Yet, the gait retained its swagger that only a Hospital Intern could pull off. His gaze went up at the speck of blue sky in his line of sight as he gazed up at the New O. P. D. building that had risen from the old, darn bones of a mortuary, so many years back. The entrance was busy as usual at this time of the morning and men, women and children dredged their persons up the stairs, some scared, some with an air of finality and some with ease developed due to habit and familiarity. There was also a constant flux of white apron-draped, irritated, breathing in the busy air around their head and hurrying doctors, first-year residents usually, while those with a more confident attitude were the interns and the final-year residents, both having seen, breathed and accepted the New Hospital environment.
They knew the place and the place knew them.
Wearing a formal, checkered shirt and brown jeans with a black belt, with a worn yet clean apron placed casually on his left arm and an old college backpack slung on his right shoulder, the Intern climbed up the familiar steps, while cleaning up his glasses using a handkerchief. Blowing the dust from the glasses, he put them back on and gave a lazy smile to himself while he wiped his slightly sweaty hands on his jeans, readying himself for a showdown.
For a showdown, it had to be.
The exams were approaching and the posting-of-the month was the heaviest and the most important of all the Internship Training Postings. In this background, he was determined to get away with the bare minimum work possible so as to get enough time to study.
Yup, Medicine Posting will have to be compromised.
The place had shifted from the last time he had the need to visit the Medicine O. P. D. and that was about two months ago. The old O. P. D. building was too congested and had an air of uncomfortable incompleteness that had always made him feel that the patients were getting inadequate attention.
He hoped the new O. P. D. was more spacious and airy.
It was the last thing on his mind, though and he was concentrating more on the meeting that had to take place in a few minutes from now.
Reaching the first floor by the stairs near the entry door, he made his way to the Medicine O. P. D. in front of him, observing the people around him. No one paid the slightest interest in him, which suited him at the moment. Entering his destination, he saw that the waiting area was full and there were too many rooms than he had expected. He couldn’t care which room to go, though; he just wanted to avoid one particular room where the one particular final-year resident he wished to avoid was placed. Locating the nurse’s station, he made his way there and asked of one, “Howdy! Good Morning, Staffie! Would’ya happen to know where Dr. House or Dr. Wilson will be safely seated in their warm chairs looking at patients, them being final year residents’ an’all that shit?”
Now, the nurses or ‘Staffies’ and ‘Sisters’ as they are much preferred to be called as, are a tough bunch and will not tolerate your nonsense. You go up on the wrong side of one and you will be paying the shit out of your piece of mind for the rest of your posting. Everyone knew to keep their tones polite, respectful and friendly with the nurses and your workplace will be all the more peaceful.
The Staff Nurse looked at the Intern with a critical eye and responded with a shrug, “Well stranger, I hain’t a clue as to where yer Dr. Registrars will be at, except for one of ’em rooms to the right and to the left, one being for the Ladies and the other for the Gentlemen with ailments that need looking-to. I am new here, too and I now need to have my cuppa to get through my day, so if you hain’t got anything more to say, I suggest you be a gentleman and make yer way to the right or to the left and inquire of yer them Dr. Registrars!”
She sat down and gave no more mind to the Intern, who was not surprised by the failed inquiry. He knew this place too well.
Knowing that he was out on his own now, he gave a final look at the room and went to the male O. P. D.
He peered inside and saw two residents looking at patients. One of them was definitely a Registrar, better groomed, more fresh and with an air of authority while the other was a First-year, more shabbily dressed, irritated, tired-looking and more subdued. Tired of the wait, he pushed himself inside the room and made his way to the Registrar.
He hoped it wasn’t Dr. House, whom he wanted to avoid. The word was that he was more intolerant of interns.
He stood in front of the Registrar and said, “Howdy!”
The Registrar looked up, startled.
The Intern smiled and looking him in the eye, said, ‘It would please ya’ all to know that I am the new Intern posted in your Unit, as of today and I will be rendering my services to this Unit for a period of one month.”
The Registrar took a moment to digest this information. Then asked, “Yer doin’ this posting, then?”
