Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Interludium Telefonica

Each shift we are issued not-so-little phones at work which we carry on our scrub-belts or in our pockets. If a doctor or another unit calls, the secretary can transfer it directly to one of us. It's meant to be a convenience but because it so often interrupts our care these are generally reviled. If us nurses had our way we'd toss our phones out the windows and they would lie in various pieces scattered about the patio areas and streets that surround the hospital.

There have been instances in which I was trying desperately to thread an intravenous catheter into a tiny little evasive vein in some poor old lady's arm when my phone would ring, blowing my concentration and sometimes the vein I was trying to access. Or maybe I was into something really filthy like a very messy bed; I'd have to stop and quickly wash my hands so I could take the call.

You have to take the call. Otherwise how can you prioritize it? Maybe it's just my spouse wanting to tell me that they love me. Maybe it's a doctor inquiring about a patient. Or maybe it's one of the nursing assistants calling to tell me that another one of my patients just fell and pulled out a chest tube. You never know.

I went up the the desk at the nurses' station. My charge nurse and the secretary were there and they seemed to be in-between things. They were just chatting a little about this or that. Charlie Sheen, some dumbass thing one of their husbands did, or whatever. I waited for a break in their conversation.

"There's something wrong with my phone," I said. Andrea the secretary asked me if I had put a fresh battery in it, and I said that I had a different problem.

"Look at it, " I said. Andrea wanted me to hand it to her and she checked it out. She used her desk phone to dial it and it rang and when she picked it up it was working okay.

"No, that's not it," I said. "Look at it." They both examined it and said there was nothing wrong.

"Of course there's something wrong!" I claimed. "The zero comes after the nine. Zero doesn't come after nine. Ten does. The zero belongs before the one!"

They agreed and then started talking about how it was the same on old phones that actually had dials. You never see those anymore.

I'd like to have an old phone that has a dial. I think it would go well in our house, which has a sort of step-ahead-into-the-sixties modernity to it. Maybe a Princess phone in some groovy retro color:

My child and I were out exploring the various old-stuff shops once and came across a Mickey phone. They really really wanted it, but the store person said it wasn't operational. We would want to actually use it, so we didn't buy it. It was totally cool though.

"Soooo," said Andrea. "Shrimp, when did you first notice this about the zeroes? They've always been that way, you know" and she smiled that sarcastic way she always does.

"Really?" I asked, baiting her.

"Well yeah, you big dork-burger! You mean you've never noticed before?" she asked.

"I guess I haven't been paying attention," I said mischievously and then I walked away to go back to work.

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