Tuesday, May 10, 2005

ER THE REALITY SHOW - based on a true story

The old man enters the ER through the large double glass door. He has just shuffled past two ambulances or ambuli, I'm not sure of the plural. Both meat wagons are spewing out diesel exhaust into the hospital foyer. The crowd in the waiting room is breathing in the noxious fumes. The elderly gent is being drug into the hospital by an old sour faced woman that we assume is his wife. The old guy is clutching his chest and stomach and is obviously in a lot of pain. His wife ignores his pain and walks up to the desk. Since the hospital is cutting back staff, a temporary worker attempts to help the sick and injured register, but this temporary worker is clueless and doesn't know how to enter data on the hospital's computer. The old fellow collapses into an empty wheelchair. His wife is oblivious to his condition. She fumbles through her purse looking for the insurance cards.

The temp registrar is asking the old lady questions to which the old lady responds, "What'ya say honey? You need my car?. What do you need my car for?"

"No ma'am. I need your card. Your INSURANCE card!", is the reply.

The old lady suddenly realizes that her husband is not standing next to her. She screams at the top of her voice, "Randall! Randall Lee! Where did you run off to!" She fails to see that he is seated in a wheelchair behind her and is still clutching his chest and gut, writhing in pain. She mumbles, "Crazy old man."

The old lady is also unaware of all the sick people around her. Most of them cringe when they hear her once again scream, "Randall Lee! Where are you at!?"

The crowd is a mix of sad, tired people. One guy is holding a wad of paper towels to the large gash in his head. He is dressed in flip flops, a dirty white tee shirt and his boxer shorts. There is a couple of big girls with tattoos on their dirty arms and one has a bunch of roses in blue and red ink poised right above her butt. She proudly displays this by wearing shorts that are two sizes too small. An visibly upset elderly lady is there with her middle aged son. The son is writhing back and forth in a wheelchair. He grabs at imaginary objects on the floor and in the air. He is obviously either drunk or high. His mother holds him back as he tries to do a headfirst lunge out of the chair. A young mother holds her croupy child. The feverish baby barks and whimpers. Another young girl wearing her flannel pajamas clutches her belly and looks like she is about to spew her last meal all over her teenage boyfriend who is squatting directly in front of her and giving us all a view of his hairy hinder.

The whole place reeks of sweaty people and frustration. The actual registrar clocks in to begin her shift. It's 11:30 PM and the place is packed and folks are getting angry.

The old guy with the chest and stomach pains closes his eyes and winces. His wife talks to a total stranger and ignores his problems. She doesn’t hear a word her new found friend says, but nods to her in agreement.

11:45 PM and not a doctor or nurse in sight. Welcome to ER the Reality Show.

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