My friend drove me up to the doctor in Eureka in the pickup I lent him while his car was being repaired. I had been seeing my PA in Arcata but wanted a second opinion—no one seemed to know what was the matter with me. I waited for half an hour surrounded by coughing and hacking Eureka denizens—they did not look well. I went outside and called Buzz. “They still haven't called me—I might abandon at any moment.”
I looked around at all the sick people—one woman was honking as if her insides might explode. At the forty-five minute mark I decided it would be healthier to get out of the waiting room then to stay any longer waiting for the doctor. I told the nice lady at the desk I was leaving and she said I was next up.
“I've got to go now,” I said. “I'll try to reschedule later.”
I went outside and called Buzz and it went straight to voicemail. I called nine more times, got voicemail each time, and my messages became increasingly agitated. I started walking to the shopping district nearby where he had last been, called again a couple times, and finally he answered. He said he was checking out the restaurant we had been thinking about going to for lunch and he'd be there soon.
“What happened?” I said when he rolled up.
“Oh, I had my phone off,” he said.
“I didn't want to disturb people in the store if it rang.”
“Buzz, you had one thing to do, get my call and pick me up, and your phone was off?”
“I guess it was on vibrate and I didn't notice it.”
I stayed cool and we went to lunch, the old reliable Mexican. That night I started to seethe and in the morning I exploded.
I called him. “I want my truck back.”
“Why?” he said.
“To teach you a fucking lesson! When your one mission is to get my call and pick me up you keep your fucking phone on!”
(He had done something similar when he drove me to the hospital a few weeks before for my cat scan. As I was registering in the office he said he was going to wait in the cafeteria. After the cat scan he was not there. I went back to the main waiting room and he wasn't there. I wandered down the sterile halls of the hospital, out into the rain, and he wasn't in the truck either. I didn't have my dumb phone with me so I borrowed the office phone—straight to voicemail. He finally called back and said he was waiting in the cat scan office where he had left me.
“You said you would be in the cafeteria,” I said.
“Well, I went back to the other office. I thought you'd pass back through there after the cat scan,” he said.
“Hey, when you pick a place to meet you stick to that place, you don't change it in your own mind!”)
“I want my Nissan back now for three days!” I yelled.
“Okay,” he said.
“Yeah, I'll bring it by this afternoon.”
I didn't care that he was a busy person with lots of music and theatre rehearsals and lived ten miles out of town—he could fucking hitchhike in the rain! If he had said no, that he wouldn't give it back, I was going to tell him that I would go around town looking for it and when I found it throw his shit out on the street and drive it away. No, I would put his shit in a box and call him to get it before someone else did.
About forty-five minutes later I had calmed down and was feeling a little bad about taking back the loaner. Then he called me to plead. “Look, umm...”
“You can keep the truck,” I said.
“Well, yeah because I was calling around and the only ones I could maybe borrow were broken down junkers.”
“So were you stressed for the last hour wondering how you were going to get into town?” I said.
“Yeah, I was, a lot!”
“Good,” I said. “Maybe you learned your lesson. If you're waiting for a call to pick someone up at the doctor's you keep your fucking phone on where you can fucking hear it!” I was screaming at him.
“You know you really shouldn't alienate your care-givers, people who are trying to help you,” he said.
“Well you really shouldn't alienate people who lend you their nice spare vehicle for weeks and months,” I said.
“True,” he said.
(A year later I traded him the '98 pickup for a breakfast at The Woodrose but then the pandemic hit and I still haven't gotten my eggs and potatoes.)