We had finished treating a middle aged woman for vomiting and a migraine headache. She was discharged from the emergency department. When her husband went to get the car, I pushed her out under the covered canopy seated in a wheelchair. I stood alongside her, watching as a car approached. It drove up the inclined driveway and under the portcullis, the overhead lights of the parking lot reflected off the glass surface to reveal that the whole wind shield was spider webbed with tiny cracks running from one side of the car to the other.
When the car stopped near the wheelchair, I moved the woman closer to the car to help her. I opened the passenger’s door for her to climb inside. As I lifted the latch and pulled the door open, it dropped about one half inch on its hinges. I held onto it, making sure that it wasn’t going to fall off and to be absolutely sure it wasn’t going to crush my toes.
Now for the big surprise, when I looked inside, the front passenger’s seat was an apple crate turned upside down with a burlap sack thrown over it. I couldn’t say anything. I was in complete shock.
You learn early as a nurse, not to say anything that might insult a patient. I managed to keep my mouth shut and help the woman from the wheel chair onto her “seat”. I pulled the wheelchair away from the car and slowly inched the car door shut. When I reached about the last two inches, I lifted on the door handle a bit and pushed the car door shut. I was afraid to slam it. I didn’t want to have it fall off, jam, or have window fall out.
As the car pulled away and I turned to go back into the emergency room with the wheelchair, I saw a movement out of the corner of my eyes. I turned to look. The tail light had fallen out of the back end of the car’s fender and was resting on the rear bumper. The wires were still attached and the tail light was still burning. I just shook my head not believing what I had just witnessed and went back inside.
Once I had stowed the wheelchair, I told the other nurses in the emergency room what had just happened. One of the nurses asked, as she began to laugh “Did you fasten her seatbelt?”
I turned and said to her, “You know, I tied that binder twine as tight as I could!”
Later, that evening I was talking to one of the guards and when I mentioned the car. He told me, “I was talking to the driver while he was in the waiting area. He said ‘I know I shouldn’t be driving that car. It is in really bad shape, but my wife was sick and didn’t have anything else to drive.’”