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Mr. Easton. Of course I knew who Mr. Easton was. We’d all been waiting for him to call back for what felt like forever but was probably less than ten minutes. Still, as soon as he said his name I blanched. I never was a good poker player, can’t hide my emotions at all. It can be hard being a nurse without that ability to just become a wall when your shift starts, but I’m good at my job even so. Still, I sure was glad there was a phone line between us and not a desk.
The doc was walking towards me so I looked at him, raised my eyebrows and said “Mr. Easton,” and rifled some papers, pretending like I had to look for this guys info but really just waiting to see if the doc wanted me to handle the call or not. Boy howdy, I was not looking forward to handling that call. None of us were. We’d all done a rock-paper-scissors when we got the call that the ambulance was coming in. I’d won and had just taken a deep breath to let out a sigh of relief when the doc came in to tell us the ambulance was here and to knock it off, he knew what we were up to. He said he’d handle calling Mr. Easton himself. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so ashamed as I was that minute.
When he told us a few minutes ago that he’d had to leave a message and to expect Mr. Easton to call in sometime today, why I thought to myself, “Virginia, here’s your chance to make up for that despicable display.” I was eager and almost hopeful to be the one to take the call. Until I heard his voice. Suddenly he was a real person who didn’t know terrible news and I was going to have to tell him. A man I’d never met. Over the phone. It just wasn’t right.
But the doc nodded his head and pointed toward his office; he was going to field the call. Hallelujah and thank you Jesus, cause I would have done it, and I would have done a fine job, but woo wee was I glad I didn’t have to. I put that Mr. Easton on hold so fast I was about as worried as I’d hung up on him on accident. But no, there it was, the blinking red light that told me he was still there waiting. Poor man.
A few minutes ago this place had been hopping, I mean really something to see. Sounds of sneakers scuffing the floors as they ran with gurneys, people speaking all kinds of medical jargon kinda like you see on television but without the chaos, tubes getting run here and there and machines being turned on. All the beeps and clinks and the shuffle of efficiency. I loved my job.
My favorite part was when I had graveyard shift, although we don’t call it that here…bit morbid for a place that’s supposed to be healing people. Still that late night to early morning shift when patients are sleeping, doctors are at home, and it’s just me and maybe a couple other nurses and a janitor. That twenty minutes or so between bed checks and chart updates when I’m wolfing down some sugary thing I got out of the machine down the hall (those chocolate cakes are the perfect jolt I need to get me through that three to four a.m. bit, but unfortunately they haven’t stocked the machine yet this week and the chocolate cakes are out and I’ve had to make due the last two nights with those snowball things. Yuck. Still, the only other choice is pretzels right now and what the heck am I supposed to do with pretzels at three o’clock in the morning?).
Everything is so quiet. Well, compared to the daytime anyway. At three in the morning, as I’m eating my chocolate cakes, it’s just me chewing and sipping on stale breakroom coffee. There’s the beeping of machines coming from every room, just about, but still and all…it’s almost quiet. It’s a silence I’m not used to and the closest to silence I can stand. I mean normally during the day I’m talking a mile a minute and my coworkers are everywhere and the patients are pushing those buttons needing pain meds, needing to pee, needing nothing but a bit of company rolled up in a request for water. But at three…silence.
~~~That’s one hour~~~