It’s a beautiful fall day. Crisp, clear, bright – I’m wearing my favorite comfy sweater. It’s the kind of day I wait all year for. I breathe the deep, sun-warmed air in my car as traffic slows during the commute. No worries, I left myself plenty of time.
The building is on a beautiful, tree-lined street filled with medical offices. It’s early, there are few cars in the parking lot. I decide to wait a few minutes before going in, but I see an armed security guard enter the building. Even understanding why he’s there, it unnerves me.
The last time I visited a Planned Parenthood was in the liberal enclave of Northern California. I’m far from there now.
The guard holds the door for me when I enter and I try to advance through the metal detector. It buzzes and I step back. He wants my I.D. and appointment time, both of which he checks against a sheet in his hand. He also wants to search my purse. “Is that a knife?” he asks. I hold up the miniature Swiss Army attached to my keychain. “Sort… of?” I reply. He grimaces and lets it slide.
I step through again. The portal buzzes again. We can’t figure out what’s setting it off. “Maybe my nose ring?” I offer, half joking. “Maybe,” he says, not joking at all.
He hands me my purse and tells me to sign in at the counter.
After, I sit in the clean, bright waiting area and watch the front office staff go about their business. They’re training someone new. She listens and watches earnestly. Medical staff come in. They greet the guard by name and don’t pass through metal detector.
There are young women in the waiting area. One looks younger than my daughter and is there with her mother. There are two young men. More back office staff move through.
I wonder, as I listen to local news talk about robberies and car accidents, what it’s like to come to work everyday and stare at a uniformed, armed man standing between you and the constant threat of irrational violence. How it must be to dedicate your career to healing people and show up to work every day wondering when when your building will be blown up.
I’ve received services from 5 different Planned Parenthoods in 4 different states. I’ve always been treated with respect and given exceptional care. I stand with Planned Parenthood.