I quickly hopped up and slammed a pill because I didn’t even want to feel it. I sat down at the kitchen table to wonder, now what?
I could call my boss at about 5 AM and I wondered what I should I tell him? If I didn’t go to work, he would need to cover my route. Someone has to work; this is the way it is.
He would have to come from the city, I would have to meet him at the warehouse and inventory every chip and cracker in the truck and the warehouse, and then he would cover my job. That would take 2 hours right there just to inventory. It would take 4 or 5 hours if I counted from the moment I was sitting there to the point where I would be on the other side of this, to include his travel time. That, plus I get a cranky boss. They do not make it easy to call in sick to Frito Lay, especially if you work in the country.
And what should I tell him? Come down for a day? A week? 10 days? Forever? I didn’t know. I just didn’t know what to do so I decided to go to work. I am not really the type to sit still. I think better when I’m moving, so I washed up and was out the door at 3:15AM.
This was an hour earlier than usual. I had to see the doc at 3:00, so I had about 12 hours to do my route. I was behind from the day before so it was not near enough time, especially with one hand. I decided to do the best I could and at the same time see what I could do… how much I could get done.
I knew this was stupid but I really couldn’t think of anything smarter to do. I figured if I hung around at home, I’d probably start crying again. What good would that do? I was sure I’d feel better on the move and if it wasn’t going to work out, I could still call my boss at 5 AM.
On the highway heading to my first store, and the coffee I would pick up there, I felt pretty good. I liked going down the road, I still do. I popped a tape in the deck and started singing.
I sang something normal as if nothing had happened. I liked the early morning and tried to find my usual groove. I actually thought it might be a good day somehow but as it turned out the day is brutal. And it was inhumanly hot, too.
People wanted to know about my hand and I didn’t know what to say. I was behind because of it, and they wanted to chat. Oh brother. Even strangers had questions. People were driving me nuts with their concern, but I was doing it, though. I was working with one hand but it was grossly harsh.
If you asked, I’d have to say it was an obscenely hard day. 40 times I felt like giving up. I had to fight tears a few times but my hand did not hurt and eventually 2:30 rolled around and I headed to the doctor. No way would I show up late, I have Capricorn.
I walked into the office, relieved. It was pure hell out there and I was glad to be off the truck. I didn’t finish but decided I wouldn’t work any more that day because I felt really beaten.
I was not going to go to the warehouse either. I’d load in the morning, if I worked in the morning. Will, would be waiting there, I was sure of that. He’d be starved for gossip but those are the breaks. I just didn’t feel I could deal with him. I knew him will enough to know he would put the screws to me today. He would go after real information, in relentless fashion and I didn’t feel I had the energy to hold him off. I didn’t have the energy for anything actually.
I was early at the doc, but they were ready for me. I walked right into the exam room and the doctor stared at me.
“Elsa! Did you go to work today?” he asked.
Uh oh. Busted. I guess it shows when you’ve been in a tin truck all day in 105 degree weather.
“Yes I did.”
He didn’t say anything. He looked pissed. He was truly pissed but he moderated his reaction and I was glad because I was tired.
“Let’s look at your hand,” he said. “You were not supposed to go to work today. I will think about what I am going to do about that. I should have put you in the hospital.”
I kept quiet and let him scold. I had been getting in trouble most my life and it didn’t bother me much, if at all. I saw the pan of blue soaking water and I saw him switch gears and stuff his anger.
“Okay, Elsa, before I touch your hand, how does it feel? Does it hurt? Can you feel any pain? I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I can’t feel it,” I said. “Go ahead, it’s good.”
He nodded. He was still pissed but he was trying. He started peeling back the gauze strips. Slow, slow, slow. If it were me, I’d do it fast, fast, fast but I keep my mouth shut.
He told me he thought about me all night. I thanked him and told him that I made it okay. The pills worked and so forth. He told me he was glad he didn’t know I was on the truck. He said, if he had any idea I was out there he’d have found me and bodily taken me off the truck. If he had any idea, I was gonna do that… la la la and so forth. I just listened.
“You drove away from here in your truck yesterday didn’t you Elsa?”
“I did,” I said.
“Damn you,” he said. “I saw a Frito truck go by the window, and I thought…” He shook his head and I didn’t respond. I always do what I want because I don’t know any other way. I don’t have any parents, this is why. He continued to unwrap the gauze. “Has it bothered you? Have you had any pain?”
“I felt some stinging this morning. That’s it.”
“That’s good. I gave you strong pills.”
“Yeah, it’s been good. It hasn’t bothered me at all,” I said.
He continued to unwrap until all the gauze was off. Under the gauze was a sleeve type thing. It was like a thin sock. “You don’t feel anything, right?”
He said that he is going to lift it up. “Look away if you don’t want to see.”
I looked away. I felt him turn my palm away and I turned back to see him staring at my hand. He didn’t say anything and either did I. A long time passed and finally I asked, “What? How does it look?”
“What do you mean? What does it look like? It is better?”
“There is nothing on your hand. Do you want to see this?”
“See what? Nothing?”
“There is nothing to see. It’s gone. Look at this. I don’t believe this,” he said with a small laugh.
He turned my hand around to face me and I thought he was joking. Is this a joke? There was nothing there. It was just my regular hand and I wondered what the point was. Why was he showing me my regular hand? “There is nothing there,” I said.
“That is what I mean Elsa. The burn is gone. What did you do?”
“Nothing. It’s gone? Maybe it just healed. That’s good isn’t it?” I asked.
