Don't Forget You're On a Stage


When there isn’t a patient in a room, we usually turn off the lights in the room and leave the door open. When patients are in the room, the lights are on and the doors are shut. Just a habit. You can see how busy it is (i.e. “what you’re in for”) by the number of rooms with lights on when you’re walking up to the ED at the start of your shift.

Not too long ago there were several rooms with their lights off. The rooms with patients had their doors closed. We were all caught up on our work and we sat around talking. This is usually about the time when silly things start to happen. Maybe one of us will bust out into song. Or we’ll argue about who’s the biggest dork in the latest issue of People magazine. Maybe someone will get squirted with a syringe full of water and a clandestine water fight will break out. Sometimes we crowd around a computer screen to watch YouTube videos.

This particular night, Tom, one of the registered nurses, was acting like he had been drinking at a holiday party. There was some rap song on the radio and he started shaking his thang and dancing. We all laughed. Then he grabbed a couple of Hershey kisses sitting on the desk and put them up to his chest like nipples. He kept dancing and laughing, worked his way over to one of the other nurses, put one of the Hershey’s kisses up to the nurse’s face, and asked her in a loud voice if she “wanted a bite.”

It was only then that Tom noticed the migraine patient in the dark room across the hall sitting bolt upright in bed with her husband and child standing next to her all looking at him with mouths agape.

Tom went on his dinner break immediately afterwards.

I think he had one Hershey’s kiss left for dessert.


  1. Thank you for that! He must have been dying a thousand deaths. Absolutely hilarious and reminds me of the funny moments with our ER staff. More so before we moved upstairs and before another corporation took over. My joke when people asked what it was like to work there was when it’s crazy you work really hard and when it’s not they’re (staff)crazy and it reminded me of M.A.S.H. because boy could they play a prank or do something. I honestly thought we were the only ER that would have water fights…also saline wars with those little vials, whip cream or snowballs getting lobbed at someone down the hall. One of the ER docs was also a doc in Staten Island and he told me once that he had never seen a hospital where the employees in the entire hospital all cared about each other. One morning they played a joke on this doc when he came on. The hospital merged with a catholic corporation and for some reason the ER had a life size cardboard nun (advertising?) and so they put her in a stretcher in the ortho room, hooked an IV up to her and told him he needed to get in to see the pt in that room. It cracked him up. 🙂

    A really awkward moment happened once due to sad circumstances. When a code was called they would sometimes come in the room and say “Where’s the party?” as a way of diffusing the stress obviously. Well, one morning in response to a code being called an ER nurse bursts into the cardiac room and loudly says’ “Where’s the party?” only to see the relative of the coding person near by. They stopped doing that from that point on and she felt so bad.

    Did anyone explain anything to the audience or was that something better left alone? Sounds like it spiced up their wait time a bit. 🙂

    This was my first real laugh for the day squeaking out of me. I have the mother of all URIs (says me) and I have to tell you that even though I know better…I AM fantasizing about antibiotics. 🙂

  2. on those nice slow nights (don’t dare say the Q word since it would probably jinx us all even on the internet). What kind of youtube videos does your staff enjoy watching? For us, it usually become crazy cat antics and occasionally “stupid people” – you know, BMX riders, skateboarders, kids who think they can jump off roofs unharmed. Other nights, has a selection of these types of videos. Just wondering what others out there crowd around and enjoy.

  3. Ha ha. If I were the patient witnessing that, I would have been pissed because laughing at him would have made my migraine worse (you know, after I stopped laughing and remembered I had it). Humor is the best medicine!

  4. reminds me of the time when one of the nurses came over to me and told me that one of our patient had commented that i was not serious enough for a doctor. i have a habit of clowning around when i think that no patients are looking. well i guess they are always looking!

  5. Hospital sounds like so much fun! As long as I’m not the one in the bed 🙁 That moment must have been awkward. I live in Korea, and I can’t imagine that kind of dancing going on in a room. Funny 🙂

  6. Our fav. thing to do at night when things are slow is to watch old Dave Chappelle clips on youtube. We always get a good kick outta doin that.

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