Old acquaintances

There is something ominous about seeing people you went to high school, or even middle school with at your job in such high frequency. It’s an emergency department, I’m not exactly expecting people in their 20’s to loiter around here like teenagers in a Wawa parking lot. At least I hadn’t always expected that, I’m just an ED tech though, what do I know?

Thing is, the chief complaints aren’t even uniform: STD testing here, sickle cell crisis there, motor vehicle accidents, assaults, plenty of pregnancy complications and even a brain tumor (I know right, wtf). One guy from middle school escorted by police… wasn’t surprised.

The gentleman in question had once whooped my ass at one of those little traveling carnivals that went from playground to playground around Frankford before the pre-teens had guns and shit. I got busted making out with his sister (fact: the finest girl in 8th grade), in front of the funnel cake stand. He was a few years older and knew what I, and every other pubescent boy in the neighborhood wanted from his sister. That was the first time my nose was broken.

Whatever though, she wasn’t my true love, there was yet another. A lanky, nerdy as hell Puerto Rican girl with big full lips and light brown hair. She had hazel eyes that nearly met mine, since she was 5’8″. I did everything I could to position myself in her good graces; or her bedroom, whichever came first, but she wasn’t having it. At the time my efforts included: awkward staring, talking about things she liked but I didn’t, trying to make her laugh and of course attempts at displaying hyper-masculinity (a crowd favorite around the way). Not surprised at how little of that has changed.

Home girl though, my true love, my one and only, my sugar fly honey bunch definitely popped up in the trauma bay the other day though, damn near 15 years later.

I recognized her immediately, but more surprisingly she recognized me. The cuts on her face, the disheveled hair, the smeared mascara covering the bags under her eyes, had done nothing to diminish the fact that she was still just so beautiful. And with child! She was super pregnant too, as in she could have easily been at the hospital to deliver the baby. Her uncle was sitting next to her on a chair and gave a slight smile when I approached the middle of three stretchers in the bright trauma bay.

“Hey Joseph, how have you been? I didn’t know you worked here.” she said with the cutest little smile. Everyone always says “how have you been?” for every conceivable situation

“No, how have you been girl? You’re the one in the hospital right now, what happened?”

“You were never very perceptive, but I think you can figure this one out.” She looked up at me without moving her head, bearing a smirk that made us both chuckle a little.

She had already been worked up and was fine medically, just cuts and scrapes. She still needed to go to labor and delivery though and have a more thorough exam for the baby. I came back to her bed with a wheelchair to take her over. Her uncle had gone by now. I rolled her down an empty hallway, in a busted wheelchair with one arm rest.

“First one?” I ask.

“Nope, I have an older one at home, what about you?”

“Two of them, a boy and a girl, one starting kindergarten soon.”

“Are you still with their mom?” she asked, turning her head slightly behind her and upwards.

“No, haven’t been for a while, what about you?”

“My boyfriend is at home now, different dads.” At this, she sort of tires of the conversation.

That or the car accident, the poverty, the excessive working, the pregnancy, the men, the judgement or barrage of constant strife that accentuates her existence had moved to the front of her mind. We continued in silence. I swiped my I.D. badge to open the sliding glass doors to labor and delivery, she was checked in and I helped her get up to her bed without saying anything.

“Thank you Joseph, see you later.” she said.

“Anytime, good luck.”

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