“At a time when Ide was totally dependent on the goodwill and skill of other people, she felt acutely grateful to everyone, everywhere, who does their best by giving what they have to give, no matter what issues they are facing in their own lives.”
Chapter 57: Sweet Ruthlessness
As Amira walked out of Handspun, she bumped into Gabriel and some of the Boys of Darnall who were taking a short-cut through the Arcade. The Boys included some women, two of whom were walking with the group today. No one in that group was, generally, friendly towards Amira, although, some were more polite than others. Gabriel, however, stopped to talk to Amira. Despite their problems, he did love Amira. Even if he didn’t, he was not a rude person. As Gabriel was talking, Amira could feel the eyes of one of the women boring into her back. It was Bridgette. She didn’t live in Darnall. She was an artist, like Gabriel, and lived in the city.
“Hi Bridgette,” said Amira turning to face her. “How are you?”
“Fine,” said Bridgette not returning the courtesy of asking how Amira was. Not so easily deterred by Bridgette’s barely veiled animosity, Amira asked where she was staying while in Darnall. “At Gabriel’s,” said Bridgette with a smile to Gabriel. “It’s always great to catch up with my life-long friend. We go together. Don’t we, Gabriel?” Amira looked at Gabriel who was silent. Bridgette was in her early thirties and met Gabriel when she started her art career about ten years ago. Amira thought that it wasn’t exactly “life-long” but it was long enough. What it was “long enough” for was yet to be discerned.
“Let’s go,” said Gabriel to the group. “See you later, Amira.”
As Amira got in her car to drive back to Waldmeer, she kept thinking about Bridgette. What does she want from Gabriel? And why does she look at me with such competitive hatred in her eyes? Bridgette had a long-term boyfriend in the city and so Amira didn’t feel she wanted a relationship with Gabriel, although, that couldn’t be ruled out. Perhaps, she had a different sort of proposition in mind. Whatever it was, she must have felt that Amira was an enemy to her plans. Bridgette was an attractive woman; short, blonde hair which she wore perfectly. She was the sort of woman that men tended to like. She was clever but didn’t flaunt it. Men like that. She was, also, ambitious and manipulative but she hid it behind a pretty face and pleasant personality. Amira had the impression that she had grown up in a family where a lot of hope was riding on her achievements. She had the resilience of someone who had made her way in life by perseverance and self-reliance and had learned, probably, as a child that ugly traits were best covered with a sweet smile and light-hearted demeanour. Sweet ruthlessness, thought Amira.
Amira was approaching the crossroad to turn for Waldmeer. The car in front was slowing and so she went to change lanes. After checking the lane, she turned her eyes forward again and realised that the car in front had stopped abruptly. It was only a few feet in front of her. Having no time to brake, she swerved sharply to try and miss it. She caught the back corner of the front car. Her own car swung around and crashed into the side of the stationary car. She sat there for a few seconds wondering if she was still here. Not only was she “here” but she seemed unharmed except for a bruised arm and what would become a stiff neck. All in all, it was nothing for that sort of a crash. Thank-you for saving me, she said to every being who would have tried to help her; which would have been many. Somewhat dazed, Amira looked out the window of her damaged car to the paddocks with cows who had returned unconcerned to their munching. A much more concerned gentleman from the stationary car was quickly walking towards her. Why? Amira asked herself of the crash. In moments when our filters are temporarily disabled, we can, often, see things clearly that normally we would not want to see. For the second time that day, Amira thought, sweet ruthlessness. Ruthless, indeed.
Chapter 58: Calling
Amira was not the only one to be in the accident zone this week. Ide’s fifteen-year-old son, Christopher, had been visiting his friend in the city and had broken his leg at the skate park. He was taken to the closest Emergency Department which happened to be in one of the city’s busiest public hospitals. Ide was driving there now from Waldmeer. Baby Lan-Lan had been dropped at his Dad’s place. Being a nurse, Ide was used to hospitals. However, things are different when it is your own family member. Also, Ide was used to the quiet, little country hospital in Waldmeer, not the hectic pace of a large inner-city hospital. At least, a broken leg is mendable and it isn’t anything worse, she reassured herself while navigating the country roads she knew so well.
