Sunday, September 2, 2007

At a complete loss to do anything.

I had hoped to have returned to my blog this month with a light-hearted post about my past, my family, or something about the world in general. But I found that after observing something at work I really need to unload my feelings at the situation that I witnessed one afternoon a few days ago. Right off the bat I have to state that I am in no way proclaiming how great my compassion for my fellow man is or how empathic I am to the feelings of others. If anything this is a declaration of my cowardice in the face of the strange combination of the social laissez-faire/screaming big nanny rules that have developed these last few decades.

The temperature last month, you might be able to guess, had been on a consistent high broil setting with high humidity but without any of the afternoon thundershowers that can offer at least a short reprieve from the heat. But working inside a very climate controlled environment such as a hospital does offer the benefit of a cool shelter away from such weather extremes when many others are forced to work outside. The only drawback to such an advantage is that when you are real busy working inside without any window to the outside available you can become disconnected to the daily events going on in the larger world. Several times I have gone to work on a bright sunny morning only to leave work that afternoon in the pouring rain, and of course the reverse is true. In the scope of things not being able to observe the changes in the weather during the day is very small potatoes but never the less when there is a moment I can step away I do like to walk outside and get a breath of fresh air.

The last few days of August were just as busy as the beginning of the month but much to my surprise I found myself caught up to a great degree on Wednesday and as my co-workers and I rode the elevator down from surgery I broke away from them at the first floor and walked toward the main entrance to get some idea of what was going on outside. The main lobby is a huge sunroom with many chairs and benches available for people as they await admittance, or discharge for friends, family or themselves in the course of a normal day. I found a somewhat isolated section close to the foyer leading outside to the drop off point to look outside and collect my thoughts. The foyer has both an outer and inner sliding glass door to lessen the escape of cooler air from the inside and the invasion of hot air from the outside. On either side are benches people use when mainly waiting for someone to drive to the pick up/drop off point right outside. This area is extremely busy from early in the morning to late at night and hospital security enforces the time limit on cars being parked there very hard. Adding to the chaos that usual exists at that location of the two lanes available for cars to stop and either pick up or drop people off one was blocked by a broken down car. It was then that coming from the far lane I noticed a woman and a small boy who if I was forced to guess would be about eight of nine years old slowly making their way across the inside lane to the foyer. I’m guessing here but I’ll go ahead and state that I believe the woman was the mother of the little boy who it would be certain from the limping walk and the expression on his face was both in pain and scared as they entered the foyer. Adding to my instant assumption that he was about to be admitted was the fact that mom was pulling a small rolling suitcase. A large group of people exited the hospital through the foyer at that time leaving the inner door open long enough for me to hear the boy ask the lady not to leave him as the distraught lady told him to sit on the bench as she went and parked the car. I’ve seen fear many times in both myself and others and that little boy blazed it with the look he gave the lady leaving him at that moment. Both the closing of the inner door and a louder collection of people in the area prevented me from hearing her words before she turned, exited the outer door and ran across the blocked lane to her car and drove off to park. I watched the boy sitting there watching the car pull quickly out and make its way to the almost full parking lot in front of the hospital. I was greatly concerned for the boy’s well being at that moment but it was more instinct than compassion that had me exit through the foyer and walk outside myself. The car carrying his mom had slipped out of sight for a couple of seconds and the boy’s attention had drifted away to the people walking by him through the foyer. The look of loneliness on his face chilled me to the bone as I watched from outside. I don’t know if my concern came from my realization that I probably expressed a very similar feeling many times as my both my mom and dad made complete asses of themselves before I finally ended up permanently with my grandparents (very long story that I will never post) or that the well being children is something I just put to the forefront of my thoughts and most of the time my actions. As I both watched him and for his mom to come running back to the main entrance I weighed any actions I might be able to take and in this situation to offer some comfort to that scared boy, I saw none.

