The tech liked to smile a lot and would sit and listen to anyone talk for as long as it took for them to have their say. He was also the one who took vital signs at night–blood pressure readings, temperature, etc.—and did the suicide watch checks.
So when he knocked on my door one evening, I wasn’t too surprised to see him standing in the hall when I opened the door. He was smiling as usual. “Come on out here,” he said.
I stepped out of the room and waited for him to state his business. He said, “Come on out here with me and help me load the truck.”
“What?” I said.
“Go get you some good shoes on and come out here and help me load this truck.”
I looked down at my navy sandals. “These the only shoes I got,” I said, dropping into his vernacular. “I don’t think I’m supposed to do that.”
“Come on,” he said.
I stared at him. “I don’t think I’m supposed to leave the hospital,” I said.
“It’s okay. You’ll be with me. That makes it okay,” he said, still grinning.
“I don’t think that’s my job,” I said. I was trying to say no every way I could think of without using the word. “I’m sure you can find someone else to help you better than me.”
“I’ve got a dolly—you’ll be okay. Come on and help me load this truck,” he said.
Then I had a thought. “Okay. You’re testing me, right? This is a test to see if I’m really crazy enough to leave the hospital with you. This is some kind of test, right?”
That response startled him. He rolled his eyes up toward the top of his bald head. “No, I don’t think so. Are you going to help me load the truck or not?”
I just stared at him for a long minute. I could not figure out why he was asking me to go do something one of the other techs could help him do. I had never had a conversation like this one in all my times on the ward. “No!” I finally said. “I’m not!”
“IT’s okay. I’ll just get somebody else. I just wanted to know if you’d help me.”
I stared at him, then turned and went back into my room.
A few seconds later, I heard another knock. “Hello?’ I said,
He opened the door. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I was just messin’ with you.”
I stared at him again until he shut the door. I spent a few minutes pacing the room trying to figure out what that had all been about. Then I decided I would need to warn people he was up to something in case they weren’t as laid-back as I was and took him at his word, so I went out and related the story to Carson and had a good laugh out of it.