A Comedy of Errors

I often feel like I am in the Twilight Zone the three times a week I am required to navigate the UNC Hospital’s parking deck. I’ve never seen such a variety of driving skills on such prominent display.

However, yesterday’s events felt like something straight out of an episode of Seinfeld. Only, there was nothing all that funny. No Kramer in too-tight pants. No soup for me.

I had two errands to do after speech. One was to go to Target to buy something delicious to make for tonight’s cookout with friends. The other was to drop off some long-overdue dry cleaning.

Now, when I say these clothes were long over-due, I mean the pile included a suit I wore to a work conference.

In February.

But anyway. Pretty simple, right?

I walked in with my embarrassingly huge pile and plopped it on the counter. Dry Cleaning Lady, who shall be henceforth known as DCL, asked for my number. I couldn’t remember if the account was under my number or Paul’s….because, you know, it had been so long.

I painstakingly gave her my number. Now, my number can be rather hard for me, because saying “zero” can be tricky at times. And, I have the good luck of having two zeroes in my number back to back.

The account didn’t show up under my number. Fine. I told her to check under Paul’s number. I gave it to her, to which DCL replied, “Wait, the same area code?” Sigh. Yes. Repeat area code and phone number.

“I still don’t see it,” DCL said. Odd. Husband has definitely been here more frequently than me (usually because he’s taking it for me). “Can I check under your last name?” She asked.

Yes, yes, please do. And get me out of here! People with speech disorders like nothing more than to be put on the spot.


“Is your first name Jennifer?” DCL asked. I replied it was, and though I found it odd because I NEVER go by my full name, I was just grateful to get this over with. DCL begins to tag my clothes and printing up tickets….that I then noticed were printing up the wrong name.

No! How can this be? What kind of hellish dimension of apraxia IS this?

I emphatically told her that was NOT my name and promptly wrote down my name and Paul’s number – because I was tired of this. And, wouldn’t you know, she found me. The real me. Finally.

So, some lessons learned. I suspect my apraxia combined with DCL’s lack of English as a first language played a strong factor here. But, the frustrating thing is that I CAN spell my name and the correct phone number if:

1) People wait for me to finish (ah ha!) and actually listen

2) People just ask me if they don’t understand I’ve said or need me to repeat

However, the world don’t work like that sometimes. When you’re used to not having to pay such close attention before you listen or reply, suddenly having to do so can be difficult. I certainly don’t fault people for this. On the other hand, I wish people who don’t understand what I’ve said would just tell me so. I am happy to slow down and try it again.

In an ideal world, DCL would have said something like, “I know you said that your husband has an account here, but the number you gave me isn’t coming up. Can you repeat it one more time?” Or, “Could you please spell your last name?” Instead of assuming she had it right – though how funny is it that the person had the same first name as me? That’s what I get for having a common first name.

Having to repeat, even if it’s hard – well, I much prefer that to pretending that you’ve heard me and then going around in circles.

At any rate, the clothes have been successfully dropped off. Whew. To my disappointment, neither Seinfeld nor Kramer popped out from behind the racks.

I can say, though, that there should be a silver lining here. Getting back to the mundane tasks like this that we ALL have to do, is a positive. All I have wanted since the accident is to get back to “normal.”

What normal means, I’m not sure at this point. But this must surely be included.


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