The map is not the territory.
The swollen red eye allergy I've been fighting for over a week finally bugged me enough to travel to Great Falls (80 miles) to see my eye doc, Dr. Padilla and his assistant, Thaddeus. I was very pleased that they would make five minutes to take a look. But I left too quickly -- and since a few years ago in a spell of upgrading -- I took the card with my travel checklist off the inside of my back door, so I got down there with no wristwatch nor my insurance card. (It hasn't come yet anyway, so I'm supposed to carry a copy of the acceptance letter, which I forgot to make. The intake clerk said it was okay to send the insurance papers in the mail. )
To solve the wristwatch problem, I went to Walmart and bought a cheap alarm clock. I think I've only been there once before, a decade ago, and it felt like something out of a sci-fi movie. The military of the Asian wars had brought back Asian wives, now rather older, but justifying long aisles of kinds of rice and mysterious canned goods. But there was NO plain puffed rice, though Google had assured me that Walmart was the last source on the planet. Breakfast cereal was the usual sugar-soaked stuff. There were no maternal-looking Asian women in those aisles. The wives of the current airmen (GF is Malmstrom Air Force Base) either had children with them and looked exhausted, or did NOT have children with them and looked . . . too skinny with electrified hair.
Not my Ranger but close.
I got the Ranger's oil changed at my usual instant place, but it had changed hands. These young guys were highly militarized, which is not surprising since GF is a barracks town. so it was like they were down there in the hole counting cadence. "Burbledy hoop, ips?" "Burbledy check." Mysteriously, when I'm in Great Falls the pickup often stalls or simply won't start while parked in the ordinary lot in the ordinary way. I can never figure that out. One mechanic suggested I wasn't pushing the pedals all the way down or the key all the way in. I'm inclined to think it has something to do with its computer. Maybe it needs re-programming since I bought it 25 years ago. Or maybe it's just that I get confused and startled everywhere I go and jam the computing. But just parked??? There was no flying saucer hovering overhead, but given Malmstrom, I would not be surprised.
Barnes and Noble is my calm-down place and since there's a mock Starbucks at one end of the bookstore, I get quiche and skinny coffee latté. They say, "Flavor?" I say, "Coffee flavor." They look at the row of bottles, catch on and laugh dutifully.
The best moment was first arriving. A great big bearded friendly guy waited to open the first door for me, then said, "If you'll go slow, I'll get the next one, too." Then he said, "I guess I should more properly say, slowly, the way the English do." I said, "Go slow sounds like a logo." He said something else that rhymed, and I said, "You're pretty fast!" It would have been nice to get to know him. In fact, at that point to just put my arms around him and lean.
As usual I got into a wrangle with the little girly eye technician and made her indignant. I think they are an artifact of the wretched self-esteem movement which assured obedient and pretty little girls that if they were conscientious and filled out their workbooks exactly, that would mean they were above average and could get around to doing brain surgery as soon as they were a little older. They are convinced that the map (their questionnaire) IS the territory and THEY are in charge of it. She wanted to know what eye meds I'd tried so far. I don't know. I don't even check their expiration dates. (She didn't ask about THAT.) I have half-a-dozen kinds bought different times and places and drip one of them in whenever my eye is troublesome, which is rarely. Some are replacement tears, some are antihistamines, and a few are gel. She wanted brand names and to know EXACTLY what they were. I suppose I should have put them in a ziplock and taken them along.
In the past I had insisted vehemently that they record the info about my allergy to the lidocaine or whatever they use to make a glaucoma check possible. She wanted to know whether they had experimented with all the different kinds of numbing drops to see which ones worked. I said I thought that was pretty stupid since they make my eyes swell shut and I was in enough trouble already. "Trying out" meds that do damage doesn't sound sane to me. I notice that my allergy was in the file -- but as a sticky note, which explains why it keeps disappearing and I have to press my defenses hard. Whoever wrote the previous notes got several things wrong. Maybe she didn't believe what I told her -- this one was highly dubious about whether I were telling the truth, the whole truth, and no truth she didn't want to know. She DID want to know on a scale of one to ten how bad the pain was. (It's just sore and fluctuates depending on computer hours.) She wanted to know exactly where my headaches were. (It was a mistake to mention headaches. She had a whole new list.)
Dr. Padilla and Thaddeus arrived, checked my eye, confirmed that my "Dr. Google Quack" probably had the diagnosis right and gave me a little bottle of stronger drops. That's all I wanted.
The pickup didn't stall again so I got home safely. That's all I know, Moe. But I did notice that field burning is underway, so maybe my problem is not just house dust from the books and papers I've been working on.