“I’ll be right back,” I said.
My wife looked back at me from the passenger seat. “We’ll meet you here in the parking lot,” she responded.
I pulled on the newly purchased orange and white rubber gloves and walked toward the door of the AAA office. My driver’s license had expired and I needed to renew it. This is silly to wear gloves, isn’t it? I wondered silently. Then I remembered the news stories I had read earlier in the day. About a spreading infectious virus. No. It wasn’t silly.
Pulling the glass door open, I entered the office and felt myself immediately greeted by an eerie quiet. Don’t these places usually pipe in background music? Perhaps not. Inside, only three employees manned the entire large AAA office. Several desks sat empty to my right as I entered the queue. Only one other customer in front of me quietly conversed with the help desk clerk.
As I waited, I overheard a few conversations: “Yes, well I wanted to let you know that I am going to be out at least ten days,” one employee stated into a beige telephone. “I care for elderly parents, and, well…I just can’t take any chances.”
Next to me to my right, another employee spoke into a different phone. I could sense the irritation in her voice. “I’ve been on hold for nearly three hours, and my clients need to cancel their trip. They’re supposed to leave tomorrow. Can someone please help me with this?” I thought about the family whose trip would not happen. How long it takes to plan a trip. And I thought about the woman who cares for her elderly parents. I thought about my young family, waiting for me in the car outside.
The world feels different right now.