The waiting room for the health-clinic ---one of the most devastating places I’ve been, and, yes, there are beautiful people here (a true American melting pot!), heroically trying to be stoic in the face of adversity. Chronic conditions, immediate injuries; we’re all here. Like many, I was sick and in pain before I came here, but after 5 hours of waiting I’m even sicker, and it’s contagious. For starts, there’s the others coughing, hacking, moaning, groaning holding onto bloody napkins, etc. It’s also the smells---since so many of us are homeless, it’s difficult to be clean (despite whatever immediate injury brought us here); the smells of rotting teeth, failing organs and decaying flesh. Ah some try to cover it up—with perfumes that are also toxic.
And if this bouillabaisse wasn’t enough, don’t forget the actual food. Sure, there are often signs saying “no food permitted,” but the smell of grease pervades the room. You can see people sucking on fast food “French” fries, often coated in catchup or mustard, or wolfing down burgers or chicken through greasy-soaked bags, hidden in purses. And of course there’s always a taco truck or two outside, or a vending machine with chocolate bars, and water you have to pay for (since the water fountains often don’t work, and the bathroom water fountains are rigged to make drinking out of them almost impossible (not that that would be incredibly healthy anyway, but given the options, it’s probably just about the least unhealthy thing here). The worst thing is; after 5 hours of this stuff, it gets harder and harder to resist the temptation; this food is designed to agitate the sense of smell and taste, and break down your resistances. especially when some guy next to you offers you a chicken wing. I’m resisting, but I want to scream--
It’s stuffy, and if you go out for a little, you never know if they’ll call your name in the meantime. Same thing if you try to catch a little sleep---even if I could in these chairs, and this environment. Once I decided to lie down in the corner, and I explained to the security guard that I can’t sit too long due to my condition, but of course they don’t provide beds or sofas in these waiting rooms. It’s hard enough finding a wall against which to stretch.
Well, I could always check out the TV; in fact, it’s hard to avoid the TV.-- and that usually doesn’t make things better. Often it’s these channels like “Healthnet.com” with attempts at feel good stories about health—many shows about food, and many more advertisements about all kind of pills, from so called “boutique” pills to so-called necessities.
So here I am, feeling myself getting sicker--and there’s still no sign that I will get to see a “healthcare professional”, who would then send me to another healthcare professional, and maybe eventually I’d find a dentist—though in the meantime I may be prescribed pills, similar to the same pills that contributed to my stoke. I once again, try to ask someone seen anytime soon, and there’s no direct answer. I leave. There’s got to be something else….even if it’s just sleep….if only I could find a quiet place to sleep.