I had already taken multiple cold remedies when I got to the nearest Minute Clinic. I had spent the night ordering a Philly cheesesteak with extra Chinese food, watching How I Met Your Mother, and quickly going through the box of one-ply tissues in my budget hotel room. That morning, I had discovered tea in the lobby, and I was on cup three. Nothing tasted like anything.
The wait time flashed on the screen – 131 minutes.
I googled “coffee near me” and clicked on a local coffee shop five minutes away.
When I walked in, I interrupted a conversation between a mother of two and the barista. And when my coffee was ready, I half-stumbled into the attached dining room and found a seat by a plug. One of the kids ran into the room with her gameboy and hid under the table. I heard sound effects through the tablecloth until her mom called for her.
With 29 minutes left of the 131, I started to pack up my things. The mom noticed me. “Are you from here?” There was a Southern twang to her voice and she had her hair in a mom bun.
“No, I’m from Cleveland.” Her eyebrows raised.
She looked at me a little closer. “What’s wrong with you?”
So many things.
“I’m hoping it’s nothing too bad. I have an appointment down the street, so I figured it would be nicer to wait in a coffee shop.”
“Do you want me to pray for you?”
I thought this was mostly well-intentioned. I thought she would add me to her list at night. I thought she would say goodbye and wish me well. “Yeah, thank you so much.”
“Alright, I’m gonna lay hands on you now. Is that okay?” I nodded, a little confused.
“Do you accept the Lord Savior Jesus Christ into your heart?” I thought this only happened on TV, that she would sway and push off against my shoulder and shout “healed!” But she didn’t. She did pray that my nose would be unclogged, which I think was her creativity and not a set stranger prayer script. She finished with an “amen.” I mimicked, late and off-key.
I looked up at her and sniffled a “thank you,” wondering where her children had been for what seemed like 25 minutes. A new couple had walked in and I could hear them mumbling about what coffee they should get.
“God bless,” she half-whispered and walked out the side door. Her kids ran out behind her as if it was just a normal Saturday.