever in a painful wail. No less harrowing was was the cervical cancer photo on another poster. Thanks for that, Dekalb County. Those images will haunt my dreams for years to come.
The Travel Nurse led me, wide-eyed and fearful thanks to the horror show images in the examining room, back to the waiting area, and then performed a series of entries and exits into and out of the three doors in the waiting room. It seemed that she had the abilty to enter a room from any door she liked, regardless of which one she had previously exited. I guess that’s why she’s called the Travel Nurse.
Finally, after several hours of multiple children rolling around a waiting room floor and one who peed on her mother’s leg, the nurses consented to give Mike and me our shots. The Travel Nurse objected to my characterization of the affair as a stabbing, but laughed when I sang “Don’t be fooled by these shots that I got, I’m still, I’m still Jimmy from the block.”
At last, we were deemed immunized and free to go, a mere three hours or so after we’d arrived. We were vaccinated against Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A and B, and I even got a tetanus shot. That’s not the good news, though.
The good news is we get to go back in two weeks for more hepatitis shots! Oh, happy day!
When Doug hears this he’s going to buy himself a reclining chair and give up forward movement of any kind. Oh well. Here’s hoping the trip itself will be worth it!