Tuesday with Thalia: The Road Taken

And I – I took the one less travelled by
And that has made all the difference.

Sometimes I use that to refer to any one of the less popular decisions I make. Homeschooled. Lutheran. Conservative. Musician. Those choices shaped me, surely, and it has made all the difference. But sometimes there is a more concrete and immediate interpretation.

Yesterday I went to the VA hospital to complete my volunteer orientation and screening. You wouldn’t believe what hurdles exist. I’ve been fingerprinted by the US Government. (A road of crime… no longer feasible without latex gloves…) I proved I was me with a social security card (A road of anonymity…long ago forsaken). And for the last time, people, I don’t have tuberculosis! Jeeesh. (Ruby Gillis, you’re on that road alone). At noon, I finished part one of TB test #2, but the rest of the orientation didn’t start until 2pm, so I left my car in the lot and went for a walk. To think, and not to worry. I wasn’t prepared for a walk (no gloves, no hat, coat that doesn’t zip), but it was better than sitting in the waiting area, even with the Ballad of the White Horse which I keep near as love itself in my Mary Poppins purse of deeping doom. So I used my feet and walked away to think.

I got to a bike path that leads left toward campus or right toward a mall. I stood there, attempting to beat Giotto at his own game and trace a perfect circle on the pavement. Sherlock Holmes says that is a sign of an affaire de coeur, but this time, he’d have missed the mark. I was deciding between left toward a friend or right toward christmas presents. In the end, I went right toward christmas presents. After all, I’ll see my friend on Thursday at the outside, but Time’s A-Wastin’, and christmas presents don’t buy themselves. More’s the pity.

Yes, I turned right. I walked until I got really cold, and thought that a moment in Whole Foods would not be amiss. I could see what they had for a salad bar and maybe regain my appetite.

While I milled about aimlessly, I overheard a woman say to the Bakery clerk “Do you have gluten free bread crumbs?” The useless clerk said, No, we don’t. Sorry. As a recovering Customer Service Whiz Kid, (choke…cough…giggle), I was pretty horrified, and could answer the question, so I walked over to the woman and calmly explained that I am pretty much the best person to talk to. Kellogs makes corn “bread” crumbs that are tasty and fry up like a dream. She was practically crying when I finished my sentence and she told me why.

“My son just got back from Afghanistan, and after a year of MREs, well… he was just diagnosed as a Celiac. He’s coming home for Christmas, and I don’t know how to help him. I want to make him cookies, and I don’t know what to do.”

Her cart was filled with things she didn’t really need. She was trying so hard to find something that would show her baby boy that, in a world of Flour and Rye,  life was going to be ok. I gave her some quick tips and my card and left her to her devices while I continued milling. She found me again, moments later to ask about lasagna noodles, quinoa and xanthan gum.

I didn’t make it to the mall. The salad bar was full of hempen hippy food. But I am glad I turned right.


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