Tuesday, March 07, 2006

An Afternoon Fable, or Why One Should Always Keep Spare Pants In The Office

Once upon a time, there was a young and hideously underpaid Ivy League graduate whose boss did not condone temporary absence for such trivial matters as "doctor's appointments" and "funerals." Thus, when this young and hideously underpaid Ivy League graduate (let's call her YHUILG) required a routine blood test at her local Quest Diagnostics, she was forced to schedule it for an ungodly hour of the morning when most New Yorkers are still far from exiting their Ambien, Lunesta, Benadryl, quaalude or barbituate-induced slumbers. YHUILG wasn't a morning person, and since she'd eaten a dinner consisting of vodka and several gourmet cheese twists the night before, she wasn't exactly off to the best start. Nevertheless, she forged on into the chilly morning air, intent on keeping tardiness at bay, and therefore, keeping her boss from strangling her with his Jesus piece.

YHUILG arrived at Quest Diagnostics and signed her name on the clipboard by the front desk. The friendly receptionist smiled, pointed at the seating area, and instructed her to wait her turn. YHUILG was relaxed. She'd had blood taken zillions of times before, and furthermore, she had a brand new issue of Parenting Magazine in front of her. Therefore, when the needle-wielding gentleman in the back called her name, she blithely scooped up her belongings and marched into the curtained-off area. Sure, she hadn't eaten breakfast and was feeling a little woozy, but that was no matter. Up went the sleeve, out went the arm, on went the latex glove, out came the alcohol pad. She turned her head away from the needle and thought about the Kellogg's Fruit Harvest cereal that awaited her at the office. Would it be peach strawberry? Or strawberry blueberry? And would she use 2% milk, or the fat-free? Then, all of the sudden, something changed. You see, the kindly receptionist had neglected to tell YHUILG that the needle operator had received his training from two pre-schoolers using a Cabbage Patch Kid as their instructional tool. What does this mean, you ask? Well, it means that he stabbed her like she was an anaphylactic shock victim getting emergency Epi-Pen treatment, and then realized that he did not, in fact, have any idea how to properly execute the very complicated "fill vial and remove" operation. And as he contemplated this minor predicament, he left the needle firmly lodged in YHUILG's vein, twisting around, probing her arterial walls, poking through her skin...and she was feeling dizzy...very dizzy.....

Somewhere in the back of YHUILG's mind, she wondered why she was back in bed, asleep once more. Hadn't she woken up and gotten dressed already? Or had she imagined it? But it was so nice and warm under the covers. And the pleasant din of people talking to her was so very soothing. But why was she careening through a tunnel...and why was she moving so fast? And BAM!!!! She opened her eyes. The sadistic needle-man was standing over her, as was the very personable receptionist. Fluorescent lights beamed down on her. "Ok," she thought to herself. "Clearly, I fainted. But I'm fine now, and I'm awake." Whew. Embarrassing, but not life-altering. She took a deep breath. Wait a second...what was that strange sensation? She didn't understand why she felt such a strange sensation. And she decided to inquire about this strange sensation. "Why," she demanded, "is there water on the floor?" The Stabber and his minion looked at each other, then at YHUILG, and smiled their most sympathetic, un-condescending smiles. It was only then that YHUILG realized what she had done. And it wasn't pretty. "It's totally common!" chimed the receptionist, cheery as usual. "Yeah, sometimes it's a lot worse than that, if you get my drift," said Stab-Man. Words of encouragement, apparently, but for some reason they weren't exactly doing their job. YHUILG was horrified. No, she was beyond horrified. Nothing in her four years of liberal arts education and two years spent pursuing an utterly useless major had prepared her for this sort of humilation. Not while sober, at least. And to top things off, she had twenty minutes to get to work.

So, what does any reasonably intelligent being with soaking wet pants, low blood sugar and an audience of concerned phlebotomists do in such a situation? Well, naturally, she swipes a pair of scrub-type pants from the receptionist, throws her own pants in her handbag, and heads to work. Thus, when YHUILG showed up at her desk (not a minute late, mind you), feeling mildly nauseated and wearing pegged, navy trousers that were three sizes too big in the rump area and boasted a gloriously elasticized waistband, the last thing she wanted to do was explain herself to her boss. So she didn't. And she let him, at least for a day, silently wonder when YHUILG's fashion sensibilities had taken a turn for the "Jerry Springer Audience Member." Actually, come to think of it, he probably felt right at home. So the day went on, and the world kept turning, and YHUILG's boss kept his Speakerphone on, and YHUILG's pants were laundered, and her scrubs were incinerated, and she kept watching Lost episodes on her i-Tunes at work, and order was restored to the planet Earth and its outlying galaxies. But from that moment on, she would always keep a pair of jeans in her bottom desk drawer. And she would never take her brain's pontine micturition center for granted again.

Moral: "Accidents" can happen.



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