Emergency Transport

Transports of Delight

Oh no! My dear readers, I have neglected you!

I feel terrible for not posting a story last Sunday, but the reason was that, well, I felt terrible. I’ve been having a heinous bout of illness – poor me, et cetera, et cetera. So here’s what happened last Sunday, when I should have been writing a post for ToD:

It’s Sunday afternoon, and it’s gotten worse. I feel like I’m about to drop. I need to get to a hospital, but it’s gonna be a mission. I don’t have a car, and taxis are hideously expensive. My housemate’s away, and she’s pretty much the only person I know in this town, so no one can drive me. You might be thinking, hey, why not just call for an ambulance? Um, have you ever been in an ambulance? They scare me more than the actual hospital. Anyway, whatever method of transport I use to get there, it’ll be quicker than waiting for an ambulance. I google the closest hospital. It’s actually not far. Shouldn’t be hard to catch a bus there. But wait, there’s something I haven’t factored in.

The Brisbane Roar.

Yes, Brisbane’s A-league soccer team. They are playing Perth Glory in one hour, in the grand final. This worries me for two reasons. Firstly, Glory are the underdogs this year and I really want them to win so I can look these Brisbane bastards in the eye. (Still a Perth girl, through and through. If I have internal damage, I assure you it is bleeding purple.) Secondly, the stadium is right near the hospital. The roads are chaos, and buses are diverting to carry the orange army of Roar supporters to the match. I’m not likely to get a bus anytime soon.

I can’t face walking to the hospital. So, I dial the number for a taxi. The taxi arrives, and takes me to the Emergency Department of the nearest hospital. I limp inside the building, relieved to have made it. But something doesn’t look right.

The waiting area is … empty. The decor is … pleasant. Then the receptionist tells me that they don’t bulk bill, and I go an extra shade of pale. I’ve walked into a private hospital! Run, run for your life! Save your wallet! The lady assures me that, after a Medicare rebate, consultation would only cost a minimum of $200, but I’m already backing away. I find a sympathetic nurse and blurt out my troubles.

“Where is the hospital where the poor people go?”

The nurse directs me to a nearby hospital which does bulk bill. And, she says brightly, it’s only a ten-minute walk … uphill. I groan, and dial for another taxi. I stagger out to the street, feeling demoralised. Each short taxi ride is costing me a day’s worth of meals, and since I’m too sick to work, my income is severely limited. At least I can get to this hospital and get my health sorted out.

I’m on my last legs. I wait outside the hospital entrance, sitting on the concrete steps. A taxi suddenly zooms past. I wave at the driver, scared he might drive off without me. He slows, and crawls up the road at a snail’s pace. Now I’m confused. Is this my taxi? Or is he just sight-seeing? He creeps a bit further up the road, then stops. I pull myself onto my feet and head for the car. It’s an effort to walk, but I walk quickly to show him that I’m his intended passenger. As I get closer, the car suddenly jerks to a start and rolls further up the road. I wave, and try to close the gap between us. He jumps forward again and moves further up the road. It feels like that trick that you play when someone’s about to get in your car. Just when their hand’s almost on the door handle, you drive forward a few metres so they have to run to catch up. “Ha ha ha, so funny! You shoulda seen yo’ face!”

But I’m not amused. I have no idea what this guy is doing. Three times I nearly approach the car, and he creeps forward again. At last, I reach the car and fling the passenger door open.

“Finally caught you!” I wheeze, sliding into the backseat. The taxi driver just nods and says “Where would you like to go?” As if I hadn’t just chased him up the road. Okay.

I tell him which hospital, and we jump away from the kerb. As we pull out into traffic, it dawns on me. He wasn’t trying to play tricks. He’s simply a terrible driver.

This taxi is weaving, jerking and zipping all over the road. He steps on the pedals like a first-timer, speeding up to the backs of other cars, then slamming on the brakes right before we hit them. We swing around corners with reckless abandon. As I slide around in my seat, trying to hold onto my stomach, I’m not comforted to see the taxi driver tugging on his seatbelt. It looks like he’s checking that it will be strong enough. That can’t be good.

Oh well, I think. At least we’ll crash near lots of doctors. (I’ve achieved delerium.)

As we near the hospital, the taxi driver barks, “Whereyouwannago?”

“Emergency,” I get out, through clenched teeth. “Emergency!”

The taxi driver mumbles to himself. He’s probably trying to figure out if I was telling him I wanted to go to Emergency, or if I was just summing up our situation as we plummet through traffic.

Finally, we jerk to a halt in front of the Emergency Department entrance, and I tumble out of the cab. The taxi tears off around the corner, off to terrorise its next customer. As I wobble through the sliding doors, I feel a strange sense of elation. I’m not nervous anymore. I survived that taxi ride, didn’t I? Nothing in this hospital can scare me now. I am invincible!

Thank you, insane taxi driver. Thank you.

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