Ide’s city driving was not the best when all was well, let alone under stress. As she got closer to the hospital, she prayed, Please, help Christopher to be okay. Help him to manage the pain. Don’t let him get too anxious. Help me to find a suitable park. Tell all the right people to help us. She kept telling herself to calm down or she wouldn’t be able to see or hear any answers to her prayers. Finally, she found the hospital parking station and worked out the parking system and then how to navigate the walkways and lifts through the hospital. The hospital was a great conglomeration of buildings of different architecture. It had been extended over many years and joined together in a, seemingly, incomprehensible system of tunnels and passages.
The Emergency Department was busy, clinical, and unpleasant. Sick people were unhappily sitting on chairs; some, occasionally, moaning or vomiting. Drug addicts, alcoholics, and mentally ill people were walking up and down the aisles or yelling out random messages to the Gods or crying. One man was tottering precariously and decided to sit on the floor in the middle of the walkway.
“Sit on a chair, please, sir,” yelled out the staff member behind the desk. “No, not on the floor. On a chair, please!” she repeated. Her words fell on the deaf ears of a drug-addled man whose least concern in the world was where he was sitting.
Within a few minutes, a security guard who had been looking at Ide, came over to her and said, “You are on the wrong line.” He then took her to the right line and waited with her to tell the in-taking person what she needed. At the time, Ide didn’t know how the guard knew she was on the wrong line but, later, she realised that where she had been standing wasn’t a line at all. She would have been standing on it a long time, getting nowhere.
Once Ide was inside the Trauma Unit, amidst the chaos of a place like that, she was in awe of the way the whole thing worked. There were countless staff walking up and down the corridors with, at least, twelve different uniforms that Ide had seen so far. Waldmeer Hospital had three. You were either a doctor, a nurse, or everything else put together under one nondescript, grey uniform that everyone hated. In spite of the number of staff and the complexity of what was going on, they all seemed to know what they were doing and, further, what each other was supposed to be doing. If it wasn’t for Ide’s knowledge of hospitals, she thought that it would have looked like an invisible Director was orchestrating them. If Christopher needed to be moved, five of them would, suddenly, appear from nowhere to help.
Ide didn’t tell any of them that she was a nurse. Right now, she didn’t feel like a professional. She was a worried mother and wanted to be treated as such. At one point, a nurse was filling out a form and asked Ide her name as Christopher’s next of kin. The reminder that Ide, herself, was a person with a name (and corresponding human emotions) made Ide cry so that she couldn’t get her name out. Previous to that, she was far too concentrated on Christopher to think about herself. The nurse stopped talking and looked at Ide with concern. Everyone in the room seemed to instinctively sense a problem, stopped what they were doing, and stared at Ide and the nurse. Get it together, Ide scolded herself. You know what your name and phone number are. Ide answered the questions in an unsteady but functional voice and everyone decided the moment was over and returned to the tasks at hand.
“I think you are all wonderful,” Ide said numerous times to whichever staff member was helping them. She meant it.
“We do our job to hear things like that,” replied one nurse.
It struck Ide how different all the staff members were in personality. Some were all kindness and love. The nurse who initially took Ide to Christopher had such beautiful, compassionate eyes that Ide momentarily wondered if she was an angel. Some were extremely good at their job and Ide knew that they were doing their very best to make sure the medical procedures were done well. Some were funny. To be funny in a Trauma Unit is a special gift, thought Ide. Some were cranky but even they were helpful to Ide and Christopher in their own way. A girl about twenty fluttered in and out of their section tidying everything up.
“You are like the mother fixing up the bedroom,” said Ide.
The girl laughed and said, “Yes, I can’t stand the room being messy.” The mess kept reappearing and so did she.
As Ide waited for Christopher to return from his operation in the early hours of the morning, she thought how wonderful and rewarding it is when people follow their calling and do their job well for the genuine benefit of other people. Her own calling to nursing had been reaffirmed and strengthened. At a time when she was totally dependent on the goodwill and skill of other people, she felt acutely grateful to everyone, everywhere, who does their best by giving what they have to give, no matter what issues they are facing in their own lives.