Once upon a time, I was spending the day on an ambulance…
It was the summer. Well, really it was supposed to be more like fall, but in typical Indiana fashion, the weather was confused and decided to act like it was mid-July. It was hot, much hotter than 98 degrees with the humidity. In fact, it was so humid and hot that if the band 98 Degrees was still around, they would rename their band to 98 Degrees and 98% Humidity. That’s how hot it was.
My partner and I had a run towards the end of our shift; we were supposed to transport a small person from a grown-up hospital to the little people hospital. The kid, Edgar, was 2 years old and had asthma or an upset belly or had bad shellfish or something trivial like that. He wasn’t dying immediately or anything and the adult-oriented hospital fixed him for the most part, so he was just going to the pediatric hospital because it was a pediatric hospital with pediatric supplies and pediatric doctors and stuff. No biggie, it was a cakewalk.
I never understood that phrase, “cakewalk.” Does anyone actually know what it means? I think it’s kind of like that “bless his/her heart” phrase, as far as no one knowing what it means anyway.
My partner and I arrived at the hospital; we walked inside, awkwardly said hi to a cute nurse or two, and finally found our way upstairs to our pint-sized patient’s room.
He was sitting on his bed and breathing like a champ! Which would make sense, since his asthma attack or shellfish poisoning or day-old chicken McNugget issue or whatever it was had been fixed.
His mom, grandma, and two older sisters were also in the room with him. His sisters, Connie and Calibri (that’s also the name of the font I originally typed this in), were 5 and 7 years old, and Grandma was like…old; too old for me to ask how old she was without having a legitimate medical reason for asking.
So we moved Edgar onto our stretcher and told Mom, Connie, and Calibri that we would meet them at the Hobbit Hospital. My partner and I may have had Grandma and Mom play rock, paper, scissors to decide which one would ride in the ambulance with us. Grandma won. She was quite vicious at that game. I’m just glad we didn’t play blackjack or something; she may have pulled out a shank or a knitting needle and went all LaVita Loca on us.
We made our way back to our truck in the ambulance bay and drove over to the Halfling House. The ride went very well; Grandma and Edgar were cool, calm, collected, and just pleasant in general.
After the boring registration and triaging stuff, Edgar finally had a half-sized bed and a room for us to put him in. Mom, Connie, and Calibri showed up right after we moved him over. The sisters sat on a couch in the room, and Mom sat on the chair in front of the couch.
While my partner was giving report to the C.N. (that stands for Cute Nurse, patent pending), I couldn’t help but notice that I was still standing as all of these people around me were sitting down, so I decided to pop a squat on the stool next to the couch, right behind Mom.
Typically, while someone is giving report, everyone else in the room is supposed to stay relatively quiet and not interrupt. That’s just socially normal and polite. However, I decided to not do that, especially since I was sitting next to these two small people who looked confused and bored.
I dramatically turned on my stool and said, “You two. I have a question for you.”
They looked at me with a slightly confused look on their face; I think it was partially because I interrupted my partner who was giving report and partially because it was just really random.
So I continued, “This question is probably the most important thing you’ll ever be asked in your life. Ok? So, after I ask it, just think about it for a second, process it, and let it sink in. Ok?”
After I said that, my partner burst out laughing (I found out later that Mom’s eyes got huge and she started to freak out that I was going to ask her kids “the most important question ever”).
The C.N. had a confused look on her face too, so my partner whispered something to her to the extent of “He’s going to be a child psychologist. He actually wants to know the answer to this question…we don’t know why though.”
When she had finished telling that to the C.N., the C.N. smiled, and then winked at me. I’m still not entirely sure why. Maybe I should’ve asked her if she wanted to get coffee or something with me sometime so she could explain it. Hmm, hindsight really is 20/20.
Moving on, I said to the sisters, “If you could have a tail, what kind of tail would you have?” Then I continued, “Everyone would have a tail if they could. The nurse would have one, my partner would, and even Grandma would have a tail. So, what kind of tail would you guys have?”
The C.N. interjected, “I would have a peacock tail!”
That made me curious, so I asked, “A male peacock or a female peacock? Because the males are the ones with the pretty tails, the females have the dull, boring ones.”
She responded, “Whichever one is prettier! I like pretty.”
Not knowing how to respond to that, I directed my attention back to the sisters. “So… What kind of tail would you two have?”
Connie said, “I would have a cat tail.”
I asked, “Like a tiger cat? Puma cat? House cat cat tail?”
She decided on boring house cat.
Connie whispered something to Calibri, and Calibri said the five worst words possible: “I wouldn’t have a tail.”
Heartbroken and desperate, I said, “You mean no tail at all? Or like a stump? Like a sheep tail stump or a Rottweiler tail stump?”
She said none, at all. It was like I was talking to Zach about tails all over again! Who doesn’t want a tail? I mean, really… Come on.
At that point in the conversation my partner had to leave the room to get paperwork or something, so I decided to stay in my seat and visit with Edgar’s family some more. I looked at Calibri and Connie and said, “I should probably go help her with whatever she’s doing, but I’m going to sit here for a few more minutes, because you guys are entertaining.” I looked at Calibri, “Well, not you. You’re boring. You really wouldn’t have a tail?”
She said no again.
Then Grandma and I laughed a little. I told Edgar good-bye, and told him if the C.N. gave him any trouble to give me a call and I’d come take care of her.
He didn’t laugh. Grandma laughed at it though, and then I remembered that he was only 2, so he probably didn’t understand my less-than-clever joke.
Then we left and they lived happily ever after or something positive and optimistic.