What’s the worst thing about being rushed into the Emergency Department by your sisters, and staying in a hospital for several days? Fear of Death? No. The pain of the needles stuck in your arms? No. Seeing your family cry? No. Eating the ridiculously bland hospital food? No.
The worst thing about this horrible situation is knowing that you are going to be placed on a bed (trolley in my case) beside an annoying man, who desperately wants to tell you all about his many illnesses…. In great detail. Jesus Christ… just wheel me into a big bin and leave me there.
Luckily, I have developed an amazing ability to avoid such a situation. I smile (to show I’m polite) then quickly take my phone out, dial about 16 digits with the volume turned up, then start speaking Spanish down the phone. Normally, the old person that wants to talk to me, avoids me because they think I’m foreign. Works like a charm on trains. Sadly, I didn’t realize that the man next to me was the Bruce Lee of bullshit conversation.
Old Man - French?
Me – Sorry…?
Old Man - French, are you?
Me – No.
Old Man – Oh. Where are you from then?
Me – I’m from here.
Why hasn’t he noticed that I have headphones in? He probably doesn’t know what headphones are, bless him. He probably thinks it’s a hearing aid.
Old Man – I tell you, you’re lucky to get a bed. There’s people out there on trolleys. It’s disgraceful. What has this country come to? You pay your tax and you follow the rules and then you get dumped on a corridor like a rat. It’s awful. I tell you, this government……………………………………………….
I completely stop listening yet politely nod my head to his never-ending rant which sounds a little bit like the “Letters to the Editor” section in The Sun.
Old Man – …………………… isn’t that right?
Me – Oh, God, yeah. Tell me about it.
Old Man – The man that was in that bed before you, died.
Me – Yeah. God, it’s awful.
Old Man - Lovely fella, but he snored. A lot.
Me – Oh, dear.
Old Man – When did you come in?
Me – I came in a few days ago, I was in A&E earlier.
Old Man – And how long are you here for?
What an unbelievably stupid question. He obviously seems to think you check in and out like a hotel.
Me – Not long, I hope.
Old Man – I’m here a week. I came in with a pain… a sharp pain in my lower leg. It was actually more in my ankle than in my lower leg and it moved up and down. It was around 10.00 in the morning and I always have the radio on……………………….
This is going to be a very long evening…. I think to myself. If I can’t be a bit rude this time, when can I be rude? I slowly start to shut my eyes to show that I’m not listening and want to be left alone.
Old Man – Well, I’ll let you get some sleep. You must be wrecked, so you are.
An hour later.
A nurse comes in to take my blood and blood pressure. She has an Irish accent but looks Asian. There is also a woman (who is black) making tea on a trolley and serving both of us.
Old Man – Jesus, it’s like the united colors of benetton in here.
… And activate Old Man Racism. Dear Lord… I hope he doesn’t start on the gay marriage referendum…. otherwise, I’ll have to stab him with one of these needles coming out of my arms…..
Old Man – I put 50p in the tele on the wall, there, and it lasts all night.
He doesn’t realize we’ve converted to the Euro currency 14 years ago.
Me – Oh, right. Work away. I have my computer, so you can watch whatever you want.
Old Man - There was a film on there yesterday. The Black Hawk… Jesus, it was fantastic. It was about these soldiers in Africa and they’re trying to kill the president…..
Please see the plot summary for Ridley Scott’s, Black Hawk Down… for the next 10 minutes of conversation.
Old Man - And what are you in here for?
Me – What?
Old Man - Are you very sick?
Me – It’s a mix of things. It’s complicated.
Is that an acceptable question to ask someone? I don’t think so.
Old Man - Oh, sorry. I won’t ask any further. None of my business anyway.
Me – I hope everything is OK with you.
Old Man - Oh, I’ve seen better days. But I should be out soon.
Nurse - You will indeed. Not long now and you’ll be back in your own house
Me (to the nurse)- Do you know if there’s WiFi here?
Nurse – Oh, God. I’ve no idea. But I think there’s some ham in the fridge. Sure, I’ll ask one of the girls to make you a sandwich.
Old Man – There’s lovely ham here. But the bread is not great.
Nurse (taking my blood)- Now Shane, you’re just going to feel a little prick for a second.
Me – Reminds of an disappointing experience I had with a Brazilian recently at Gay Pride.
Nurse – Oh, lovely.
She doesn’t get it…….. Probably for the best.