Hospital (camera Phone)
Originally uploaded by rustedrobot.

So I’m sitting in the hospital waiting area in the Emergency Room at Emerson Hospital in Concord, MA on Sunday afternoon (don’t ask) and I’m reading the Sunday paper, fairly mindful of the foot traffic one gets accustomed to seeing in such a place: Across the way to my left is an 11 year old kid in full football regalia with a mangled arm and a gaggle of family members. Straight ahead are an older couple, the years having taken their sad toll on the woman’s left knee. To my immeadiate left is a woman who talks way too much and is convinced her son’s appendix is on the cusp of an explosion, so much so that at one point, she pretty much literally drags her son towards the exit, claiming she’s taking him to another hospital twenty minutes away. Her impatience and annoying chatter is a little maddening, though I understand the tension. There are others, like myself, keeping quiet, heads similarly buried in a book or magazine.

But this isn’t the serene quiet of a Sunday morning on the couch with the newspaper blissfully staining the tips of my fingers. It’s the kind of quiet, frankly, that sucks. Because it’s filled with physical hurt. With concern. With uncertainty. It’s the quiet that is made worse by flourescent lighting and antiseptic surroundings. With art no one bothers to look at and with people who can’t help but look at each other, wondering if what you have is going to get you “looked at” before them.

So in walk three more people, two women and a man. Clearly the man is there for moral support and he’s a graying fifty-something. He approaches me and without looking at me, takes four sections of my newspaper (Business, Travel, Living/Arts and Ideas) and simply walks back to his seat.

I stare at him, completely puzzled, unsure whether or not I should say something. Of course, I do.

“That’s my paper,” I say.
“I’m going to read it,” he says smugly, adding “I’m not going to take the print off of it.”

Now, had this been in a different place, I’m not sure how I would have reacted, but going any further over a newspaper in the waiting area of an Emergency Room just wasn’t worth it. Truthfully, it probably isn’t worth it anywhere else. After all, it is just a newspaper.

The thing is, if the guy had come over and just asked if it were mine and said something along the lines of “hey, you mind if I read this” – I would have been more than happy to share it. But he didn’t and he was a prick. My assessment was proven later on when he got up around 1pm and said “I’m going home to watch football. Take care and good luck.” He kissed whomever he was with and left. How sweet.

Even better, shortly before that a man walked in and was asking to see his girlfriend Cindy. When asked what Cindy’s last name was, his response: “I can’t think of it right now.”