Thursday, February 28, 2019

Keep it to yourself.

I was sitting at the nurses' station typing notes the other morning. One patient caregiver with curly hair pulled into a puff on top of her head was standing at the printer. Another patient caregiver wearing rather tight scrubs walked up holding some IV bags and tubing. I knew them both well so looked up, smiled, and returned to my charting.

Scrubs: "Hey girl."
CurlyPuff: "Hey. This printer is tripping."
Scrubs: "Turn it off and on again. That's what I do."
CurlyPuff: "Okay, cool."

CurlyPuff shut off the device and waited for it to turn back on. She stood there with her hand on her hip looking impatient. It was clear that she was busy and a faulty computer was throwing a speed breaker down in her flow. She sighed. I glanced up from my seat at her briefly in solidarity because I knew exactly that feeling.

Scrubs: "You know what? You look tired."
CurlyPuff: "Tired?"
Scrubs: "Yeah. You look tired."
CurlyPuff: "You mean like sleepy?"
Scrubs: "No. Like. . .tired. Like I'm looking at you and thinking, 'You look tired.'"

CurlyPuff turned her body away from the printer in Scrubs direction and just stared at her for a moment. Her face made it clear that she didn't care for that observation.

Here we go.

Scrubs: "I say it out of concern."
CurlyPuff: "That I look tired? Not sleepy but tired?"
Scrubs: "Yeah."

CurlyPuff keeps staring at Scrubs. She looked up and down at her without expression, blinked slowly and sighed again. Then she spoke back.

CurlyPuff: "You look like you gained weight."
Scrubs: "What?" *looking embarrassed*
CurlyPuff: "You do. Like I'm looking at you and thinking, 'Your scrubs are getting tight. You look like you gained weight.'"

Oh snap.

Scrubs: *looking offended* "Wow. Remind me to never say anything to you."
CurlyPuff: "No. Remind yourself never to walk up to a woman, look her in the face and say something like that. At least, not like that. That she look tired? Not sleepy but tired?" *shook her head and patted the side of the printer*
Scrubs: "I was saying it out of concern."
CurlyPuff: "Just 'cause you think it don't mean it need to be said. What I said to you was something I thought before. And it could be out of concern, too."

Oo wee.

Scrubs: *speechless*
CurlyPuff: *putting arm around Scrubs* "Look, baby. That just ain't the thing a woman can receive in a way that make her feel better. Nor do it make a woman feel good to hear that--especially coming from another woman. That she look tired? Naw. Just ask how I'm doing. See about my needs if you concerned. But don't walk up on the hall and announce out loud that I look across-the-board tired. That didn't make me feel good."
Scrubs: "I'm sorry."
CurlyPuff: "Me, too, girl."

They hugged it out. And after that, the printer started working again, too.

Damn. I love this job.


*For the record, I'm not a fan of being told one looks tired either. Honorable mention: "Fun" to describe hair, clothing or anything else that you were being dead serious about when you put it on.



  1. Oh god. This reminded me of once when I was in nursing school and I told a friend and fellow student of mine that she looked tired.
    "I'm not wearing make-up," she said.
    I sort of learned my lesson on that one.

  2. When we were moving my mother in law into assisted living, and had to remove 35 years worth of stuff from her house, and were working like dogs, she looked me right in the face and told me I looked tired. I said I was tired, and then she said it again. At that point I asked her to stop (nicely) because everybody knows that's code for "you look like crap." Life has taught me not to ask women if they're tired or pregnant, no no no.

  3. I said that to an US tech once, out of concern. She went up one side of me and down the other. She tore me a new one in front of her patient. I was shocked because I hadn't meant to be rude, I was trying to commiserate with her. Learned my lesson.


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