The yellow paint is peeling on the golden arches that mark the entrance to the restaurant area. A young woman comes through them with two little boys. Their eyes light up as they look around at the possibilities. This is not lost on me. It seems that nothing is lost on me today. The security camera at the automotive desk was aimed on the bald spot on the back of my head. I could see it clearly on the monitor as I handed over my car keys. This is something I don’t notice when I look in the mirror. I think I look younger than I am. I wonder what these other people think.
Yesterday, I saw a doctor for the first time in 35 years; paid the bill with Medicare. He referred me to a specialist. When I called to set up the appointment, the secretary told me to be sure to bring in a list of my medications. Other than the antibiotic my own doctor has just prescribed, I’m not taking any medications. It seems like a question they would have asked my 80-year-old mother before she died. This is all so strange.
An old guy comes in, gets a cup of coffee, sits at the next table facing the entrance, same as I am. For some reason I am annoyed. I hurry to finish and leave. I wander around my favorite places, but the computer stuff and cell phones are getting too complicated these days, and the bicycle seats look too small. I check out the fishing gear, but it seems I lost interest around the time I was eligible to fish without a license. Nothing here interests me anymore, not even the young women in tight shorts pushing shopping carts up and down the aisles.
It suspect my car should be ready, but I have not been paged. I look out a window to the lot by the automotive bays and see that the old Toyota has been moved. I wait at the desk for the greasy, disgruntled Walmart, bottom of the automotive repair chain guy to return.
“I must have missed your page,” I say.
“I didn’t page you,” he says.
“I noticed my car has been moved.”
“I got the paper work, but they didn’t bring me the keys.”
“They’re there now,” I say, pointing to the hook where they are hanging.
He grunts and rings me up.
It seems that just about every oil change I have ever done at Wal-mart has gone the same: the coffee at McDonald’s; the computers; the bikes; the fishing equipment; the car keys hanging unnoticed on the hook. Only today is somehow different. It feels like I have slipped through the golden arches into a strange new era.