The Intern smiled and made his way to the chair next to the First-year Houseman and said to him, “Howdy!”
The Houseman looked up at the Intern. He opened his mouth to respond but shut it again. He then asked, “Yer doin’ this posting, then?”
The Intern sat carefully on the chair, kept the bag down and got comfortable, before allowing himself the luxury to speak.
“Well, sirs, I am not usually one to shirk work an ‘all, but in light of this annual predicament that Interns face this time of the year, which ya’ll would know due to the fact ya’ll fine gentlemen were ones yerself, not so long ago, too, if I may remind ya. In light of such a situation, it would be most appropriate for me to inform ya that I intend to do only the emergency and the post-emergency days and that too, at the cost of my two fine and bright sunny working days per week, I must say.”
The Intern then gazed expectantly at the two residents.
They looked at him in a daze.
The Houseman recovered first and said, “Now lookey-‘ere, kid. Ye can’t barge in here and come all cocky and tell us what ye can do and what ye can’t do. That’s fer us to decide, kid!”
The Registrar nodded in agreement. “You don’t set the rules here, kid. We do.”
The Intern then asked, “Well, let’s hear what y’all think how I should carry on with my this here posting.”
The Registrar looked at the Houseman and the Houseman winked and said, smiling, “Kid, you are gonna do us those pre-emergencies, emergencies, post-emergencies and co-emergencies. And not a day less.”
The grin on the Registrar’s face said it all.
The Intern looked at the tip of his brown shoes then looked dead in the eyes of the Registrar. He smiled and said, “Sorry to disappoint you folks, but I ain’t doin’ nothing beyond emergencies and post-emergencies and you darn well better accept it.”
The silence that followed was like that after a crack of a whip.
The patients in the room began to slip away. They realized that things were going to get real ugly, real fast….
The Residents looked at the Intern furiously.
The Registrar got up and shouted, “Listen ye, kid! I have been dealin’ with young cocky fools of Interns like ye fer the last three years! Ye gonna do every darn day of the week that we listed in front of yer false, fat nose and ye gonna do it real quietly. I ain’t gonna take any shit from ye, city boy! I am the Senior Resident of this Unit and yer just an Intern posted here. Ye will work under me and not with me. This Unit ain’t big enough fer the both of us.”
It was the Intern’s turn to speak.
He pushed the chair behind, lifted his white-washed apron, slung his backpack and got up. In a calm but even tone and still looking dead in the Registrar’s eyes he said, “I ain’t doing any shit beyond emergencies and post-emergencies. Y’all require an Intern in the E. M. S. to save your behinds and stop yerselves from crying like li’l lost girls in the middle of a zoo with broken cages and no guards. I ain’t gonna waste three days of my every week of this here posting on ye God-forgotten fools like yerselves. I am stating my final offer, take it and let’s sit down like gentlemen or all y’all gonna see is my arse and I ain’t coming back!”
Saying so, he began making his way towards the door.
The coin was flung in the air. Now, all one had to look at was how it was going to fall. Heads or Tails.
The Intern had not taken two steps forward, when someone cried, “Stop! Where d’ya think ye are going?”
The Intern looked back at them and said, “I have said my piece, gentlemen and I think y’all have said yers. I ain’t interested in fighting ye over it. Too much blood has been spilled for lesser reasons and I ain’t gonna contribute to this stubborn stupidity anymore. Either take it or lose it, but remember, once I am through that door, I ain’t ever comin’ back and y’all be spending one month in the E. M. S., all alone….”
The Intern turned back but before he could take another step forward, the Registrar said, “Alright, kid. No need to threaten us all like that.”
The Registrar looked defeated. He looked at the Intern and said, “Ye can have those darn emergencies and post-emergencies only. Just don’t disappear when ye ain’t supposed to, while here. Now sit ‘ere and look at some patients.”
The Intern swaggered his way to the chair and placed his arse on it. “Thank Ye, kind sirs. I am looking much forward to working with y’all for the month.”
With the showdown over, he called in his first patient.