The air is thick with the odor of unwashed bodies and the short chubby woman in front of me with greasy tufts for hair is crying to the receptionist, "but I hurt all over and I'm throwing up." Add that scent to this overloaded waiting room. "Lenore," says the nurse, " a lot of people here hurt all over and are throwing up." Lenore waddles back to her chair and all the people who were sitting near her have vacated their chairs and have joined me on the opposite side of the room. She spends the next two hours snoring loudly and when the insurance guy wants a copy of her Medicaid card she tells him her spasms have gone from a half hour to every five minutes and then lapses back into her coma.
There's a woman with a large mole on her cheek dressed in black heels and black hose complaining that she has broken her foot. If that were the situation how she can walk on that appendage in high heels is beyond me. She has a granddaughter, a string-bean teen who has decided to accompany her grandma because she thinks she has strep throat. It is amazing to me how quickly undereducated people jump to the worse conclusion. They are clearly enjoying themselves and they recognize other friends in the waiting room and this is probably the most interesting thing happening to them in weeks. But the mole woman winks at me and says, "I guess I must come here a lot because I know all the staff and don't have to look at their name badges." Um-m-m, oh yeah, back to my book.
The physician-assistant guy keeps his distance from me validating my contagion theory and I leave with computer-generated forms on conjunctivitis, the ever popular pink eye, and I won't need to be around people for a couple of days. At least something worthwhile came from all of this.
* I am allowed to say disparaging things about welfare clients because two of my former jobs as a social worker were with this segment of the population and granted me access to their mind frame. I went into the experience thinking these guys were the misfit toys, misunderstood and treated badly by the middle and upper classes, victims of poverty and abuse. That description covers about half a percent of the welfare class. The rest are losers, lazy and ignorant, slothful, dishonest and the world would be a lovelier place if they would just fall off a cliff. I mean, they come to the emergency room knowing they will be here hours and do not even bring any reading material.