“Your total is $12.92.”
Ginny tried to put some sort of feeling into the words, tried to make them sound as friendly as she hoped the smile on her face looked. Truth was, she just wasn’t feeling it today. She handed over the pack of Marlboros, watched her customer run his credit card through the machine, and looked with an odd longing as his sipped the steaming black liquid that he purchased every morning. It looked like coffee and smelled like coffee, and since it was made from those same aromatic beans, Ginny supposed that it technically was coffee, though she knew it couldn’t hold a candle to the stuff she used to drink three or four cups of each day from the upscale shop in the lobby of the building where she used to work.
Oh what she wouldn’t give for one cup of the good stuff today.
It had been too long since she tasted it, but she still dreamed of the stuff. She still dreamed of a lot of the things she once took for granted, the luxuries that had disappeared when the hospital downsized and her job as patient liaison had disappeared. “We need to focus on patients,” she’d been told. “Getting them in the doors, treated quickly, back out as fast as possible.” What the public thought of the hospital didn’t matter anymore. Neither did long-term relationships with the patients. The fact that there were more complications from this “drive-thru” care didn’t really matter, either. In fact, that was seen more as a plus. Nothing could be conclusively blamed on the hospital. It just looked like people were getting more sick, needing more hospital services, and bringing in more money to the hospital.
And leaving Ginny here, at the gas station, selling gas, coffee and cigarettes to the doctors, nurses, and hospital board members she used to work with each day.
She wondered if their attitudes would change when they were the ones neglected after a serious illness. That thought almost made the smile on Ginny’s face real.