A Day on the Mainland


Tuesday, I had to go to the mainland, to the hospital, for a screening procedure. I scheduled my flight off the island for 10 AM, so that my morning wouldn’t be too hectic. My appointment at the hospital was set for two in the afternoon, and my return flight was 4:30. I made arrangements to use the car that my cousin keeps on the mainland.

Because I’d be off and back on the same day, in roughly the same time that I’d be away for work, it wasn’t necessary to tell the dogs any different. I had time to walk them before I left. There would be plenty of free time for browsing or relaxing or shopping before my appointment, and time to get groceries afterward. It should be an easy trip. I hated to count on it, though, because there’s always lots that could go wrong.

This is a busy time of year all over northern Michigan, and the little town of Charlevoix is no exception. They have major traffic congestion in the summer, compounded by a bridge on the main street that opens to let boats pass underneath. In the last couple months, the bridge has been stuck in the open position at least twice, for hours at a time, necessitating a lengthy detour. Under the best of circumstances, automobiles and pedestrians can make it difficult to get from one end of town to the other.

The last time I went over for a mammogram, the technician was mean. She snapped at me for not getting into the position that she was doing a poor job of describing to me, but clearly wanted me in. I was unprepared for rudeness so, instead of standing up for myself, I struggled to please her, and crept out of there feeling inept and ashamed. Then, put off scheduling another mammogram for longer than is recommended.

Monday night, I lay awake, trying to prepare myself. Traffic would be fine. If it made me too nervous, I could just park in a central location and walk. As for the technician, I would be ready. I planned my response, to be delivered with confidence and only a hint of sarcasm, as soon as her attitude deemed it appropriate.

“I’m sorry to be flat chested,” I planned to say, directly. “I’m sorry that, with age, my breasts have tended to gravitate toward my armpits. I’m sorry for many reasons, not the least of which is because it obviously makes your job so much more difficult. And it’s kind of a crap job to begin with, isn’t it?”

Having gotten her attention with empathy, I’d add a bit of sharing. “I have kind of a crap job, too. It’s not always fun, and it’s often damn hard. But I do it, because it’s my job. And I don’t take my frustration out on my customers. I’d appreciate it if you’d show me the same courtesy.”

Too pumped up from creating a plan for my anticipated problem to sleep, and having introduced the thought of my job into my restless brain, I went on to write an imaginary letter to my boss. I mentioned how discouraging, and bad for morale, it is – right in the middle of a killer-busy season – for him to talk about his plans to start dissolving the inventory before the end of summer, and shut down the business for the winter. He might presume he’s giving us fair warning, but what it sounds like is, “Ha-ha, you bunch of screw-ups, you’ll all be out of a job before long!”

Finally, at around three in the morning, I was able to fall asleep. Then I overslept. Not so much that I missed my flight, but enough to put “hectic” back in my morning. After one quick cup of coffee, I threw on my mosquito netting and took the dogs for their walk. Then a quick shower, dress, put out morning medicine and treats for the dogs, and out the door. In plenty of time…with a big sigh of relief.

The plane ride was lovely. Then I had a cup of coffee in a cute new place while reading the newspapers that were available there. I worked two crossword puzzles while drinking my second cup. I made a trip to the big thrift store, and found pants and shirts that meet the requirements for work, and for a working vacation I’m taking in August. I stopped at the bookstore, just to look, though I am not in need of books. The drugstore next, for a few essentials, and one bottle of jasmine-scented bubble bath. I bought two magazines, and paged through them over a BLT at lunchtime.

I got to the hospital a little early, and was moved through registration without delay. The technician that called me in for the mammogram was not the same Nurse Ratched-like character I remembered from the last time. This woman was cute and friendly. She had a nice smile, and bright red hair done up in braids. She gave excellent instructions, apologized for the discomfort, and never scolded me once!

Next, the grocery store, to take advantage of sales, and generally better prices than can be found on Beaver Island. Fresh blueberries, three pints for five dollars! A big bag of pistachios. Two perfectly ripe avocados. One rotisserie chicken. A Ciabatta loaf. Handmade wild mushroom ravioli!

Then to the airport, and home. An enthusiastic greeting for the three dogs, who were glad to see me, too, then I unloaded the car and put away the groceries. A happy walk through the woods was followed by dinner for all, and an early bedtime.

Trips to the mainland are nerve-wracking affairs, fraught with the possibility of discomfort or disaster. Sometimes, nothing goes wrong at all. Sometimes, like Tuesday, a trip to the mainland is a mini-vacation, refreshing and rejuvenating…and just exactly what I needed!


About cindyricksgers

I am an artist. I live on an island in northern Lake Michigan, USA. I have two grown daughters, four strong, smart and handsome grandsons and one beautiful, intelligent and charming granddaughter. I live with two spoiled dogs. I love walking in the woods around my home, reading, writing and playing in my studio.

6 responses »

  1. Oh I’m so glad you enjoyed a pleasant trip! ❤
    I really appreciated how you so perfectly described the feeling of being completely unprepared by other people's open hostility or plain old bad mood. I, too am always so shocked when people treat me like that! Shocked into compliance and silence and then, you are exactly right, it leaves you feeling ashamed. Sometimes when I go out, I can recognize that I'm feeling vulnerable and I have to wonder if the feeling comes from way too many moments with those negative and confusing people encounters!
    Your arrival home, with all your goodies, and your following walk in the woods sounds like the
    perfect way to end a great day.

  2. Oh our minds can tell such crazy stories! I am learning…slowly…to discard many of them and let the deeper self alert me to what’s important. It is so disconcerting when someone bops us out of the blue and we don’t know how to fully react. Thank you for sharing your human and sacred journey.

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