Sunday, April 02, 2006


Day 2:

The hospital is a big place. People are constantly coming and going. Some are there visiting sick relatives, others arriving for and leaving from doctors appointments, emergency room visits, trips to the pharmacy, and a whole range of other locales around the building. Their paths known only to themselves, each individual navigates the maze of corridors and elevator shafts on courses almost ant trail-like in nature, weaving routes to and from destinations unknown.

On a normal weekday, it is often difficult to even walk through some of the ground floor hallways because of the bustle of human beings there, some of whom move at a decidedly slower clip than most of us. But spending an entire Sunday in the hospital, the pace of things seemed, if not slower than normal, at least less "dense." People were not as easily lost in the crowd - faces (and the stories that went along with them) stood out to me.

One such example: the forty-something year old African American woman who rushed into the emergency room, hair frazzled into a sort of formless afro. She was wearing a gold-colored outfit, complete with matching flip-flops, and worry on her face. She asked about her daughter, and a nurse directed her to the sixth floor. Two hours later, while I stood in line for lunch at the cafeteria, this same woman caught my eye again, this time standing just a few feet to the side of the cash register. While my eyes were inexorably drawn towards her unique footwear, I couldn't help but overhear a bit of the conversation she was having on her cell phone. "Are you sitting down?" She repeated the question for the third time. "Okay. You sure? Well... Myra's losing her baby. Yeah, her baby. No, they don't know why. No, they can't do nothing for her..." The cashier called my order, and I lost track of this nameless woman and her family's story forever.

Holding my lunch in its tidy white Styrofoam container, I made my way to one of the elevators (on my own ant trail-like path) and found myself surprised to be the only one going up. I only managed one floor, however, before the lift (don't I sound British?) stopped and a Caucasian woman, maybe thirty or so and fairly pretty, got on and asked me to press the button for the 1st floor. She had shoulder-length brown hair, was wearing a black t-shirt and khakis, and obviously was lost, as we were already on the first floor. I asked if she meant the ground floor, she said "Yes, thank you," and I pressed the button for her before exiting on the 4th.

I hurriedly ate my lunch and rushed back to the E.R. to do another admission. On my way there, I found myself wandering through one of the medicine wards, where I was greeted with a warm, toothless smile and a "Howdy there!" from a gray-haired peach of a little old lady; she was one of the patients we had rounded on earlier in the day and was being ushered somewhere in her wheelchair. I returned the smile and added a slight head nod in her direction for added effect. Each of us continued on our separate ways.

Some time later, while sitting at a desk near the back of the E.R. writing a history and physical, a side door I hadn't even noticed beforehand opened and five security officers came walking through, each with a hand clasped tightly to an apparently newly apprehended criminal. Before I could even begin to feel surprised, they had disappeared around the corner, dragging along the pretty woman from the elevator, hands now locked firmly in handcuffs behind her back.

Lesson learned: you'd be surprised how interesting things can get when you pay even the slightest bit of attention.


At 10:22 PM, Blogger Danielle said...

Damn, Lucas. You are totally going to take my claim to fame. This writting is awesome. I knew you had it in you..I KNEW your hospital stories would be good. They are even better because I can picture it so easily--because I have been there. The still Sunday mornings with no one on "the lift," the newley apprehended criminal. Ah, yes. You describe it well.

Can't wait for the next installment!


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