Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Elevator Observations Part 1

I love NPR. Yep, I admit it. Despite how ridiculously cool I seem, I am a self-proclaimed National Public Radio nerd. Interestingly, I can do without watching the news on television, but give me a few moments with Renee Montagne or Kai Ryssdal during my commute or while making dinner for my family, and I'm all good. Ask Harry- it's my favorite background noise after a long day at work. (Personally, I think this is the result of all the talk radio my mother tortured us with over the years which, now that I think of it, I am doing to my own children.)

So you would think that being an NPR junkie and all, most breaking news I get from NPR, right? A natural catastrophe? An icon unexpectedly dies? Surely it would be straight from my friends at WABE 90.1 before anyone else, right? Uhh. . . .try no. While it is true that I probably get most of my news from NPR, I kid you not, I have heard some of the biggest headlines of the last decade from folks on the elevators at Grady Hospital. No exaggeration.

"Hey doc! Somebody crashed a big a** airplane into a big a** building in New York City!" this disheveled gentleman proclaimed to me one early Tuesday morning in September 2001. Okay, so he didn't look like the most reliable news source in the world, but I bit. "What?" I replied with amusement, assuming that this patient was likely on his way to 13B, the Grady psychiatry destination. He could tell I didn't believe him. He opened his eyes wide, placed his right hand over his heart, and lifted the left high over his head. "I ain't lyin' doc! I'm for real! It was like a big a** airplane with like whole bunch of people on it!" I shook my head as we reached my floor and waved goodbye. As soon as I arrived in the clinic that morning, there was a big commotion. All of the staff and patients were glued to the waiting room television, mouths wide open. Not even two seconds after I joined the onlookers, the second plane plunged into the other tower of the World Trade Center. Wow, I remember thinking. That dude was telling the truth.

And that was the first of many. Other memorable Grady elevator bombshells include John Edwards pulling out of the Democratic presidential race, Whitney and Bobby getting divorced, and even who won this season's cycle of America's Next Top Model. Okay, maybe the Top Model thing is not huge news, but that depends on who you ask and it saved me a few minutes on Google. My point is that, without fail, you can always count on the elevators at Grady to give you the real scoop.

My latest one? A few weeks ago, I joined a Grady employee on the elevator. I was heading upstairs from the ground floor, and from the pungent smell of smoke, more than likely he was returning from a cigarette break. This gentleman was one of our patient transporters, so I saw him often. Usually chipper and friendly, this day he looked unusually sad. As any Grady doctor would, I said hello and then asked him if he was okay. I seemed to startle him out of some deep introspection. "My bad--how you doing today, Miss Manning? I'm sorry, I'm just still messed up over the news," he said solemnly. "Wait-what news?" I inquired, now believing virtually all Grady elevator reports. I feverishly pulled out my iPhone to confirm that President Obama was okay. "Michael Jackson. He died, doc. Died. They found him dead in his house. 50 years old." I covered my mouth with my hand in disbelief. He balled his fist, pumped it twice over his chest, and then pointed skyward. "R.I.P. Mike." The doors flew open and he walked out of the elevator.

So. . . now whenever I'm behind on my NPR or even need to simply know what happened on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, I just ride the elevator at Grady. And the good news is, since they always take so long, you never have to worry about getting only half the story!

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