“Can I have your name please,” asked the young woman behind the large registration desk in the hospital earlier today as she raised her eyes and looked at me stoically.
Glancing at her name tag, I said cheerfully, “Hi Nicole! I am Marybeth Jeitner and I’m here for a procedure. I had an appointment at 10:00 AM and I know I’m late. Sorry about that.”
Nicole smiled politely as she got busy on the computer to find my name. After some difficulty and a phone call to find out where I was supposed to be, she told me to go to the 2nd floor registration desk where she was sure I should be.
Nicole could not have known that my morning was already a comedy of errors. I was laughing to myself about how hard I had tried to be responsible to be where I’m supposed to be, dress appropriate to the situation (in this case, dressing down for medical professionals–dreads pulled back, no biker shirts and cover most of the tattoos, and shoes instead of sandals–my mother would be so proud), and be on time. But none of that went as planned. After receiving a call from the hospital nuclear medicine department that I needed to have the surgeon mark the spot for the procedure, at the exact moment I was ready to walk out my door, directions in hand, sweater for the air conditioned hospital, phone fully charged…well, you get the picture.
Now at that moment, I had choices:
1) I could be angry because no one told me sooner and because the delay was going to cause me to be late for my appointment. I’d have to spend time and money to go in the opposite direction to my doctor’s office first…if he could even see me to mark the spot. OR, 2) I could have chuckled and realized this is just life. This is my life. I continually get lessons about lightening up and not taking things so darned seriously.
So, to continue with my story, after having driven north to my doctor and then an hour south to the hospital, I found myself in front of Nicole, who could not find my name in her computer. Shaking off my desire to burst into laughter, I turned my attention to the beautifully clear sound of classical piano music in the large lobby. To my amazement there stood a magnificent baby grand piano. I couldn’t see the keys from where I stood but I was sure someone sat playing the melody I heard. I looked more closely but no one sat at the piano. Clearly the sound came from it. Suddenly an eerie feeling came over me and a story about a ghost who played the baby grand incessantly formed in my mind. I knew that writers see stories everywhere but never had one come to me in quite that way. It was exhilarating!
But my adventure was just beginning. On arrival at the registration desk on the 2nd floor, I was greeted by a woman whose facial expression said, “Who are you and don’t answer that because I don’t really know what I’m doing.” Smiling a little too much I think, I told her my name and why I was there. After searching several lists of names, she said, “I don’t have you here but I will find someone who can tell us where you are supposed to be.”
I began to notice that everyone I made eye contact with, smiled at me. My humorous attitude toward the fiasco was catching on. As I sat waiting, I noticed many others were waiting to be called for whatever procedures or surgeries they needed so I did what any writer would do, I began adding them to my burgeoning hospital story of the piano playing ghost. My imaginings were interrupted by the receptionist saying, “Mrs. Jeitner, I’m sorry but you are supposed to register downstairs.” Much to her surprise it seemed, I began to laugh. I told her it was okay and that I liked the ghost playing the classical piano on the first floor. She began to laugh with me as did several people who overheard us. I left them behind sensing I had made a small difference in there otherwise serious and difficult situations.
Standing once again in front of Nicole who was apologizing profusely as she hurriedly had me sign papers, I saw a forlorn, frail woman in a wheelchair nearby. Before long, we engaged in a conversation about the beautiful music being played by the ghost. Laughter rang out from surrounding offices as people within earshot, heard me telling the story of the pianist who was trapped in the lobby of the hospital causing havoc with the computers by his music which often had the effect of sending patients from floor to floor trying to find where they were supposed to be and kept receptionists pulling out their hair in utter confusion.
Finally my procedure was to begin so I bid adieu to my happy audience and as I turned to say goodbye to the gentle woman in the wheelchair, she looked up at me with the brightest eyes, and a smile from ear to ear. She waved a weak hand and we said goodbye.
My attitudes are catchy, this is true and I am a writer who sees a story in the most unlikely places. What began as a comedy of errors today, became an opportunity to bring a some joy where there was little and had the further effect of providing me with a beautiful picture emblazoned in my mind of a gentle, sad, frail woman in a hospital wheelchair who felt joy for a moment with me and perhaps because of me–a writer of stories.
Thoughts, ideas and comments are welcome.
As always, thank you for reading.