I was sitting on a park bench some years ago, enjoying a nice summer day while taking a break from a hospital visit. I don’t remember why I was there, but there was a lovely park across the street and I decided to take my lunch under the maple trees. The area was filled with hospital employees, so I figured I’d be safe.
All was going fine until a woman dressed in a business suit came and sat down on the opposite side of the bench. She was carrying a rather large tote. She didn’t look homeless, just odd. Odd like even though she was at the opposite end of the bench, it felt like she was right up against me. The bench as facing the hospital and I figured this was a good time to go back, but traffic was rather heavy, it being lunchtime, so I sat there waiting for a chance to make my departure. Then something strange happened. Her phone was apparently ringing, I didn’t hear it ring, but she did. She started muttering and rifling through her tote bag. “Hold on!” “I’m coming!” She said, rather loudly.
Why was this strange? Three reasons. One, it was the eighties, two, the woman produced from her tote a pink princess landline phone and became to talk and three, none of the hospital employees were paying a bit of attention to her. It was surreal. If it had been a cell phone, everything would have seemed quite normal, as her conversation was very animated and intense. She was clearly concerned about someone. However, even in this day and age, what happened next was certainly not normal. As I got up to leave, as any person would at this point, she grabbed my arm, and without looking at me, said, “I’ll be with you in a minute.” Now, I was in her world. How did I get here, and more importantly, how do I get out? I was staring at the hospital across the street. All I had to do was stand up and walk across. I tried again. She grabbed harder! “I SAID, I WILL BE WITH YOU IN A MINUTE!” she was very perturbed and was now telling her “friend”, all about me. This was getting scary. So I watched the traffic for a quick escape. Finally, there it was, a break in the traffic. I bolted across the street like a horse out of the starting gate! I had made it across, no thanks to all the hospital staff, who’s eyes I was trying to catch.
Once inside, I told the security guard about my ordeal. He asked if I wanted to press charges, as he would have to call the police. I said no, I was a bit unnerved, but I had to get back to my business. He said his job was just in the hospital grounds and the city owned the park. In was of no matter, but I found it curious and a bit disturbing that no one in the health care system was at all concerned with the woman in the park talking on the pink princess landline phone.