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Tuesday
Jul142009

Day 3 (#2): A Helpful Glimpse of Hell

I’ve just returned from a kind of purgatory—a gateway to hell that’s not quite open yet.

I should explain that I have a partner in this business, someone I worked with years ago. He joined up with me a couple of months back to sell personal protective gear. (He still has a job that demands focus, so he’s basically an investor.)

Tonight a blue SUV with New Jersey plates swept through a Soho bike lane painted green and slammed my friend and his bicycle into a parked car, then took off. My headstrong friend tried to ride after him but his wheel was warped, so he didn’t get far. That’s all he remembers before he turned up here, bent and gasping.

THE GOOD OLD DAYS: NURNBERG 1682Once inside, he started vomiting. He had a headache. No other flu symptoms. No apparent broken bones. I googled symptoms of internal injury and couldn’t find blood in his barf. Still, he needed a doctor: an MRI, X-Rays, a proper inquiry.

After waiting an hour for an ambulance, we walked to the nearest hospital. He said it was a good thing nobody reads my blog because the staff would otherwise know I’d said hospitals are dangerous places staffed by filthy people. “Only the doctors,” I reminded him. “Which would make the nurses extra-kind to you.”

He wasn’t convinced. He hates my blogging, thinks I’m going to annoy you all and blow his savings. “Why insult your customers? Have they insulted you?” (Well, no, but I haven’t insulted any readers either.) I shut him up by pointing out that if you all link to this site, our products will achieve better visibility—with no advertising expense. Sales are booming anyway. Case closed.

Yeah, he’s the mercenary one. I’m the carrot—who’s really blogging because I feel like communicating with you all. He has to put up with me because I do all the work.

No Disease Permitted Without Photo I.D.

The cops almost didn’t let us into the hospital. Not because it was too crowded or rife with contagion, which it was. They didn’t like our … masks and goggles. This may have been a matter of jealousy, but they said it was a security precaution. They wanted to see faces and ID. They keep records of all visitors.

I hated the thought of unveiling myself at the entrance to an orgy of killer microbes. My friend was incensed. I’m a libertarian, but I’m not paranoid; he is both. I worry about the potential for the government to track us all into virtual cells; he thinks it’s been happening for years.

My partner thus told the cops to go to hell. Which meant: no help for him. I tried to explain that he was in shock, had been run over. They told us to step aside so others could jam the doorway.

Then my friend did what he always does—surprised me with a sudden theatrical turn that reboots a tense situation. He fainted.

His ideological incapacitation enabled some orderlies to remove his mask while I extracted his ID. They put him on a stretcher and processed him for four hours amid the kind of chaos I depicted pretty well yesterday. People inside were yelling, coughing, screaming, sneezing, moaning, dying. I didn’t see any fights, but this is known to be a pretty civilized hospital. The medical staff looked exhausted in a motley array of masks—no goggles.

The young doctor we saw was probably an intern. She didn’t really listen and we barely understood her mumbling. After poking my partner to assure there were no broken ribs or internal injuries, she ordered some tests and told us to come back for an MRI in a few days, “when things have calmed down.” Fat chance.

« Day 3: A Libertarian With Hopes, Fears & Regrets | Main | Day 4: Pandemic Prescription—Generational Conflict »