Today on the bus home from work, five employees of the transit system got on to check passengers’ tickets. There were at most thirty-five people on the bus. Wasn’t a team of five a bit excessive? Did they think they would need back-up?
I’ve been sick for most of the week. Getting sick never fails to remind me how difficult it must be for people who have a chronic or long-term illness or disability. After only four days, I am impatient to get better and regain my energy. I am tired of feeling rundown at work, wanting to crawl into bed at 7pm, and waking up overheated in the middle of the night.
I did learn a few interesting things while sick, though:
• I had no idea what the French equivalents are to the medicine I take in the States.
I had brought some painkillers and cold medicine from the States, but I realized that they would quickly run out with one bad cold. After some inquiring texts to friends here, I now know the different names for these medicines.
• Directions on how to take medicine aren’t always on the back of the box here!
When I look at a medicine box, I expect to see dosage and instructions in a concise line or two. The pain reliever I picked up at the pharmacy today had none of this, so I asked the cashier, who told me to take one pill at a time, three times a day. Outside the pharmacy, I opened the box and scanned through the little folded up paper inside—you know, the one with warnings and side effects and small print. Halfway down the page I found the instructions for usage. I wonder how sick tourists who don’t speak French figure out what medicine to buy and how much to take? Granted, I didn’t look at the other boxes in the pharmacy; maybe some had instructions on the back.
• I’ve got some cool friends here.
I knew that already, but it takes time for friendships to be tested. What I mean by that is the longer you’ve been friends with someone, the more opportunities you’ve had to go through different types of situations together, good and bad. Most of my oldest friends are not here, and among them I know who I can depend on. I remember who was there for me during hard times, who let me crash at their place last minute when I needed to, who met up with me during my short visits to the States despite their busy schedule, who tried to help me find a job, who I can call at any time of night.
Over here, there are a lot of people I have fun with and consider friends, but fewer whom I would not hesitate to ask if I needed something. This week, a couple of friends checked in to see how I was feeling, one offered to share her stash of American medicine, and another offered to buy what I needed at the pharmacy and drop it off at my apartment. It was a reminder that the next time I feel like an island, I should remember that there are other people on it who care about me.
It is finally the weekend, and I have cancelled all my plans. Well, admittedly I made substitute plans that only involve me walking across the street and drinking a Shirley Temple—I couldn’t help it, my instinct is to say “Yes” to seeing people. Hopefully next week I will no longer be downing boxes of Ricola and scaring my colleagues with my sniffles.