Working at a hospital you quickly become familiar with privacy rules and how badly you can get in trouble if they are violated. I am in no way an authority on the rules and regulations governing how hospital employees have to conduct themselves around hospital patience’s but from what I do understand they are Draconian in many respects. One seminar went as far as to tell us that even if we are friends with a patience someone could get in trouble just asking them the reason they were in the hospital. The highly educated and paid bean counter/legal eagles went even as far to imply one time that we should avoid those we know outside of work just walking through the hospital hallways. Luckily, common sense and the lack of enough bean counters to observe all actions in a huge hospital prevent implied stupidity in this case from being enforced. But at the entrance to the foyer watching that small boy face such uncertainty there were enough stuffed suits and security walking around from allowing me to drift over and striking up a conversation with that fellow.

That in itself was the lesser reason I did nothing and in this day and age few should have to guess what I am implying. Years ago in a far from perfect but simpler time Captain Andy and several other old timers could be found both at the park and on Front Street in Georgetown talking with the children as the strolled both alone and with their parents on what was the main street of my hometown. These old fellows were trusted fixtures and often gave out little pieces of candy to the kids as they chatted with them. Mom and dad’s greatest worry had more to do with dental decay from the candy they gave out than the perversions we find ourselves faced with today on a far too regular basis by both strangers and even people we know. As much as I felt that boy waiting in the hospital foyer could use someone to talk with as his mother made her way back I did not want to end up with the police being called on me as she ran up to find some strange man talking with her son.

Time and a radio call back to work became a factor for me forcing me back to my job and its demands. I looked around to see if his mom might be making her way back but I saw no one looking like the lady who had dropped him off. The parking lot was very full and it was an easy guess that she was forced to park far away. Adding to everything was a huge bunch of stuffed suits walking into view, full of themselves and whatever they might have had at their late lunch; I’ve never been one for high ranking brass preferring to leave the dog and pony for others so I knew it was time to go. I slipped back into the foyer and by chance made eye contact with the little boy who was still watching people walk by him. Making eye contact did not help matters with the worries I felt for him, they were deep and full of troubles I was legally restricted to only guess at. With his eye contact I felt he was beseeching me for some sort of contact but I like a coward I was only able to mumble something very lame like “howdy partner” with some sort of smile. Back in the main lobby I turned one last time and I think I saw his mom about to enter the foyer, at least that’s what I want to believe.

12 comments:

Connecticut Man 1 said...

I think your words may be implying a lot more about your life in this post than you might have intended. Or not. Either way, it was an interesting read.

Beach Bum said...

Yeah, I might have bleed some of my past into what I saw, my childhood was pretty nasty. But in a "business" that tries to sale compassion for the state of humanity the legal eagles in an attempt to cover all the bases to prevent lawsuits have pretty much hollowed it out.

lime said...

you have very adeptly described the push and pull of what your heart knew was ethically right with what your head knew could get you into deep legal water.

what does it say of our society when a decent human being cannot reach out in heartfelt compassion to someone who clearly is in need of comfort without risking their livelihood?

Keshi said...

its a very tough situation.

Keshi.

Vigilante said...

Beach, my man. Not to be judging, only observing. . . . Don't know exactly what to say. I sense you are disappointed in yourself. It's a classic conflict found in the art of professional photographers: whether to act or to record the action. The trouble is, of course, is that you are not a photographer, but a writer.

Vigilante said...

And this piece is a work of art.

MadMike said...

Beach I agree with you about HIPPA. It is nonsense. I have never researched the origin of this idiotic piece of bureaucratic trash, and I don't think I will, at least until Dubya is out of the WH. I have enough to make me mad in this world. Damn Whoopi Goldberg!

Vigilante said...

How's the housing going, Beach?

The Zombieslayer said...

Urgh. The choice between what is right and what society tells us to do. I hate that feeling. I don't envy that situation.

a rose is a rose said...

b b, that WAS his moms entering the lobby. i know it was

a rose is a rose said...

oh and madmike, i hope you know hippa goes right out the window when let's say our government wants to do a study on who has had an abortion....(yes, it's true)

Melvin said...

Good stuff...
thanks for sharing .....

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Melvin
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