05 May 2009

In The Interest Of Patient Care.

So in order to maintain my highly glamorous student baller lifestyle (Nissan Altima on 17s, son, what!!), I've been working part-time over the weekends in the hospital. My main job duties include transporting both emergency room patients and inpatients from their rooms to the CT department if they need to be scanned per physician orders. It's not a particularly difficult job -- the hardest part is moving the patient from their bed to the CT table and back, especially if they're of the bariatric persuasion. The hours are good and I definitely get to meet some interesting people (who just happen to be having bad days).

Not that it surprised me much, but this past weekend I was again reminded of the cultural differences here in the Midwest as opposed to the coast(s) with regard to exposure to different ethnicities. The CT department was a bit busy, with orders for head, chest and abdomen scans steadily pouring in from the ER. To help catch up and stay ahead of the pace, I went and got a patient for transport early so he could be scanned immediately after the last one was finished.

He seemed like a nice enough older gentleman, kind of quirky and a little out of it due to the chest pains he was having. But he was pleasant enough as I walked into his room, introduced myself and informed him that I'd be taking him down to CT. I like to make light conversation to put the patients at ease and more comfortable with the situation, so as I pushed his bed along the corridors, talk turned to his previous stays at the hospital and the radiographic exams he'd already had.

"So, have you ever had a CT scan before?" I asked.

He thought for a minute. "That's not like an MRI, is it?"

"No ... CTs are pretty quick and you're not trapped in a tube for an hour like an MRI." I parked his bed outside of the CT room and waited for the exam inside to finish up. "It won't take long. Plus, they're a lot quieter."

He laughed. "Yeah I remember the MRI that I had, that thing was loud!" He then asked me if I'd seen some old movie about World War II and compared the sound of the MR machine to the guns on the battleships. "Yeah those guns were lined up in threes and would take out those Japanese planes doing harakiri ... no wait, that's not the right term for it --"

"Kamikaze," I offered.

"Right, kamikaze --" Pausing suddenly, he looked at me a little closer. "Hey ... you're not Japanese, are you?" I told him no, I was Filipino.

Another pause. "Oh okay, good -- 'cause if you were Japanese, man, I really would have insulted you!"

[insert record scratch sound here] Um.

I didn't quite know how to respond to him at that point, but I was pissed (picture me with my usual mad face and steam rising from the top of my dome). Luckily the door to the CT room opened and I took the emerging patient back to the ER while he went inside. Still, the conversation bounced around in my head for the rest of the day. Even now I'm still not sure if I should have said something; although I'm not Japanese I was still pretty offended by his comment. I know that my physical appearance solicited his outburst (please don't tell me that we really all look the same) and I can't help how I look, but he really didn't have to take it to the level where he would have "insulted" me if I had been Japanese. What would he have said, racial slurs?

I hate dealing with this crap.

Since I was in a hospital and work setting, and in the Interest Of Patient Care And Customer Service, I probably made the right decision in not pursuing the matter directly with the guy and giving him a strong piece of my mind. But trust me when I tell you I wanted to.

*sigh* So I'll vent by writing it down instead.

1 comment(s):

Strictor said...

Maybe he was meant to say, he would have "offended" you by that comment. If not, a quick push down some stairs may change outlook. Click clack!

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