Updated: Aug 23, 2021
I finally decided to go over to the hospital to have my ingrown toe nail looked at.
I walked up a couple of flights of stairs to arrive at the examination room where I was greeted by an elderly and somewhat disheveled doctor who looked years beyond retirement age.
He came over and looked at my toe and walked away and into a small room where I saw he was preparing what looking a triage kit to take care of my toe.
However, when he returned, he was putting a white, nylon surgical glove on one hand and made some sort of inappropriate remark about the procedure he was about to perform.
When I asked him his intention, he merely said it was part of the protocol on any examination of a patient my age.
I said that I hadn't come for an examination, only to have someone look at my toe.
I began to understand the doctor was probably brought out of retirement to help out with the enormous increase of patients at the hospital now that COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations had gone down considerably.
The old man walked into an adjacent office where I could hear him consulting with a woman I later found out was the attending physician.
The woman said since I hadn't come for a check up in a while and seeing how I was over 50, they were obliged to run a series of tests. She also said that the other doctor and herself were concerned by how I looked. When I asked her to clarify that, she merely looked at the other doctor and refused to answer my question.
I became slightly nervous and aggitated and said I was leaving.
The woman said I would not be allowed to leave until they had finished the examination and any subsequent tests.
Just then, an Asian woman I thought resembled Jill, a childhood friend of mine, emerged from another room carrying a large placard that she held over her head while loudly chanting the phrase on the placard, "we're social, we're social," over and over again.
While the doctors were temporarily distracted by the Asian woman's chants, I grabbed my jacket and ran out the door and into the stairwell aware that the doctors, and the Black security guard that was outside of the examination room, would soon be in pursuit.
Not remembering what floor the main entrance was on, I ran down two flights of stairs and opened the door.
I was certain it wasn't the floor where the main entrance was, but I saw a sign that said exit so I quickly walked to a bay of large automatic doors and as one was just swinging open, I walked out and into the hospital courtyard.
Just then, I saw my friend Derrick, who I had only met recently on Facebook, standing in front of a pay telephone waiting for the person who was on the phone to finish.
I walked up to Derrick who was pleasantly surprised to see me in person for the first time and asked what I was doing in Maryland.
I told him I was actually in Spain, where I had returned to see my doctor about my toe and proceeded to tell him about what had just occurred at the medical center.
He felt bad that I had such a traumatic experience and asked if I wanted to join him in the cafeteria for a drink or something to eat.
We went into the staff cafeteria where he said he had special privileges seeing that his wife was on staff at the medical center.
We went through the food line and I chose a chocolate fudge brownie and a cappuccino.
As the cafeteria was crowded, we walked over to a long table where we noticed a couple of free places. We asked the woman sitting there if she minded if we sat down. The woman, who was concentrating on reading a journal, waved us over and we sat down.
A few seconds later, the woman looked up and said "aren't you Ricky?"
I couldn't believe it, but it looked like Greer, the daughter of one of my mother's late friends who had unfriended me on Facebook a few years earlier, though her physical appearance had completely changed as she was now quite heavyset and had undergone cosmetic surgery and had dental implants.
She reached over the table and hugged and kissed me on both cheeks and asked what I was doing there.
Once again I repeated the story about my sore toe and the fiasco that followed.
Then, I introduced Greer to Derrick telling him how we had known each other for more than 30 years and how our mothers were best of friends.
Then, in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way, I told Derrick how Greer suddenly unfriended me from Facebook some years ago for no apparent reason.
Greer said she thought that I had unfriended her and I laughed saying it was probably just a glitch.
Greer said she would never have unfriend me, especially because our mothers were so close but even more important how grateful she had been seeing how I had referred her petsitting business to so many of my friends over the years, some who had even become regular customers.
Then, I jokingly added how I was still waiting for my commission check for all those referrals.
Greer smiled but was was obviously taken aback by my comment and appeared slightly embarrassed and even a little annoyed.
She then reached into her purse and pulled out a bill and placed it on the table in front of me.
I told her I was just joking but was suddenly fascinated by the bill she had placed on the table.
While it looked like normal U.S. currency, the bill was in the denomination of 24 dollars.
I asked what kind of bill it was and she explained something about changes in "rational markets" and that all currency had now been digitalized and contained software that would allow the value of both paper money and coins to fluctuate according to current market value.
I told Greer and Derrick that I needed to get going that I had a flight back home in a few hours and had to pack.
I left the two at the the table where they continued conversing.
In the parking lot, my friend Christian pulled up in his new car, which was a hybrid van/station wagon. Chris had agreed to lend me his car for a few hours so I could get the rest of my things from my grandparent's house before my flight.
Saying he was in a rush to get to a rehearsal, Chris handed me the keys and jumped into a waiting car that appeared to be occupied by the other members of his band.
Before getting into the car, I wanted to open the rear door to see how much storage space there was.
After inspecting the hold, I found I wasn't able to close the door as it appeared to be broken and closed with tape.
I went inside the back compartment having entered through the front of the vehicle and noticed a roll of packing tape near the back door. Assuming it was there to secure the door, I cut off a few strips and managed to hold the door closed.
I arrived at my grandparent's house on Maplewood and parked the van across the street.
I proceeded to be removing my possessions from the van and laid them out on a concrete bench.
Remembering I still had things to get from my grandparent's house, I decided it would be okay to leave my things on the bench, that the neighborhood was safe and it was unlikely that anyone would steal my things in the few minutes it would take me to collect my clothes upstairs.
Inside my grandparent's house, I began taking my clothes out of the front hall closet and trying to decide what I wanted to wear on the plane.
I chose a blue long-sleeved shirt, but soon remembered it would probably be very hot once the plane landed in Spain, so I opted for another wardrobe choice which included denim shorts that I could wear leggings under, and a long-sleeved t-shirt under a short-sleeved one. Then, once I arrived in the warmer climate of Spain, I could merely take off the leggings and long-sleeved t-shirt prior to landing and walk off the plane in cooler clothing.
Then I woke up.