Nondescript woman on the phone behind the front desk in the ER: "Hello, this is Shelley, I did not know that I was scheduled to work tonight, therefore I didn't come in but I'm here now. I didn't make it til the end of the shift that I didn't know I had and they told me to just go home. Please call me and let me know if I'm still employed." Slam. Stomp off and out the automatic doors in a huff. Quite a show for the huddled groups of sick, injured, or faking-it patrons. And oh so very professional.
When did the ER turn into Super America? I wonder to myself.
Middle-aged husband injured playing a child's game. I don't blame him a bit. Sometimes you've got to push back against time.
"You look familiar, have we met?" says the orderly wheeling he and his very swollen foot into a holding area.
"Nah," my husband says.
I peek behind the curtain to assess our surroundings.
A baby is crying inconsolably behind the curtain in the next cubicle. Screeching. Sobbing. My nipples tighten.
Can you spontaneously lactate after a decade of inactivity? Is anyone with that baby? He/she can't stop crying.
Somebody do something.
"Someone save the baby," sings a very heavy ER worker walking down the hallway with a white styrofoam cup in her hand.
She's walking away from the baby's cubicle.
We sit and wait. And wait. A physician that oddly resembles the guitarist from Soul Asylum steps in, looks at my spouse's swollen block of a foot, and says, "We'll need an x-ray."
The baby's still crying. A doctor or nurse or employee in hospital scrubs, is talking loudly and condescendingly to a short silent man with copper bronze hair who's standing in the hallway trying to read the eye chart. "Can you read any of these letters?" shouts the employee to the paying customer. Maybe the silent man is mute. He shakes his head, and gestures wildly towards his eyes shaking his head and pleading. "You're a diabetic," the examiner discovers glancing at a chart, "when did you last have insulin?"
The baby ramps up into blood curdling shrieks. All this time, I've not heard a comforting adult voice behind that curtain. I envision a baby alone strapped into its car seat bucket, I want to do something.
Twenty minutes pass, a pretty woman with royal blue hair extensions wheels my husband in to X-ray.
Moaning, groaning, pure sounds of agony emitting from a suffering young woman who's hunched over, no doubled over. Breathless gasps, tears, breathing, ouch, oh, ouch, ohhhhhhh. I think she o.d.ed though I have no reason to assume this except that she looks like the girl I went to middle school with who o.d.ed on speed in the girls bathroom during the seventh grade dance.
She disappears behind the cloth wall sanctioning the next waiting station. "Someone please help me," she whimpers.
"I'm from Triage," says a woman in street clothes to another woman in hospital garb, "she has a long family history of severe hypochondria." The baby is till wailing on the other side and I'm starting to become de-sensitized to his/her pleas.