Saturday, 20 October 2012

Drop 'em and Cough

There is often a corporate nervousness when strangers gather for a common purpose. The airport departures lounge is such a place, especially if there is a delay in the departure time. Nervousness shows in different ways. The well-seasoned travellers smile knowingly and reach for the book or playing cards. Travellers with young families react badly as stressed children get a sixth sense of how to pile pressure onto parents by demanding toilet trips/sweets/drinks or the freedom to explore the airport knowing that a parental refusal can be countered by a loud noise.

 Some travellers will move towards the check-out desk demanding explanations - in the naive hopes that they will be told the truth, and that passenger pressure can help. Nine times out of ten the broadcast reason for the delay will be described as a "technical problem" .This seems to be a blanket phrase covering anything from a replacement engine needed (as happened when we tried to fly from Manchester to Cuba), a need for a replacement light bulb (in the emergency floor lighting) to a crew shortage (pilot; or tractor driver to tow the plane out). Eventually passengers will board and the corporate passenger spirit will lift instantly.

Yesterday I arrived at a hospital as an out-patient ready to donate yet another blood sample from one of my bruised arms. The surgery opened at 09.00 so I was surprised to find a small queue at 08.30. Taking the small  paper ticket number 83 to the back row of chairs I settled in for the brief wait. The room rapidly filled (what a lot of blood letting in prospect!). Nine o'clock chimed and there was a corporate expectant hush. Number 80 please! No-one moved. Silence and a lot of sidelong looks. Who on earth was 80? Should 81 make a move? Would a latecomer call everyone's bluff and jump the queue?

A nurse appeared, confirmed that 80 was a leftover from the previous night, and called for 81. "Bingo!" quipped an "old hand" and he was rewarded with a corporate chuckle. On my left an elderly gentleman declared that the wait reminded him of Army medicals." Just one instruction - drop 'em and cough!" was the comment. At that point I queried whether I was in the right queue. I managed to suppress a question about how coughing without any trousers could be used in military action.

82 flashed up, followed rapidly by 83. Looked like the race was on  between the 2 blood nurses to see who could fill the barrel first so I charged into the vampire's lair.

I was out by 09.10, feeling slightly light-headed and bearing yet another rapidly forming bruise on my inner arm - a sort of corporate badge to be shown off for effect and evidence that I had indeed joined the right queue.

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