Wednesday, October 06, 2010
There's this gawd-awful show on the tele at the moment called Undercover Boss, whereby some corporate high-flyer dons the company duds and goes and stands alongside his unknowing minions at the cash register, or behind the wheel, or digging ditches (not, I notice, cleaning toilets!). I must confess I haven't watched this show, but judging by the ads, it seems that each episode ends up as a heart-warming, gut-wrenching, tear-jerking sob-fest as the Boss' ice-cold, ass-kicking corporate drive is melted in the face of the hard-luck stories and sheer anguish of his employees, with their terminally-ill kiddies, their animal shelters and their community service to struggling migrants. Big Boss gets a free lesson in the "real values of humanity", and proceeds to handover cash and hand-out promotions as reward for their previously unrecognised, selflessness.
Honestly Channel 10, as if The 7PM Project wasn't bad enough!
Anyway, although not the boss of anyone or anything (and for good reason), I have recently found myself as Undercover Donkey in my workplace, but the only tears being jerked on this occasion were my own tears of excruciating pain and/or embarrassment.
I work on a hospital campus, and although I'm pretty far removed from the patients during my work day (again, for very good reason), I do skip-along to the horrors of the hospital cafeteria for lunch most days. Now aside from the absolutely disgusting food that is served-up, the trouble with having lunch at a hospital caf is that you're sitting down to a plate of greasy, oily, barely-edible fare with a bunch of people carrying just about every communicable disease known to ape and man.
And the thing about hospital patients sitting down to a feed beside or across the table from you is that they're usually "wearing" hospital garments. Why the inverted commas, I hear you ask? Well because the thing about hospital garments is that ... well, they just aren't that conducive to being "worn".
Take the old man in the wheelchair who sat opposite me today. He was attired in a pair of hospital-issue, one-size-fits-all pyjama pants – you know, the ones with the massive fly that leaves his Old Fella hanging out for all to admire. I'm telling you, a sight like that can really put you off your rather limp, hospital cafeteria bratwurst!
And the same goes for those poor folk who come down from the wards wearing nothing but one of those white hospital gowns that "do up" at the back (inverted commas again, as there's a lot of space between those tie-up straps). So again, try tucking into your hospital cafeteria carpaccio when some homeless-looking man's hairy arse-crack is winking at you through the substantial chink in the starched, white curtains!
Like most aspects of the public hospital system, one finds oneself coping with these kinds of horrors with humorous attacks on the kinds of people these semi-brain dead patients must be to get around in such an undignified fashion.
But then, I became one ... twice! And I soon learned that their lack of dignity is not self-generated, but rather a dastardly bi-product of a cruel, uncaring public hospital system.
The first time I experienced this was during the birth of Lil' Hambones. When Mrs Donkey was kitted-up in smart-looking, green, ER-type hospital scrubs and sent off to theatre, I was thrown a pair of white overalls by a midwife and told (with a barely-concealed smirk) that they were one-size-fits-all.
Uh oh! That phrase again ... one of two, standard features of all hospital-issue attire ... the other being that said attire can't be done-up. So there I stood, in a tight, white, full-body suit, successfully parting my testicles in the kind of camel toe you'd expect to see on a deformed camel with a congenital, cleft toe, and just above these separated global hemispheres, the suit opened out, right to my shoulders! Honestly, I looked like a cross between a young Sean Connery and Borat in his mankini.
"You're taking this piss!", I remarked to the midwife in a quivering falsetto, to which the sadistic bitch giggled that it was all they had and we had better get to theatre immediately. T'was a good thing that the hoary old chestnuts had done their work, for they mayn't be the same again after the birth of Lil' Hambones.
And then again this week, I became Undercover Donkey, and again I came to have my heart softened towards my fellow demented, semi-clad diners. This time I was heading back to theatre to have the scar left over from the removal of my festering alien parasite removed. By the time I got to theatre, I was delusional from not having eaten (or more to the point, not having drunk coffee) for about twenty hours, so I didn't really take much notice of what they dressed me in before sending me off to the knife.
But when I awoke afterwards, with the usual early morning, post-slumber, anatomical male processes unfolding downstairs, I was mortified to discover that the smiling, caring, and not-unattractive recovery nurse by my side had been witness to the whole depraved scene thanks to my having been attired in hospital-issue, so-called "disposable underpants" which when adorned, being one-size-fits-all, was tantamount to wearing a tube of stretched, translucent, elastic gauze.
So no heart-warming, gut-wrenching story from this Undercover Donkey! These hospital linen services are completely taking the piss! It's a breach of patient dignity ... a breach of human-bloody-rights! As they say in the States, I'm taking this all the way to City Hall!
These old folk in big pyjama pants deserve better!
These homeless folk in poorly-fastened gowns deserve better!
And these recovery nurses definitely deserve better!
It's time to take a stand against this blatant disregard for patients' dignity. C'mon Julia Gillard. C'mon Barak Obama. C'mon Ban Ki-moon. Give us zips! Give us Velcro! Give us buttons! And please, give us something in our size!