The Temperature Gun

No matter what route I take, my daily commute to work is at least an hour each way and usually takes an hour-thirty. Sometimes the drive can be over two hours. Atlanta is known for daily traffic accidents and drivers who act as if they are racing in the Indi 500.

I managed to convince my bosses to let me work one day a week at a sister site only twenty minutes from driveway to door. Great. The problem is that I have little or nothing to do here. I sit in a front glass room, sort of like a man-trap except that the only thing between an incoming client and the clinic is me. I greet people, ask them why they are here and whether they have been exposed to anyone who is Covid-positive in the past two weeks. No one tells me the truth. I take their temperature; if it is normal, I wrap a paper band in the color of the day around their wrist, which is fastened with a sticky end akin to super glue. I warn them that it won’t come off easily. “Use a pair of scissors—not a knife,” I suggest.

Once I send them through the interior double doors, they disappear into the waiting rooms and offices.

So on to the Touchless Forehead Thermometer. I don’t like them. I get anxious when someone points one at me. I flinch involuntarily. It looks like a Taser or a plastic gun with a lethal aura. I can’t be the only one who is afraid of it. I see fear on people’s faces because they don’t understand the technology. It looks like a gun and shoots . . . what? Cosmic rays! Today I learned that I could point it at anyone’s wrist and get an accurate reading. No more foreheads. The clients are relieved, and I am relieved.

I earn twelve dollars an hour to warm the seat of this chair, check people into clinics, and attempt to soothe them if they’re nervous. I smile with my eyes and try to speak clearly through my double face masks. I do this every Tuesday for eight hours. It sure beats staying home and watching daytime TV.

Published by Carole J. Garrison

I’m a conversationalist, an observer, a passionate participant in life. And now, in my later years, I’m a recorder of the lessons of my life through essays, stories, and novels. I live in the fourth moment of life, just outside the normal distribution of most people and it is from this place that I write.

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