Wake up momma, turn your lamp down low…
What a night. I was in Macon, Georgia attending a Newspaper Columnist Conference when my friend Joanie fell. She had been dancing to the sound of … who else but the Allman Bros Band. I drove her to the ER where we spent the equivalent of several lifetimes.
The reception nurse glanced at the papers Joanie had filled out while in horrible pain, but that “Black Hearted Woman” was too busy arguing with a chicken wing delivery guy about the price he charged to pay Joanie much attention.
While she writhed in pain, I morphed my Nancy Grace mode. "Enough with the chicken, Nurse Wretched,” I barked. “Can’t you see this woman is in pain? You get her some help right now or I’m calling 911."
Ten minutes later after threatening the entire hospital staff with Obamacare, Joanie was wheeled into what they actually called the fast lane. Seriously. Three hours later, a sleepy intern proclaimed that Joanie’s wrist was broken. “Unfortunately,” he added, “there will not be an orthopod available until Tuesday.” Unfortunately? Joanie lives in Illinois and had been planning to travel on to Fairhope, Alabama after the conference for a few days of R&R.
“Nuh uh,” said the ER vampires. “She absolutely must have her wrist set no later than Tuesday.” While Joanie and I were trying to figure out what kind of drugs the intern was on, he presented her with a sling and a prescription for dope. I was dismissed and told to go to the waiting room until someone could dismiss Joanie.
Meanwhile back in the ER waiting room where Chicken Little and the delivery boy were still arguing, three policemen hauled in two barefoot prisoners in dire need of treatment for something. I have no idea what. The prisoners were not overjoyed and I was not thrilled to see them either.
Soon after that, a middle-aged man, a throwback to the Sixties, rushed in with a catfish fang stuck in his right hand. He was bleeding all over the floor but they wheeled him to the other side, not the fast lane. Go figure.
Just when I thought I had seen more ER drama than I ever wanted to see, a morbidly obese woman with splotchy purple legs the size of a barker lounger waddled in. Her hips looke like huge scallops and when she sat down her behind hung over the sides of two chairs. No fast lane for her, either.
When my friend Joanie was finally paroled from the treatment room, she was clutching a prescription for pain meds and honestly? She looked like she had aged twenty years since she danced like nobody was watching to the Allman Brothers, “Southbound.”
She looked up at me from the wheelchair and said, “I want to be Northbound, like ASAP.”
The hospital’s pharmacy was closed, of course, so we drove around Macon in search of a Walgreen's. The search was made more difficult because the Macon police had set up roadblocks throughout the city. I figured they were looking for the gang going around inserting catfish fangs into over-the-hill hippies.
It was July and my friend Joanie and I felt like strangers set adrift in Macon, Georgia, the hottest little town on the planet.
By and by, Joanie couldn’t find her reading glasses and suggested that she had left them at the hospital, so after an hour or so of looking and finally finding a Walgreen's, we returned to the ER to look for her glasses. That hospital was batting a thousand. No Joanie’s glasses, no orthopod, no pharmacy and probably no chicken wings for Nurse Wretched.
What the hospital did have plenty of when we arrived was an driveway stacked with four ambulances, two of which sailed past my car. The catfish gang was super busy that night.
Finally back at the hotel, I searched around my car for Joanie’s lost glasses since she can't see squat without them. Then she about scared me to death when she let out a shout that sounded profane. I thought she had fallen again. Nope. She had simply discovered that her glasses were hanging around her neck on one of those old lady chains.
I parked my car and when I got out, the hotel sprinklers popped up to baptize me. I didn’t move. I just stood still and let the water drench my clothes and cool my heels. On a Saturday night in Macon when the temperature is a thousand degrees, what else does one do?