Step into the hallway. Who’s that, slowly shuffling towards you? Why, it looks like a seventy year old man! He’s on a walker, and he’s not moving super fast, but he’s doing it on his own, which is more than your dad is capable of right now.
Right across from your dad’s room is a handy kitchenette, where you can easily grab a little paper cup of water. Aside from providing essential hydration in the bleak Sonora Desert, this is the world’s greatest excuse to step out of your dad’s room for up to thirty seconds without feeling weird or awkward about your purposelessness. In this case, it provides all the excuse you need to engage this gentleman in conversation.
“How’s it going?”
“Not too good, not too bad.”
This is a marked improvement on your dad’s attitude, which, when inquired after, consists of a shrug and a low moan.
“What are you in for, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“Just a busted hip, that’s all.”
Interesting. A mere physical impracticality, necessitating some observation. This again is a marked contrast to your dad’s stay, which is due to malnourishment and heart damage after a prolonged period of alcoholic depression. Indeed, this man, despite his malady, is standing up more or less straight, with a wry grin and a gleam in his eye! We should all be so lucky as to share his attitude towards life. He even has the consideration to ask after the state of a total stranger.
“How about you?”
“What’s going on with him?”
“Ah, a bunch of stuff. Malnourishment, depression, scary heart stuff. Anyway, he’s broken. Will you be my dad now?”
Nobody wants to laugh at this kind of joke around here. This guy is no exception. He leans back, as if pushed, then narrows his eyes in concern.
“Aren’t they gonna…fix him?”
“Probably, I don’t know. The electrician says one thing, the mechanic says another, the nurses are working super hard but they’ve got too many customers and they don’t really know what the hell is going on with each one in particular. I’ve been waiting on my bag of peanuts for days now. So? Need a new son? Of a different ethnicity?”
A long pause.
“I think you should stick with your own dad, for now. Sounds like he needs you.”
“Meh. He’s mostly dozing. I’m just sitting in there with my laptop, making mean jokes on the internet. When a Doctor comes in, I immediately forget all the questions I was supposed to ask.”
“Do you have kids?”
“Better yet! My brother’s on the road, he’s hard to get a hold of. Sounds like your kids would be a huge improvement. Is one of them a dentist? I could use a dentist.”
This is the point when the man smiles, nods, and slowly backs away. Killed a good minute and a half! More tips tomorrow.