Friday, April 26, 2013

The Carpenter and the Blogger

Miserable and gurgling and coughing, I was sitting in the doctor's office (again) when a man in work clothes walked in cradling his bloody hand in a plastic bag filled with paper towels. The way he carried himself, he might have just been walking in to deliver flowers or something. Coolly, at the receptionist's desk, he crooned:

"Hi. Ah...I was working down the shore, and I chopped off a big section of my finger. They told me to go to some hand center -- something affiliated with Jefferson Hospital -- and it is supposed to be near here, but I can't find it...Do you now where it is?"

The receptionist was, as they say, nonplussed. She started to stammer. She asked the woman next to her if she knew of a hand center in the area. She did not. They asked a nurse. She did not know. They took out books and typed things into computers, all the while glancing nervously at the man's bloody hand. This went on for some time. It was not unlike a scene from the Keystone Cops silent films, behind the office glass, except that the comedic action was punctuated by nervous whispers.

My first thought was: Don't be judgemental, Chris. They'll find it. Stop thinking words like "inept" and "for God's sake" and "just do Google search -- it will take three seconds" and "surely they realize this guy could lose his finger."

Out of curiosity, I took out my phone and typed in things I had heard: "Hand center -- cherry hill, nj -- rte.70" I instantly had a phone number and an address of the very place he sought.

I sat there, thinking it over. It would be creepy to pop up behind the guy and reveal the fact that I was listening to his conversation, right? Also, doing so could possibly insult the inept ladies who were having so much trouble discovering an address not three minutes away from their daily workplace.

I spent a minute analyzing the many social pitfalls and eventualities of the situation, were I to intervene. But this was ridiculous...

Finally, I couldn't stand it any more. I went to the desk and handed the lady my phone with the information. She looked shocked and took my phone as if it was a dead blackbird.

She called the number got directions for the the guy. He scampered off with a tip of his baseball cap and a thank you. "Guess I should get one of them smart phones," he said, chuckling the too-far-forward conversational laugh of a workman.

I laughed, back, "Well, It's not like you could have used it just now."

A cloud of confusion crossed his eyes and he made a kind of Bela Lugosi/Dracula exit out of the door.

On the way out of my own appointment, the receptionist said, "Thanks for your help. You might have saved that guy's finger. You should have a piece of chocolate cake after dinner tonight."

I forgot to have the cake. And that statement was nice to hear, but, somehow, I imagined a chocolaty confection with a sour core. If I had stayed wrapped up in my social concerns, that guy might have lost his finger.

How strong the current is, and how dangerous it can be.


  1. Indeed. Lucky for him you were present and in the moment.

    Your mitzvah.

  2. Glad you helped the guy. I would put his health over the personal feelings on those ladies or any social pitfalls. Well at least I like to think I would of done that! You should probably go back and get that cake, that is something I would definitely do.