“Good? Maybe it healed? This is weird. Yes it’s good…I think. It’s weird. You didn’t do anything?”
I didn’t answer. I didn’t know what he meant. I went to work. I didn’t unwrap it. That was I did.
“Don’t answer that. Of course you didn’t do anything. You went to work today. You didn’t do anything. You left here and went to work like nothing happened.”
“Yes.” I shook my head as it started to dawn on me. Did this mean I didn’t have a problem? “So my hand is better?” I asked.
He chuckled. “Yeah.”
“Cool. Yeah! So do I still need to soak it?” I asked.
He shook his head and he laughed. “You’re not normal. Do you know that?”
I stared at him curiously having no idea what to say. If I was hearing this right, I did not have a problem. Well, I’ll be damned.
He looked me in the eye. “You don’t know that do you?”
“No, I don’t think I do,” I said. I was getting embarrassed wondering what I was doing in a doctor’s office when there was nothing wrong with me. I wanted go, it was embarrassing and felt kind of nervous. He sat there a minute holding my hand and I waited for him to let go of it. I wanted it back. Since it is not messed up, I mean. I wanted to claim it.
He laid my hand down on the tray like it was still injured and he walked over to the pan of blue water sitting by the sink. “No you don’t need to soak it,” he said in a strange voice. “There is nothing to soak. Nope. No. The skin is not even broken, Elsa. Nope. We won’t be needing this, he said as he dumped the blue stuff down the sink with a flourish.
“Elsa, look at your hand. There is nothing there.”
“I see that. It looks normal. That’s good, right?”
“Yes, it’s good but no it’s not normal. How did you do that? I want to know how you did that. You had a serious burn on that hand. Burns like that don’t heal over night and they don’t heal without scarring.”
I looked at my hand. “This one did.” I said with a chuckle.
He chuckled too and looked at me queerly. “You’re something else. You don’t get it do you? Wait a minute. Would you just wait a minute? You look like you want to leave. Don’t leave. Just don’t go anywhere, magic Frito Girl.”
“Sure,” I said, smiling. I was happy as hell because did you hear? My goose was not cooked after all! My hand was fine.
He left the room and this is when I looked at my hand really well. I didn’t see anything. Well maybe a blushy looking spot but maybe not. There was really nothing there.
It didn’t seem remarkable to me. It was just my normal hand. It was my plain hand that I had always had. The doc came back in with the scrubbing nurse.
“Looks like the town gets to keep it’s Frito Girl after all,” he said. “Elsa, show her your hand.”
I held up both hands, palms out. Both of them were regular. She looked at the doc. She looked aghast actually and the doc shook his head.
“Is that the hand you scrubbed yesterday?” he asked. “Is that the same hand? That’s the Frito Girl, right? Not an impostor? That is the same woman?” The nurse shook her head.
“Hey. I have no idea,” the doctor said. “She says she didn’t do anything to it. And by the way? That was her than went by in the truck yesterday. What did I tell you? I told you that was her. And she went to work today too, can you believe that?”
Scrubbing nurse couldn’t believe that.
The doc came over to me, took my hand in his and looked at it closely, “I never thought I would see something like this,” he said, thoughtfully. “I have heard of things like this but I never… well, I didn’t think I’d ever see anything like this.
I felt embarrassed. I thought they must have saw it wrong, yesterday. “Well, I didn’t do anything,” I said, wishing to escape. “Do we need to wrap it up?”
I wanted to get out of there. Now that my hand was okay, I had work to do. Do you know how far behind I was on my route? I missed a two whole towns and the line driver was coming from the plant with more chips on Saturday. I had to move some stuff out of my warehouse or he’d have no place to put my order. I had to sell some chips or else.
The doctor laughed. “Wrap what? Would you look at your hand? Nope, no gauze today. And look,” he said, pointing to a pile of rolls of gauze. “I was ready but there is nothing there so there is nothing to wrap!”
“Oh, okay, I said, feeling kind of dumb. “So you mean, I can go?”
He chuckled. “I don’t believe you. Yes! Yes! We won’t hold you up! You are free to go. Go! Go sell Fritos! Go back to your truck and sing. You’ve got a lot to sing about, Elsa and apparently you have no idea.”
He was right about that. It would be 10 years before I ever really thought about this. “Really, I can go?”
“Really. I guess this town is just supposed to have a Frito Girl.”
I smiled but I didn’t get that part either, I was just being polite. I had not had a chance to assimilate that people saw me out driving around. I’d not registered it yet.
It kind of hurts to find something like that out but it’s the story of my life. Everyone knows something, but me. Common knowledge is something I don’t have and it bothers me.
I shook the doctor’s hand at his request. He said he wanted to shake my unburned hand and it made me laugh. “Elsa, next time I see you at Quick Stop, I’m going to say hello. Is that okay?”
“And if I see you drive by, singing in your truck, I’m going to wave. Can I do that?”
“Am I going to be your doctor? Next time you need a doctor, are you going to come see me?”
“Yes!” I said, smiling. “And thanks!”
“I didn’t do anything. I’m good but I’m not that good. Go be happy, Frito Girl. You’re not normal.”
I left him shaking his head and went out to my truck thinking that it was a lot of to do about nothing. I wish I’d have known my hand was okay. I worked one-handed all day for nothing.
I drive off in classic oblivious style, only noting that it was nice to have two hands to steer with. I headed to the warehouse to find Will.
I figured if I told. Will I was okay, notorious gossip that he was, everyone else will be informed within the hour. Rainbo could bite me. So could the Coke guy, I was back.