Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Finish Line? Nope, that's police tape.

It was the Sunday before Jameson’s last Block in semester one and the Anatomy Shelf. Grey and I had only seen him a total of 3 hours in the past 4 days.  Even though I knew he was busy cramming countless factoids into his brain, each time I saw Ja I questioned the naming convention of the SHELF. Despite my Googling efforts, I couldn’t figure out where the name came from. Jameson, completely unconcerned with this, always answered, “Wife, I don’t know nor do I care. It’s a comprehensive exam. Be happy with that.”  Clearly in the time we weren’t spending together, he’d forgotten how minutia made me happy and kept me running.

It was almost 8:30AM and Grey and I were heading into Phillipsburg to run some errands. Well, I was going to run errands and scratch items off of my endless list. Grey would probably watch a movie on his iTouch or stare out the window of our island hooptie. I slipped on my Tevas, grabbed my shades and hollered for Grey to hurry up. I wanted to make it to Cost-U-Less, our would-be Costco, before the rush. Given the constant traffic on the island and lack of stoplights, it would take at least an hour to go the 14 miles.

Sitting the in car with Grey laughing at ‘Hot Fuzz’, we had just exited the infamous Golf Course and were stopped in the middle of the intersection in Maho. I looked to my left and saw a guy on the ground. Not moving.  Blood, an ambulance less EMT’s, 3 coppers standing over the body talking and police tape in a disorganized fashion strewn across 2 light poles signified the event. People were gathered about 10 feet from the guy, with blood on him as noted previously.

“Oh, shit, Mom! Do you see that?” Grey asked yanking the earbuds from his ears and leaning across me to get a better look.

What the… ?!? Traffic started to move so I moved along with it. Did I really just see a dead guy in the road? Why were there so many people around gawking? Why wasn’t he covered up?

“Mom, did you see that? Dude was dead. I’m calling Kyle when we get home. He’s gonna shit,” Grey said, pleased that he’d just witnessed this comedy of errors on the side of the road.

“First of all, watch your mouth. Secondly, you’re not going to call Kyle. Taffi just got Max to agree to take a cruise here and if you tell Kyle they’ll never come visit. We’ll talk to your dad about this after his Block exams are over.”

Allowing Grey to be the one to tell Jameson placated him enough to agree to not spill to Kyle.  I, however, was going to figure out what we’d just seen.

Mental Checklist:  go to internet and Favorite the Daily Herald website for SXM. This HAS TO hit the paper. Oh, and look for swimsuits that give your breasts a visible lift. The perkiness of the 20 something crowd was killing me.

The following morning Grey was at school, Jameson was on campus studying for his Block and I was heading toward Simpson Bay Pharmacy. The store had so many brands that I recognized from The States that I made a special trip at least once a month. I was sitting behind an endless row of cars when drivers started buzzing past me in the opposite lane – toward oncoming traffic that wasn’t coming due to construction. I figured I’d give it a shot. After all, I only had about 25 feet to drive to make it to the entrance of the pharmacy.  No sooner had I pulled out into the NOT oncoming traffic then I was flagged to the pharmacy parking lot – by a St. Maarten Dutch police officer.

“Shit, shit, shit, “ I mumbled to myself while pulling into the parking lot. I noticed there were several cars I recognized. These were the cars that had buzzed past me. Score one for the Dutch coppers for setting up a sting operation.

2 men approached my island hooptie. One stood at the hood while the other tapped on the passenger window. I pushed the button to operate the auto-window and asked, “Hi, there. I’m guessing you want to see my license?”

The officer nodded and then I saw the other cop stroll to the car to my right. Ohmuhgawd! Copper just took a wad of cash from the driver and waved her on. Was I about to participate in some quasi-illegal activity? Can you actually pay police in St. Maarten without getting carted off to the big house?  Is it called “the big house” here or was that strictly a ‘Cagney and Lacey’ or ‘Magnum PI’ thing?  My pulse was racing, but then I started to think about Tracey Ullman as Frenchy Winkler and I started giggling. A nervous giggle – the copper noticed.  As the other officer came back, pockets filled, they both reviewed my license and insurance and let me go because I was “legitimate”. I wasn’t sure if that was really the case, or if my nervousness made them nervous. Either way, I was out of there.  I drove home without going to the pharmacy and mulled over my past two experiences with the St. Maarten police.  

