Wednesday's Lunch Out

I work at a hospital.
Well, at the medical school part actually.
I teach future doctors.
I avoid patients.
They are often sickly and grouchy.

On Wednesdays we always go out for lunch.
I brown-bag it the rest of the week.
I look forward to Wednesday’s lunch out.
There are four of us who go out together.
We have to eat and get back in an hour.
I like the pizza buffet.
It is not on my diet, but what is that’s good?
Besides I have been on a diet for the last 30 years,
so what will it hurt to fall off one Wednesday?
Nikki always wants to eat at the Greek place.
John prefers Jason’s Deli. John is from New Jersey.
Jan is on a strict diet. She can’t eat anywhere we go.

Today was Wednesday.
So we went out to lunch as usual.
As we exited the building, headed for the parking lot,
we passed a bench on which
an old geezer, 80 if he was a day,
sat sobbing rather loudly.
Nikki, John, and I had the good sense to look away.
Jan, who never meets a stranger…although she meets
a lot of strange people…went over and asked,
“Can I do anything to help you?”
I thought, “Damn! This will delay lunch.”

The old fellow said that his daughter
(she must be only 50, I’m guessing)
received a phone call from his older brother’s daughter
(okay, now she’s gotta be 60)
that his older brother had had a heart attack
and was in our C.I.C.U.
He and his older brother had had a fight over
something - he can’t even remember what it was now
(Isn’t that always the way?) - nineteen years ago
and not spoken since. But, his brother in a period
of consciousness called for him, wanted to see him
once more before he died. (A call on his deathbed. Cool!)

So, he decided to come see him and make up,
forgive and forget (should be easy for both at their ages).
He lives in New Mexico.
(Why? I’ve driven through N.M. So, why??)
His car is a 1972 Plymouth, not in too good shape. (Duh!)
He drives all night straight through.
(Great! A geriatric driver with no sleep. He must have fit
right in with the rest of the drivers when he went through
the Fort Worth-Dallas metroplex. I’ve driven there, I know!)
His car dies on him (NOT a favorite expression around a hospital!),
dies on him just outside Shreveport.
He hitchhikes the rest of the way to the hospital,
rushes (okay, walks as fast as he’s able) up to see his brother.
His brother has recovered well, become more lucid, refuses to see him.
Now here he sits…rejected by his only sibling still alive,
no money, car broken down, yadda yadda yadda.

Jan is crying.
(I know we are in trouble.)
Jan announces that she isn’t going to lunch.
She is giving this poor man her lunch money.
She suggests we all do the same.
Nikki and John fork over their lunch money.
I cheerfully do the same.

Lunch out next Wednesday had better be better.
That’s all I have to say…

Harry Edward Gilleland      03.20.03