dal niente

Month: March, 2009

Putting the sin in sincerity

“Sir, don’t worry about it,” I say.  “You’re doing everything you need to be doing.  At this point, all you can do is wait.  And I realize that’s really tough, but this is where we’re at, that’s where you’re at, and we’re working our way to you.  I realize it’s frustrating, but right now, this is what you do, and this is what we do.  I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.”

I say this all with a bit of a grim smile which I’ve tailored through hours upon hours of giving parents excuses as to why their kid with a fever of over 40 degrees has been waiting 6 hours like every other kid.  What can I tell you?  This is an emergency department– if you come in here, you’re triaged, and that is judgement decides whether you get seen in the next hour or half a day.  It doesn’t seem fair to most parents, but fairness isn’t necessarily why we’re here.  There is a sytem in place, there are policies, and this is how we roll.

Nonetheless whenever a parent comes up to me and asks me that golden question, “how long before my kid’s turn? We’ve been waiting for X hours?” I always give them my sincerest apologies for the wait time, and try to console them not only that we’re doing the best we can, but that they’re doing the best they can.

It’s a trick.  I’m manipulating them, in a sense, because when I parent comes up to me they’re genuinely worried about their kid.  Really, the most problematic parents are the ones who care a lot about their children– they’re the ones who are constantly wondering why their family isn’t getting VIP service.

Who decides how important a child is in this hospital?  Essentially, from a legal standpoint, it’s the triage nurse.  She decides if you’re a priority 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. My job is to trust that nurse.  So no matter how much you tell me a sob story about how your kid missed school, how you have to be out of here in 3 hours to pick up your other kids, how you have to pay for more parking, how you’re using your cellphone because you really need to talk to your husband, how you’ve been waiting for 4 hours already–

I don’t care.

… but as a professional, I will certainly convince you that I do.

It’s what I’m paid to do, in part.  And I’m not misleading you about anything to do with the services that we’re providing– I don’t tell you that you’re going to be seen any sooner than you will be, I don’t give you any false hope.  I don’t tell you anything that isn’t true.  But the way that I tell it to you is going to seem sincere when in reality, I don’t care.

I will treat you like a human being and I will listen to your sob story as much as I have time for, even though you treat us like shit all in the name of love of your child.  But you know what?  I don’t care.

Most of the time, you will return to the waiting room, even thanking me for my understanding.

It’s a dualism within me I think because in most cases I’m pretty honst about when I do and don’t give a fuck about something, but as a professional, I do my job with a great deal of craftsmanship.  I’ll tailor my apologies on behalf of the hospital to your unique circumstances (at least, what you‘d like to think are unique circumstances).  To me it’s a game.  There are techniques and tactics to preventing an uprising of parents.

It’s really similar to managing a classroom full of children actually, it’s something you sorta just get the feeling for.  Children always ask you questions for which there is no easy answer– regardless of your answer though, you’ve got to package it in such a way that prevents the collective confidence in you and the system from reaching critical levels.

Work is one thing though.

What about friends and family?

Say I go to a store to buy something.  Best example: say I need tech support.  In the not too distant past, I wanted to set up a network bridge in my house using two routers, because I wanted a direct cable connection from DSL modem -> router -> Xbox in the basement, and I wanted a secondary router upstairs to serve the computers upstairs.  I only had one router though, and not all routers are capable of bridge mode, so I went to a store and asked people which model they had on shelf that could best serve my purposes.  The technical bits of this anecdote don’t matter– what upsets me continuously is that as salesmen, or as technicians or whatever, there is no sincerity, fake or otherwise.

See, when I’m paying money, I expect you to dance for me.  I mean, what is a salesperson’s job, really?  To tell me about the product?  Yes, but also, showmanship, and sincerity, no matter how fake.  Be nice to me.  I’m not even giving you attitude, so try a bit harder before that comes out.  I don’t usually give attitude, but when it comes to computer parts, god I will so go postal on you and the rest of your Geek Squad if you don’t know your shit– because it’s unprofessional!

I understand that sometimes nothing can be done, and that you’ve probably heard questions like mine before, but it is your job at least to be courteous and to seem sincere about not being able to help me.  You are being paid to go the mile to making my shopping not just a chore, but an experience.

On the other hand,

friends and family, I don’t want any of that fake shit.  If I ask someone to go do something and they give me the runaround, I don’t want to have my feelings spared.  It’s not your job to protect me.  If I ask a favor and you don’t want to do it, give it to me straight up.   On the other hand, when our situations are reversed, I will tell you what I think.


