Sitting in the ER

Sitting in the ER, waiting to hear my name called, with a female tag team wrestling match playing at high volume on the TV hanging behind me and the people across from me wearing their masks on their chins was not the way I expected to spend last night.

I know no one expects to end up in an emergency room. It’s a reminder that things can change slowly, or in the blink of an eye. This trip turned out to be less serious than we feared, which was a great relief. My wife had a fall in the yard and did not end up with a broken rib or anything requiring admission. Scrapes and bruises, and she will have several days of hurting like hell, but we were in and out in three hours. This morning we hit the pharmacy to get her prescriptions filled as soon as it opened.

The fact that I was in a room filled with people in medical distress, some of unknown origin, and I had to ask the people sitting across from me to put their masks on was difficult to understand. We are at over 600,000 dead from this pandemic, it’s finally, after over a year, starting to recede, and the emergency room has signs saying that masks are required. If there were ever a place where wearing a mask would be a no-brainer, I would think that an ER would be it. Most people were masked up, but a few were sporting the below-the-nose option, and a couple were bare faced.

There is nothing, including wearing a mask, that is an absolute one hundred percent guarantee of protection against the virus. Masks do tilt the odds in favor of avoiding infection, and, more importantly, helps reinforce the fact that we’re all in this one together against a threat that is no respecter of any of our occasionally arbitrary lines of division. I’m more than willing to mask up when necessary. It’s one way to express both commonality with and concern for my fellow humans. Like I said, a no-brainer. I’ll probably continue with many of the hermit aspects of life that were necessary during the worst of the pandemic due to my deeply ingrained introversion, but it will be nice to have options again.

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A career working with teenagers on the fringes of society has made me both sensitive to and appreciative of the complexities of character and the struggles, inner and outer, that we all wrestle with in one form or another. My writing emphasizes character development over action, and, as a lifelong Southerner, the rhythms and cadence of the Southeastern United States influence both my spoken and written voice.

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