Thursday, January 24, 2008


I had been lost in thought thinking about the various surgical problems plaguing my patients. I looked up from the sheet of paper in my hand and watched as the display above the doors counted down to one.

* ding! *

As the elevator doors open, I found myself being shoved aside as two little kids rushed in, both screaming "I WANNA PUSH THE BUTTON!! I WANNA PUSH THE BUTTON!!" repeatedly and as loud as they can.

The two people that were in the elevator exited, skirting around the children with a bewildered look on their faces. I let the mother, who's holding an infant in her arms and a purse big enough to conceal another child, enter the elevator, then I followed them all in.

One child is beet red and screaming bloody murder as he pummels the other. The other child is screaming as well, cowering in the corner and throwing wild kicks at her younger brother. Obviously, she got to push the button. Or buttons, I should say. Floors 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are all lit. I see that the rest of the buttons were out of reach.

I pressed 9 for my floor and moved towards an unoccupied corner, watching this scene with bemused indifference as the mother's attempt at peace negotiations failed miserably. When the circus act exited the elevator on the second floor my ears embraced the silence and my blood pressure started to come back down. A bit. Thanks to those little devils, I did have four unnecessary stops to make before getting to my floor.

As the doors were closing, a hand shot through the narrowing gap. The doors reopened reflexively and Tom, a fellow resident, entered.

After a mumbled greeting he looked at the buttons, paused a bit before pushing 11 for his floor, and then looked over at me, raising an eyebrow in silent inquiry.

What's there to say? I simply shrugged as the doors closed and we started our slow ascent.

At the fourth stop as the elevator doors opened purposelessly and then started to close, I guess Tom's curiosity just couldn't take it anymore.

Tom: Hey man, why did you push all these buttons?

Me: It wasn't me. It was these...


Me: I don't know. Nevermind.

Instead of an explanation, I simply shrugged again and looked down at my list of patients on the 9th floor. I smiled to myself, remembering days gone by with minimal responsibility when I myself had no other priority than getting to push a few buttons here and there.

As the doors opened on my floor, I shouldered up my patient responsibilities and walked towards the room of my first patient.