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Doctors all stare at screens now as they ask about family history. Heart disease? Oh my, yes. Everyone. Click. Cancer. Just a great aunt. Everyone else no. Click. Depression? Well, it's complicated. I just need to know. No, then. I guess. Not really. Click. Do you smoke? Like maybe four cigarettes per month, you know. When I'm out at the bar or something. Okay well click I'm supposed to tell you not to smoke, so, don't smoke.

I think my blood pressure is high. Is it high?

Not really. Are you afraid of being at the doctor?

Kind of.

Well then, let's just say that it's probably just that. Go to the right here and Janelle will take you to the lab.

Hi Janelle.

Hi, come this way.

Walked down the hall to the phlebotomy lab. The tech or phlebotomist or whatever was sitting in the exam chair, reading a magazine.

Me: Hey

Him: Hey

Me: I think you need to take some of my blood out of my body.

Him: Okay.

Got up out of the chair in a harumph-y kind of way, as if I was inconveniencing him.

He looked impatient and tired and a little annoyed. Turned out he had already been a doctor in Cuba, but needed to train again in the States in order to get his medical license. Absurd because Cuba has some of the best doctors in the world, right?


And you're one of them, aren't you, pal?

He lived in the Basque region of Spain for a while. His father owned an apartment in La Habana. Okay. So did he like it in the United States? He'd been here for about seven months.

No. I hate it. The people aren't nearly as warm.

You grew up in Cuba and northern Spain. You grew up among people even Hemingway found warm. No kidding that in Crown Heights, in Brooklyn, in New York City, the people ain't as warm pal (is what I thought).

Oh no! That's so sad! I said. In a kind of accidentally feminized voice for some reason.

He drew the blood. I didn't look. I didn't want to tell him that needles make me a little woozy. He was good at making me not feel a thing. Good fingers. Maybe he really was one of the best doctors in all of Cuba. Maybe he really was just aggravated now. Feeling abashed at having to stick people all day.

Here, I need the urine, he said (improper placement of the definite article -- classic Spanish as first language mistake. Endearing in its own way. Humbling. I felt for him).

Just then, a man in a puffy winter jacket, looking and sounding perhaps like he may have some disabilities came screaming into the room. "I love you where are your paperworks." Pushed right past me and gave the Cuban phlebotomist or doctor in training or whatever a hug. Hugged him really hard as the phlebotomist or doctor in training held his hands up over his head confused and handed me the urine cup.

I'll be in there filling this with the urine, I said.

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