Saturday, December 23, 2006

rex's holiday memories: christmas 2006, a heartwarming holiday episode from a medical center waiting room

I like the modern variety of animated children’s movies about as much as I like pina coladas or getting caught in the rain, which is to say that I do not like them in the least. However, I suppose the large flat screen showing the Will-Smith-is-a-fish-and-Robert-DeNiro’s-career-dies-a-little-more movie was a bit more distracting than thumbing through copies of Redbook, In Shape, Better Homes and Gardens or any number of the automotive or non-sports related man-designated magazines provided in the waiting room at the medical clinic. There was only me, an older guy in another corner, and a young Mexican family in the back with children beating the tiled floor with Lincoln Logs.

Anyway, I don’t have to tell you that I was quite starved for entertainment by the time the tall gaunt man wearing a large swishy parka on what was really a quite mild day walked in with a still-smoldering quarter of a cigarette wedged between two stained fingers. He was pale, blonde, unwashed, unshaven, and of a roughly youngish, though indeterminable age. He said:

“Ma’am, I was hoping y’all could help me switch over to a new pain clinic.”

“Sir, you’ll need to put the cigarette out,” the understandably nervous receptionist told him from behind the relatively safety of her window.

“I am SO sorry, ma’am. I coulda swore I put that out,” he said as he pinched the smoldering end of the butt. “Anyway, ma’am, I just moved away from that other pain clinic you sent me to, and there’s another one down the road from my new place, ma’am.”

A ma’am sandwich, I thought, though I kept it to myself. The nearly visible cloud of alcohol fumes radiating from the man told me that he probably wasn’t in much pain at that particular moment.

One of the nurses had taken over from the receptionist at the window. She was explaining to the man everything he needed to do to switch pain clinics. She was doing so very slowly and in simple, well-enunciated words. He was thankful and scribbled down what he could while dispensing “yes, ma’ams” left and right. The smell of alcohol only seemed to get stronger. When they were done he thanked them profusely and left.

Within thirty seconds I heard the unmistakable stumbling swish of him re-entering the room behind me. I was glad, as that Will Smith movie, like most Will Smith movies, really is godawful.

This time he walked past the receptionist window to the phone hanging on the wall beside it. He picked up the receiver, dialed a number, and then leaned the top of his head against the wall in a defeated slouch. What follows is his end of the conversation as near verbatim as I can recall.

“Pick up …come one …Hey, baby, I am SO sorry …I know, I know …I am SO sorry. I just love you so much …Baby, I am sorry about that. It’s all my fault. I just love you so much. I love you and your little black baby …I know. That was all my fault, baby. I just love you so much …I’m coming home now …Huh? …What did they do? ...Did you shoot the other one too? …Okay, baby, I’m coming home …cause I love you so much, baby …All right …I love you too, baby …Need anything from the store? …Okay, I love you, baby, and I’m coming home because I just love you SO much …You want the menthols? …Okay, don’t go nowhere till I get there. I just love you, baby …All right.”

And her little black baby, I thought, though I also kept this to myself as he stumbled from the room for the second and final time during my visit, dropping a couple more “Thank you, ma’ams” at the receptionist window as he passed.
It was a heartwarming Christmas tale, really, and not even the obnoxious hip-hop dancing of animated sharks and guppies could knock the strains of Alabama’s “Christmas in Dixie” from the sound loop in the back of my mind after that.


Anonymous sara sue said...

I think my cockles are warm now. How come you were in the emergency room?

8:13 PM  
Blogger Rex L. Camino said...

It was actually just a walk-in clinic, ss. My regular doctor moved away a few months back and I have yet to find a new one. This particular visit was for some back pain, though it was discovered that I'm also suffering from strep throat.

The gerbil rumors are completely unfounded.

9:30 AM  
Anonymous sara sue said...

LOL too bad "Hairy Pooper & the Gerbil of Doom" was my next post :)

7:29 PM  
Anonymous sara sue said...

Oh...and I hope you're feeling better soon! Strep, yikes!

7:30 PM  

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