Saturday, October 15, 2011

Appetite Despite Amputation

The din of a densely populated bar is something that can play tricks on your auditory senses. One minute, you’ll be shouting in order to be heard by those who are sitting within an arm’s reach, and the next minute you can speak at normal volume and be clearly understood by an entire table of people. The same can be said when you are listening to the din. Some conversations turn into a repetitive “rabble, rabble, rabble…” While other comments just cut through the noise like a hot knife though conversational butter.

One of those conversations happened to cut right through and find its way onto my ear toast. It came from a younger guy who was dressed in a freshly purchased set of new scrubs. He was obviously someone who worked at a hospital or Doctor’s office, and judging by the pristine condition of those scrubs, he had not been employed there very long. Up until this point, I hadn’t paid him much attention. That is, until I heard him say, “Yeah, I got to go down to the morgue today. It was cool. I mean, they have six drawers for the bodies, and then one dedicated for just the amputated body parts.”

I have never been in a morgue, and I am okay with continuing that trend for as long as humanly possible. However, this comment sent me there in my mind. I pictured the standard cold stainless steel room, where corpses go to be identified and picked up by funeral homes. I imagine it being a quiet place where the people working there are respectful of their surroundings. That is, until I heard the next comment from this young be-scrubbed gentleman.

He said, “The guy opened the drawer and unveiled a drawer full of arms, legs, fingers and toes. It was awesome. I started to ask the guy some questions about it, but then someone peeked their head in and told me they were having cake upstairs. A drawer full of limbs and digits is awesome, but I can never turn down free cake.”

I thought to myself, “Wow, this kid is one morose mother fucker. How can you look at a drawer full of frozen body parts one minute and then engorge himself on cake the next.”

As if he were listening to my inner thoughts, he added, “It was Mandarin orange pineapple cake, and it was delicious!”

I pictured people running in from the emergency room to get a slice of cake, and the patients being left to deal with their mortal wounds on their own. I imagined EKG machines being left unattended and poor flat-lining souls gasping for their last breath as these cake fiends shoveled sugary goodness into their faces. The thought of it just made me sick. Plus, I hate the taste of pineapple, so that didn't help.

After digesting the comments from the kid in scrubs and my subsequent daydreams, I decided that it wasn't as bad as I initially assumed. I'm sure that they would be consummate professionals, and they most likely would take turns watching the patients so the other people could go get a slice of the delectable dessert. After all, it didn't seem like this was a single occurrence, so I am sure they have a contingency plan for situations such as that.

My next thought turned to the personality aspect of this young man. Not only did he willingly go down to the morgue and look intently into the drawer of body parts, but he had no problem switching into a mode of food consumption and revelry immediately thereafter. I know that is takes a certain personality to work in a hospital. I had a roommate who worked in one, and the stories he told made my stomach turn. He would have no problem telling them at the dinner table while he devoured a bowl of pasta. I would put my fork down, because my appetite was gone. He would ask if he could finish what I hadn't eaten. When I think about it now. I think he did it on purpose.

I thought back to the morgue and the cake. What was the occasion for the cake? What do they do with the discarded parts in the drawer? Why couldn't they have made key lime pie instead? And why couldn't someone bring me a slice?

I imagine a hospital is just like a regular office. A place where birthdays are celebrated with cake, and everyone gets together to sing a quick song, eat some cake, then get back to their daily duties. In an office environment, the bookends to that celebration are generally spent sitting around a table to discuss synergy and an afternoon of putting cover sheets on TPS reports. In the case of hospital workers; one minute they are standing around a metal table performing an autopsy and the next they are putting white sheets over a recently deceased homeless person. Only one of those should put you in the mood for cake. That is the opinion of someone who can't even hear the word “blood” without needing to sit down. Call me what you want, but just don't call me down to the morgue for dessert. I don't care if it is the best key lime pie ever baked. I won't be caught dead down there. That is, until I am actually dead, and I don't think I'll be in the mood for cake then either.

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