The next 3 days passed in a haze. Jameson took his final Block Exams and passed. He passed his Anatomy Shelf with flying colors. I quizzed him on the name. Again. No answer. We were all enjoying a bit of downtime before Mitch and Jameson’s mom came to visit for the holiday when I happened upon the story online regarding the dead guy in the road. Apparently he had died of “natural causes” per the Dutch police, but an independent investigation from the French side discovered that he died of a gunshot wound to the chest. I wasn’t sure what part of GSW could be considered “natural”, but I didn’t want to find out.

First semester was officially over.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Colonel & Smokey McPot

With the increasingly frequent outages of water and internet in our condo, I’d been taking trips over to the AUC campus to work from the cafeteria. Yes, it smelled like stale soup and yogurt but it did have free Wi-Fi and an abundance of power outlets.  If I chewed peppermint gum the entire time I could almost ignore the smell. 

Sitting at my regular corner table each day allowed me to work in relative privacy and people watch the 4th and 5th semesters that frequented the cafeteria during my normal work hours.  Today was no different. At the table directly to my right sat a group of students I’d seen every day for the past two weeks and they were discussing that mornings ICM’s.  Hearing them laugh and make fun of the guy in the striped shirt, I started to listen.

Striped shirt guy, “Everything was going fine until she started talking about the fried chicken.”

Huh? I now deemed this kid Fried Chicken Guy – much more appealing.

Kid in the hat, “What about the fried chicken? Was that even in the script?”

When the medical students practiced interviewing patients, the ‘patients’ worked off a script with very specific details about their complaints to help students get ready for what would someday be real patients.

Fried Chicken Guy, “No, man. She told me that she’s got pain in her chest that radiates and I started thinking angina. But, then she said it gets worse when she eats fried chicken.”

The other students sat in silence, and so did I, waiting to hear where this was going.

Fried Chicken Guy, “I asked her if it was homemade fried chicken, if it came from KFC or if it was from some other place on the island. I got so hung up on the chicken that I lost track of the time and then I hear the knock on the door signaling my interview is over.  Bomb.  No clinical decision.”

While the Fried Chicken Guys friends laughed at him, I could totally relate. If someone started talking to me about soy lattes my mind would spin out of control and I’d temporarily forget where I was.  I packed up my stuff and headed down to the guard shack.  Hopefully I’d catch Ja on his way to anatomy lab.

I was sitting on the bench waiting and I could hear students talking about yesterday’s Block Exam. Jameson had one more Block Exam and then an Anatomy Shelf and he’d be done with first semester. Apparently exam three was surprising for many med students – or so I heard as they rushed past me. I had no idea what any of the classes were because the names all sounded the same. Ology this and XYZ that.  Two guys walked up and stepped just in front of me to discuss the latest block scores.

Guy A was explaining to Guy B, “Dude, I failed my XYZ block. That shit was reedic.”

Mental Checklist: Urban Dictionary reedic. Is that supposed to mean ridiculous in young trendy urbanite?

Guy B, “What, dude? No.”

Guy A, “Yeah, dude. I failed. Gonna have to take this class again, dude.”

Guy B, “Dude. You failed.”

Guy A, “Yeah, dude, that’s what I said.”

I was listening to Smokey McPot and Johnny Potsmoker. This was literally an episode of ‘Dude, Where’s My Car’ meets Medical School.   I would have laughed except that I knew how much school cost and that just made me sad for Smokey.

That moment Ja rounded the corner in his scrubs talking to a couple of his classmates. I caught his eye and he slowed down only to tell me he couldn’t talk because they were all heading to BB’s, the local watering hole, to study what was up next in lab.  At some point he’d mastered eating right before anatomy lab. Don’t know how that happened, I looked at one photo of a hand in his book and couldn’t eat chicken for two weeks.  I sighed and headed back to our condo crossing my fingers that the internet was back up. Medical school was busy but successful for my husband and the adjustment for me was only becoming a bigger pain in the ass.

Mental Checklist: What would Tracey do? Dance.  Google island dance studios, start class and get out of my funk. This MISadventure is wearing on my pocketbook and my nerves. Oh, and buy some Nutella. That hazelnut goodness is ‘reedic!