Friday, January 25, 2013

COLUMN: Emergency Room

I try to be, for the most part, by and large, a nice guy. As it turns out, this is not a recommended move.

I've never heard a girl go, "Wow, you're such a nice guy. Please allow me to bear your children." Not once has anyone said to me, "Hey, Shane, you're such a nice guy. Here's a million dollars." Whitey's has yet to invent an ice cream that says "calorie free if you're a nice guy." Nice guys get no love. Nice guys can, however, get into a whole mess of trouble. Trust me on this one.

On most weekend nights, you can find me in a dance club, manning the DJ booth until the wee hours. The other day, it was 2:30 in the morning and I was on my way home. Still riding the high from a great night behind the decks, I decided to reward myself with a late night donut stop. It was there I found myself, precariously balancing a handful of glazed goodness, when my phone started ringing.

2:30 a.m. phone calls are never good news. But when that call was coming from my recent ex-girlfriend, I knew it had to be something big. Amy's a big fan of yoga, and even teaches it nowadays. I've always told her that some of those yoga positions looked inhuman and dangerous to me, but it's hard to be taken seriously when you're giving exercise advice while laying on the couch drinking Coke. Well, it turns out I might have been right all along.

After an evening yoga class, Amy went to bed and woke up with crippling pain in her hip. Since I was the only number on her speed dial most likely to still be awake at 2:30 a.m., she called to see if I could take her to the emergency room.

Some people might have issues rushing to the beckon call of their ex. For me, it was a no-brainer. Like I said, I try to be a nice guy. Honestly, if Satan himself showed up at my door asking to borrow a cup of sugar, I'd probably give him the whole bag AND my mom's secret recipe for toffee cookies.

True story: Once a repairman showed up at my house to fix my TV. Upon seeing my music collection, he remarked about a few rare pieces that I owned. Without hesitating, I quickly [ENSURED THAT HE HAD PURCHASED SAID RARITY HIMSELF] and [MADE HIM A LEGAL BACKUP COPY OF SAID RARITY FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY.]

Amy might be my ex, but she's no Satan and she's a lot cuter than your average TV repairman. So I dropped everything I was doing, raced over there, left my prize donuts on her counter, and took her to the ER. And it's a good thing I'm a nice guy, too -- otherwise, I'd tell you all how her bum hip made her walk like an escapee from the "Thriller" video.

When we got to the ER, it was completely empty. "Whew," I thought, "this should take no time." 'No time,' in case you were wondering, is just over three hours long. While Amy was poked, prodded, and x-rayed aplenty, I was left in the World's Most Boring Waiting Room, where the only entertainment was a microscopic TV airing a marathon of whatever the show is that features fabulously wealthy people getting married in fabulously wealthy ways. Joy.

THEN the doors opened and it got interesting. In walked an ambulance driver and her fare for the evening -- a gentleman who was admitting himself voluntarily for some kind of psych evaluation. And they had just shown up at the WRONG hospital.

I'm a nice guy -- which means I have to make an important disclaimer here. I know that mental illness is no laughing matter. I have friends who have been touched by mental illness, family who've been touched by mental illness, and if you've ever seen me around the presence of a bee, you'll know that I've got my own set of issues. An estimated 1 in 4 adults suffer from some form of mental disease, and they deserve our love, patience, and support. Unless I think they're going to eat my face off.

While the we-came-to-the-wrong-hospital dilemma was resolving in a bureaucratic braintrust of nurses and phone calls, no one paid attention to the patient. Imagine if you will a large and empty waiting room... and this poor fellow chose the seat directly across from me -- all the while staring me down, scowling, rocking, mean-mugging, and generally looking like the only thing he wanted to do voluntarily was attack me with malice and extreme prejudice.

What does one do in a scenario like this? I didn't want to stand up and move -- that would be a jerk thing to do and might incite the guy. I couldn't draw the attention of the nurses no matter how hard I tried. "It's okay," I kept telling myself, "If you have to be attacked, it might as well be IN an emergency room." There was only one choice. For upwards of 20 minutes while this guy was inches away literally growling at me, I watched that TV show. I watched the heck out of it. I saw what a $14,000 floral arrangement looked like. I saw wedding dresses that cost more than my annual income. My eyes NEVER left the screen. I'm not even sure if I blinked. Outside? Nice Guy Shane. Inside? Sheer terror, surviving only by repeating my mantra, "Donuts.. donuts.. donuts."

Eventually, they sorted out the bureaucracy and my new friend was begrudgingly led away. The desk nurse turned to me and said, "Oh wow, that might have been dangerous there." Outside, Nice Guy Shane said: "Heh heh. Perhaps, yes." Inside Shane, meanwhile, was screaming. "YEAH, CAPTAIN OBVIOUS? DO YA THINK? GRAB THE DEFRIBILLATORS, I'M PRETTY SURE I NEED 'EM!"

Finally Amy came out. Diagnosis: Torn muscle. I told her she needed to ease up on the Downward Dogs. I raced her home while visions of donuts danced in my head. Got her inside, turned to the counter... and discovered that her roommate had woken up in the middle of the night and ate all of them. ARRRRRRGH!

It's okay, though, because I'm a nice guy. I sincerely hope that Amy's hip gets better. I sincerely hope that my troubled growling friend gets the help he needs. And I sincerely hope that somebody brings me a #@^$&*% donut.

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