From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rev. Random the Other)
I went to visit a friend at the R----- General Hospital in the small
North Carolina town of the same name, and I still cannot get over the
differences between small town life and the Chicago that is my Home
Town. The R----- General is clean, recently built, and well regarded
by the locals. There is no medical staff, as such - doctors from the
surrounding regions rotate into the Hospital in four or five hour
shifts, once or twice a week. There is also no security whatsoever.
I noticed this right away when I entered, finding that the small lobby
check-in desk was unattended. I decided to explore. To my suprise, I
had total access to every room - occupied or not; I decided not to take
advantage of the sedated or the restrained. The drug cabinets were
well stocked. Yes indeed. Not once was I stopped or questioned. I
thought that perhaps this was due to the fact that I had dressed
in white that day, motivated I suspect by the subconscious association
of that color with hospitals. It could also have been my composure, t
he badge that says "I am IN CHARGE." As I later discovered, I wasn't
questioned simply because small town values do not allow for suspicion
in a place whose sole purpose is to help, to heal. A valued addition
to the community, the Hospital opens it doors to the elderly who walk
its air-conditioned halls as if it were an aerobics track. Every
morning, every afternoon, people in jogging shorts and tennis shoes
meet their friends for a customary lap or two around the ward.
Still amazed at the fruits of my visit, now stashed securely in the
car, I again sought my friend by means of the reception desk schedule
listing. I walked behind the desk and was reading the clipboard when
the phone rang.
I answered on the third ring. The calling party wanted to know if a Mr
Wilson was at the hospital. I looked at the schedule, answered "Yes,
Mr Wilson is seeing Dr Gregson in radiology. Shall I page him?" "No,"
came the response. "I just wanted to know if I should pick him up
at 3:00." As his appointment was for 2:00, I answered "Yes, he
should be ready then."
I was replacing the receiver, still holding the clipboard when four
elderly visitors, apparently here for the first time, came into the
lobby. They were talking together, taking note of the delicious aroma
that wafted outside, filling the lobby as well. One said "Oh, and
they must have a cafeteria here, too." Another said " It smells
like they're serving chicken today." The group approached me, and
the third visitor asked me "Do you have a cafeteria here?"
I put on my prettiest smile, looked her straight in the eye and said,
"No, ma'am, we don't have a cafeteria here. It's Wednesday. They
incinerate the fetuses on Wednesday."
All four left without the benefit of a walk around. One was shaking,
another seemed to be crying, consoled by the other two. My friend
appeared a few minutes later, and seeing me behind the desk, exclaimed
"Really, they shouldn't even let you out in public." Another
appointment was set for next week.
I offered to drive.