Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Ugly Blouse
I'm posting an older story about an incident that occurred while I was a nurse at Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania for two people. One person  at church today  asked if I posted stories from the hospital and another asked about a necktie and I shared this story with her. The post should satisfy both.
Nancy, a statuesque blond, was one of the switchboard operators. (She was the operator who volunteered to stay over when the hospital was struck by lightning. Thanks Nancy.) She was a friendly person who was quick to laugh and always ready to help. Because the switchboard was in a part of the hospital where there were limited phone to use, I would step inside to use the phones there. She was on duty when I stepped inside to answer a page.

When I had finished talking, I said, “That’s a nice blouse, Nancy.”

The blouse was black with multiple, vibrantly colored geometric shapes.

“What, this old thing?” she snapped.

I was taken aback. I had never seen Nancy short tempered. I thought it was something that I had said. I tried again. I had only meant to compliment her. “I just meant it was pretty. I didn’t mean anything also other that it was a nice blouse.”

“I’ll tell you what,” she said. “If you think it’s pretty, I’ll give it to you for your wife!”

I was exasperated. I guess she took the compliment the wrong way. “It was a compliment. I don’t want your blouse. I thought it was nice.” I turned and left before she could say more.

I forgot about the whole incident until Nancy’s wicked sense of humor came home to roost at Christmas. A few days before the actual holiday, I stopped by the switchboard. Nancy was on duty. She said wait. I have something for you.”

She bent over to her side and groped inside her carryall. Pulling out a long, thin box that was covered in bright Christmas wrapping paper and a big red bow, she said, “This was for you. Go ahead and open it.” She gave me the box.

I didn’t think anything unusual. I worked closely with the people at the switchboard. All the calls, pages, and searching for telephone numbers created a bond. They had a small tabletop Christmas tree. I would buy a small gift for each of them and stick it under the tree. (I always personalized the gifts, buying things I knew they liked. For two it was elephants, another liked memorabilia for Princess Dianna of Great Britain, and one angels etc.) So I initially thought that it was a gift because I had bought one for her.

As I reached out for the gift, she said, “Go ahead. Open it now.”

I placed my census sheets on the desk and pulled off the ribbon. I could see her smiling as I started to rip off the paper off the flat folded box.

It was light. The carton was about five inches wide and about twenty inches in length.

I have ties for all occasions. Some ties I have purchased and some that friends in the hospital found for me. Patients and staff seemed to like seeing me wear them. I was thinking that it was another tie for my collection.

It was a tie and what a tie it was. There in the box was Nancy’s blouse, repurposed as a neck tie. It was the blouse I told her that looked nice. I was tongue tied. (That in itself was unusual.) I held the tie up into place in front of my shirt. The black blouse with the vivid colors was now a tie. She had found someone to redo that blouse and sew it into this neck tie.

Nancy said, “I told you I was going to give you that blouse. She looked at the tie held up to my chest and said, “Damn! That blouse looks better as a tie than it did as a blouse.

Nancy has passed away now. I still have the tie. Even before she retired, I would wear that tie for New Year’s Eve. The black cravat looked great against a bright yellow shirt or a deep purple shirt. Black trousers completed my New Year’s Eve attire. I only wear it once a year. Thank you, Nancy!.

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