Monday, March 8, 2010


“Okay Mr. Waters, if someone calls for you can I tell them know you’re here?”

That’s how it begins. It’s officially now an emergency. Not only because I'm in the Emergency Room, not because my left ankle has swollen to a formidable kankle, but because there's a strong possibility I will be here for at least 3 hours. Okay now thinking back to the clerks question: “Okay Mr. Waters, if someone calls for you can I tell them know you’re here?” You may, but not to inform them that I am hurt, but that I will be missing dinner.

I signed in, they slapped a plastic bracelet on my arm; credited with, not one, but two United States patents, likely for the unique form of plastic found exclusively in hospitals, perhaps the tricky little clasp. Now I sit. In a room that grows exponentially less comfortable the more people that fill it. Each with their own problem, their own illness, their own emergency. Each seemingly more sick than the last. All of them are excited to see a new face in the crowd. Most of them clearly old enough to get matinee prices all day at the theatre; their blank faces almost seem to say, “but he's so young?” It’s the kind of place that as soon as you sit down, you want to leave. It’s humid, with a thick cloud of unease cast over it. It smells as if they’ve only attempted to mask the sweaty, musky aroma with disinfectant. It’s similarly ineffective to spraying cologne in place of a shower, after you’ve had a day of intense physical labor. Surveying the room, I realize that the political argument on the T.V. in the background, almost narrates the scene. A heated discussion concerning the current heath care reform, specifically, where and how the money will be spent. I realize that I'm looking at it. I’m staring into the faces representing the entire issue. Sitting in the room long enough to hear mention of a leaking penis and multiple cases of overly-loose stool, I begin to wonder if a sprained ankle is going to cut it, or, at some point, will a nurse come and just tell me to go suck it up.

People come, people go. Each a new walking target for my amateur medical speculation. I don't care to write about what happens after they call your name, because contrary to my arrogant belief; doctors and nurses are actually very good at their jobs. I will, however, tell you how you leave: the same way you came in, through the same sickly humid staging area. Everyone get their moment here, for as you walk back through the door, you are an object of envy from for all those who have just arrived. Appearing cured, you attract a special look from there waiting eyes. After your brief observation, your gone, just like that, emergency over.

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