by Melinda Gallo

A busy day out in the rain

Today, I would've rather stayed home and listened to the rain fall on the rooftop while I worked on my computer. But, instead I had to go to an appointment that I scheduled the week before. When I got outside, I noticed that my 2 Euro umbrella, which someone bought for me a few months ago, was broken. It was raining enough that I had to keep using it. I felt like a bag lady with this torn umbrella in my hand. I walked with the broken part behind me, at least I couldn't see it.

My appointment wasn't in centro (downtown), but in an area called "Le Cure," which is on the other side of the viale (big avenue). For someone like me who loves to walk around town to go places, Le Cure is not an area that I want to walk to. I'm sure someone must do it, as the bus ride is only about 10 to 15 minutes, but it's crossing the viale that prevents me from doing it. So instead, I walked to Piazza San Marco to catch the number 17 bus.

I knew it was going to be an uncomfortable ride when I saw a large crowd of people move toward my bus as it turned the corner and came toward the bus stop. The bus ended up being pieno zeppo (stock full) of people with long faces, holding their soaking wet umbrellas that dripped onto the floor of the bus. The bus was so full that I was pushed from behind by a guy who almost had to get off because he didn't fit. I tried not to push the elderly couple in front of me either because they were having a hard time standing up. The bus driver also was hard on the breaks so we moved around a lot and I couldn't keep myself in place that easily.

After my bus trip to Le Cure and back, I ran to get the C bus to take me down toward Sant'Ambrogio. The bus driver shut the doors right before I got there, so I had to knock on them. He opened the door, and I thanked him before I sat down. He shut the doors right behind me and waited a few more seconds before taking off. We drove right through Piazza Santissima Annunziata and zipped down the narrow streets, just barely fitting between the cars parked on both sides.

I walked past the mercato (market) and my old area to see my medico di famiglia (family doctor) who works in Piazza Santa Croce. I felt a sense of nostalgia with each step through the dark streets. I realized it's been at least a month since I've gone to the mercato.

My medico di famiglia works two hours a day: sometimes in the morning and sometimes at night. I have not been able to go for a week, and since I was already outside, I figured I might as well go there too since she was there tonight.

I walked into the sala d'attesa (waiting room), which was full. I walked in and asked, "Chi l'ultimo?" (Who is the last one?) A man waved his hand at me, so I sat down near him toward the back of the long and stuffy room. The woman across from me was talking on the phone, coughing and saying, "Sono dalla dottoressa. Penso di avere una bronchite..." (I'm at the doctor's. I think I have bronchitis...). A few other people were on the phone either talking or sending text messages. They all sounded rather sick to me with colds at least. No one seemed happy to be there or for waiting, but they did greet everyone who came in and out of the office. I was surprised as I didn't remember everyone doing this, so maybe it's only my palestra (gym) where people aren't as polite.

I kept my eye on the man who was ahead of me and as he walked in, he said he'd be quick to all of us. A woman in the sala d'attesa let out a sigh of relief. I gathered my things and waited eagerly for him to leave. When he got to the front door to say goodbye, I jumped up and walked into the small examination room where the dottoressa (female doctor) was sitting behind her desk, talking on the phone.

There was a guy outside hovering the doctor's office door when I went to shut the door. She didn't greet me right away because she was talking and writing up a ricetta medicale (prescription). She hung up the phone, walked into the sala d'attesa where the guy was standing and handed him the ricetta.

When she got back inside, she shook my hand and said, "Ciao, come stai? da tanto che non ci si vede." (Hi, how are you? It's been a while since we've seen each other.) I was thinking about how I have to remember to wash my hands when I leave and not to touch my face.

We chatted for a few seconds and then I handed her my note from my other doctor. She read it and quickly began writing out my ricetta. She copied down my numbers from my libretto sanitario (health care card) and didn't say much to me about my ricetta. She sat back in her chair and talked to me some more. She was friendly, but I kept thinking of all the people waiting outside in the sala d'attesa. I picked up my jacket and said goodbye. We shook hands again and that reminded me that I had to wash my hands immediately: I don't think she washes her hands between patients. I could be wrong, but I've never seen them do it between patients before.

I quickly left my medico di famiglia to get to the farmacia (pharmacy) before they closed at 7:30PM.

I handed the woman at the farmacia behind the counter my ricetta for the medicine that is supposed to cost me 20 Euros. She stamped the ricetta, which she kept, and handed me the small box. We said our good-byes, and I walked out.

I walked all the way home with my broken umbrella, feeling a little unwell myself. I wondered if it was because I had been walking in the rain for a long time or because I was stuck in a sala d'attesa with a bunch of sick people for an hour and a half. I walked briskly home through the rain and threw my umbrella away. I immediately washed my hands, but didn't feel any better. I should feel good about saving myself 20 Euros, and using a 2 Euro umbrella for a few months, but I still wish that I could've just stayed home where it was warm and dry.

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