29 March 2011

Wrong Number

It was such a clean, well-lit restroom that St. Mark's Hospital had to offer to those who found themselves unable to hold their bodily juices until they arrived at home. Clean, well-lit, and with a certain smell of watermelon, owing to the urinal-freshening agent used in those great porcelain contraptions known to the free world as “urinals.”

It was into this fresh and sanitized world that David stepped on a fine Tuesday morning. Uncertain exactly why he found himself in St. Mark's Hospital, David was certain about his bodily juice levels – they were creeping toward the “F” mark, and he needed to address that before he could do anything else. “Men,” David said to himself, reading from the small black and white plaque on the laminated door.

While he expected a quiet inner sanctum of porcelain, cool water and near silence, he received only the first two. It was as if he was being rudely awakened when he heard the voice.

Only two more to go. I gotta' get to the clinic before noon, and then pick up sandwiches. Lots of blood-thinner riding on a pile of subs.” There was someone in a toilet stall. This particular someone was either talking to himself, praying aloud, or on his cell phone.

Hang on a sec. I got a call coming in.”

David figured that it was most likely option #3. Some pharmaceuticals rep was carrying on a conversation while relieving himself of yesterday's fried chicken dinner complete with the Twinkie he used to wash it down. Pharmaceuticals reps sometimes live on the edge, you know.

The fellow continued with his conversation while David attended to his own business. David made the point of coughing and clearing his throat rather loudly several times, as if to give the fellow in the stall due warning that he was not alone in this tiled haven. He then flushed the urinal several times, figuring that it might be amusing to tip off the person on the other end of the line as to the place where the call originated.

Naah...I ain't gonna'. I'm just gonna' go grab a ham croissant down in the cafeteria. They've got the best ham croissants at this place,” opined Mr. Talk-while-you-squat. David made a mental note, however, as to the possible high quality of croissant sandwiches in the St. Mark's cafeteria.

Before he left the men's room, David walked into each individual stall and flushed the toilet. Four successive flushes echoed through the restroom, and hopefully into the ear of the person talking to Mr. Loaf-pincher. Several more loud coughs and he was ready to go. He thought about holding the back of his hand to his lips and blowing for all he was worth, but decided that would only be cheap theatrics.

After his visit in the Human Relations office, David decided to grab a quick bite downstairs in the hospital cafeteria. He made his way through the line and decided upon a bowl of pepper-pot soup and a brioche. He headed to the cashier, and fell into line behind a young man in a sharp blue suit with a crisp white pocket square. “Good to see some young guys wearing pocket squares,” he thought to himself.

As he began to draw his debit card out of his wallet, the young fellow in the blue suit moved ahead to deal with returning his own wallet to his pocket. As he fumbled with it, he dropped his Blackberry, which went skittering across the floor towards David. David reached down and picked up the phone and handed to the young man.

Thanks a lot...I guess I was trying to hold on to too many things,” said the young man, taking back his Blackberry.

No worries,” said David, smiling. He noticed the ham croissant on the young man's tray just as his own errant thumb landed in his bowl of pepper-pot soup.


  1. Hey Tom, I'm struggling to read this; any chance you could change the font to white? Ta!

  2. Oops. Sorry - posting from somewhere other than my office made me pass a brain stone, apparently.

    Thanks for your patience!