The nurse muttered vengeful promises under his breath as his fingers punched the keys impatiently. “Network’s slow again,” he observed. “Should be just another moment.” I considered saying something like “Isn’t technology wonderful?”, but decided that would’ve annoyed us both. Instead, I dressed my face in a faint smile so he’d feel acknowledged and breathed deeply, mentally tracing the ceiling’s imperfections. Obsessing over minutiae meant I wasn’t thinking less about the dull ache in my chest.
Christopher’s final keystroke thwacked loudly, and he allowed himself a cursory smirk before aiming his beard towards me.”Thanks for your patience, Mr. Wakefield. So, Cody here will be taking your blood, checking your lungs, all that jazz,” he said, motioning to a tall, beaming man in his mid 20s. Cody wore a tangerine jacket with various medical supplies and instruments bulging neatly in all directions. I placed him as the sort of person who would start his day by chanting inspirational quotes. “Hey, man,” he grinned, offering his hand. “Cody. Great to meet you. I’m training to be a paramedic. You’re my first case this morning. Why don’t you tell me why you’re here today?”
I gulped a sip of water and reiterated the story I’d given to Christopher, as well as to the intake nurse and the registration desk: chest pain that had been steadily escalating, inability to sleep on either of my sides, and a sharp twinge in my lower body whenever I stood. Cody nodded, concentrating as he scribbled, occasionally uttering a “mmmhmm” or ask a follow-up question. “Well, you’re exactly where you ought to be, my friend. We’ll have answers for you soon,” he said when I’d finished. He picked up the needle Christopher had prepared and applied a smattering of alcohol to my wrist. “Christopher’s ordered a number of tests. Have you had blood drawn before?
“Well, I’m thirty-five, so…yes, once or twice,” I replied.
“Oh. Cool. Of course you have.” He sounded embarrassed. “It’s just–that’s a question on the checklist they have us memorize. I don’t want to overlook anything, you know? Last year, I was an assistant manager at Hollister. I like this job better.” He chuckled. My eyes darted around the room while he filled six vials, quietly whispering tips to himself.
Two hours later, Cody assured me that the chest pains were stress-related. “They’ve prescribed extra-strength acetaminophen. If your symptoms worsen or you’re not feeling relief by the weekend, stop back in,” he said, helping me to my feet. “But I hope you go a long time without seeing my mug again!”
“That’s me.” I grimaced slightly as I stood up. Since being discharged from the hospital yesterday, the pain was subsiding, but at a leisurely pace. For a moment, I felt oddly disappointed that they’d finished my car’s routine maintenance inspection so quickly. With its array of fresh baked goods, numerous device-charging stations, and plush oversized seating, this dealership’s service waiting room was more comfortable than my apartment.
“You’re all set!”, the technician said, smiling warmly. She handed me the clipboard containing my visit summary and tapped the back of her pen on the page as she spoke. “As you know, today was your 25,000-mile maintenance service, so we did an oil change, swapped out your filter, rotated the tires, and topped off those fluids for you. Everything looks great, and we’ll see back when you hit 30,000. You’re parked in space 89, right by the door.”
“Thank you, but don’t I have a balance, um…” I squinted at her the patch embroidered on her jumpsuit. “…Cody?”
“You did, but your complimentary maintenance plan covers two years or 25,000 miles; it expired last month. Seemed like a shame to charge you so close to the deadline, so it’s on the house today.” She looked a bit pleased with her Good Deed For The Day. “We work hard, right? Use that cash for a night out or something. Name a mozzarella stick after me.” She meandered back to the garage, her curly jet-black corkscrews quietly bouncing with the rhythm of her step.
“Do you ever meet any other Codys? There was this paramedic yesterday…he’s a Cody too. Really personable, like you. I didn’t think it was an especially common name.”
“Thank you. And it’s not, as far as I know” she said, shaking her head. “I was always the only one in my classes, and I could never find a keychain or a bike license plate or anything with my name on it. Maybe we’re invading!”
That thought echoed as I walked to my car, keys jangling as they swayed back and forth, traversing the same ring over and over.
I turned to the gym, to my umpteenth round of the South Beach diet, to my podcast regimen–staples in my life which were well-charted. A week sailed by. As a Christmas gift to myself, I’d harnessed my most powerful eBay-fu and won a complete set of Poldark novels, the source material for a BBC TV series I’d recently discovered and thoroughly enjoyed. Since the seller lived only half an hour away, we agreed that conducting the trade in person was preferable to shipping a dozen novels; cheaper for me, less time-consuming for him. I scanned the parking lot until I spotted his Honda Accord (2014, Champagne Frost Pearl color).
He appeared to be in his mid-30s and sported lime green Incredible Hulk hospital scrubs. Everything about him from the placement of his glasses to the knots in his shoelaces bellowed fastidious. He popped the Accord’s trunk so I could see the books, nestled snugly in a large box that had once housed a microwave. “You must be Adam,” he said cheerfully, sticking his hand out. “Nice to meet a fellow Poldark fan.”
“Likewise,” I replied. “And you’re Rick, obviously.”
“Oh, no. Rick’s my husband. He’s foraging snacks for the drive home.” He pointed at the 7-Eleven about fifty feet away. “We’ve been errand-hopping since 9 AM. You know how it is. He needed to stretch his legs and he developed a cheese emergency, so I told him I’d wait for you. I’m Cody.”
Of course. Of course he was.
Why wouldn’t he be?
“Yeah, I know what you’re thinking,” Cody continued, misinterpreting my expression. “‘Wasn’t Cody the goofy-but-affable guy on Step by Step with the surfer accent? The one who charged people nine bucks for motorcycle repairs?’ You remember that show? You seem like you’re around my age. The kids at school yelled “Whoa, bummer, dude,” at me for a few years. It was the 90s.” He chortled lightly. “Anyway, you didn’t sign up for my backstory–you’ve got some great-quality novels to plow through! Let me grab this box for you. Which car–“
“Seriously, probability isn’t my forte, but…how? How can YOU be Cody too?”, I interrupted. My head felt like it was slowly vitrifying.
“You’d have to ask my mom!”, he sniggered.
“The service tech was Cody, and the paramedic was Cody, and you’re all thoughtful, and–” I trailed off, vaguely aware I was riding the train to Rambletown. And tomorrow I’ll probably hop on a bus and discover that the driver’s name is Cody and half the passengers are named Cody, and everyone will be a Peace Corps volunteer when they’re not saving the rainforest or something, and what in the name of Lucky the Lucky Charms leprechaun is happening?
I swallowed. There was nothing but the faint sound of wind licking the trash from 7-Eleven’s teeming garbage can.
Then Cody laughed, a quick genial burst. “Universe has a sense of humor some days, hmm?”
I fumbled with my wallet and paid him. Rick sauntered over to the car, carrying Ritz Bits and four individually-wrapped string cheese packs. He waved his hellos as Cody introduced me, then stepped into the Accord. “A pleasure, Adam. You take care,” Cody said through his open window as Rick maneuvered their car out of the parking spot.
Perhaps I should’ve driven home in a vehicle a Cody repaired and started the first Poldark novel I’d purchased from a Cody, able to sit comfortably because a Cody had eased my health concerns.
Instead, I just leaned on the rear bumper for a while, trying to decide how strongly I believed in coincidence and thinking about the quality of all the Codys.
Last month, I met several people named Cody within the same week. After I tweeted about it, @Thalandor46 noted that “every Cody I have ever personally met has been a quality people.”