Because I think that friendship and family surpass the need for social conventions that keep society together.  We can operate on a higher level, one of honesty and WYSIWYG.  If we were to deivide life into public life and private life, friends and family go in the private life category and there, things need to be kept real.

Excuses, insincere apologies, beating around the bushes…

I’m always hearing about people here or there making excuses for this or that and I think that when people say “alright, this is enough.  We’re done” I feel a bit glad, because coming to the realization that we simply can’t be friends with everyone is the first step to treating yourself with respect.  As professionals, we have to put up with a lot of shit, and we have an obligation to do so with a smile in most cases.

But with friends, not only shouldn’t we accept insincerity but we shouldn’t propogate it either.

The thing about lying to someone is that sometimes, is that I think it’s severity changes on what about the scenario you’re lying about.

When a patient’s parents come to me, I lie about caring about them sometimes.  Because, like I said, I don’t.  But, what I’m not lying about is the services we’ll receive, the situation we and they are in, and any information they need to have that I can provide.  I don’t consider this an issue, therefore, because they’re not in the hospital to have a relationship with me– they’re here for a service which I am still providing, and if you really want to rationalize, it’s a service they’re going to receive more likely than not if they’re not dragged out by security for getting aggressive.  We clerks are, in a sense, working for the overal efficiency system by quelling unrest with our white lies.  I’m not even joking– this is really true.

On the other hand, with friends– we engage in friendships because of the relationship.  We’re not trying to get services out of eachother explicitly (although that may be a benefit), we’re trying to find companions.  People who will walk beside us or watch our backs.  That’s all about the relationship– and this is why we shouldn’t be insincere in the way we deal with friends, because the sincerity is all that there is to keep the relationship going, isn’t it?

We chose friends based on who they are.  And how does that work, really, if people are making excuses, deflections, are trying to ‘spare you’ or whatever?  Then you just get remembered as the person who can’t get their shit together or the one who’s always being ambiguous.  Everybody hates that fucking guy.

Why do people do that anyhow?  Because nobody will like ’em if they don’t tell people what they want to hear?  The irony.

The Tao of a Week

Short Term Done:

  • Change my availibilty at work so that I can always have Fridays off.  Not just for Numac at night, but that leaves me the whole day to do whatever I want since Numac is conveniently placed at 10pm after most other things have gone down.
  • Sit down for some Rockaberry’s cheesecake for the first time since I left Montreal.
  • Sit down for some Wasabi’s sushi for the first time since I left Montreal.
  • Actually have a sitdown meal with my grandparents at their place, which, for 3 weeks, I haven’t done because of work.
  • Managed to log in about 5 hours of Bioshock last night (yes, I know it’s an old game, but I’m behind with the times).
  • Managed to clear out my inbox and reply to everyone who wanted replies (it only took a couple of hours).
  • Managed to work on my standup game so that even people who want to grapple will have a tough time getting in, and worked to improve my ground deffense better so I can either breakaway or get into a ground striking game.
  • Started downloading Ilgesias music. (Yes, because this stuff is awesome in the morning!)

Short Term ToDo:

  • I slept 11 hours last night.  That’s unheard of considering that my natural, normal sleep requirement is about 7 per day.
    • I need to find some way to dampen the effects of Numac and RsM being one day after another (Friday then Saturday) because the two combined are just too much.  I don’t want to participate any less in either, but the fact is that by Sunday, I’m so physically drained that I ususally wake up sick.
    • I need to sleep earlier and take more advantage of daylight before work instead of doing everything after work.
    • Basically, I need to rebalance my week because right now all the fun and free time is centered around the end of my week. Mondays, in contrast, are pretty vanilla.  I need to get something consistently fun in on a Tusday or so.
  • I need to figure out some way to arrange my free time in advance so I can actually plan to go out with people.
  • I need to buy my grandparents a new telephone because they’re too paranoid about not hanging up the cordless phone properly– ironically, as a result, they just don’t pick up the cordless phone.
  • Need to wean my dad off of the salt.  Especially since I’m moving out, I need to get him in good eating shape before I move.  It’s going to be really tough because we’ve always argued about cooking and food and this, in a sense, his house, both literally and metaphorically.  Looking at it though he’s going to be as difficult as my grandfather if we don’t start correcting him when he’s young.
  • I need to start stretching again.  It’s good to get back into shape but flexibility is going to be a limit.  I want to start kicking like Andy Hug, just cracking skulls with heels like a lumberjack on a mission. (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tb6BbwKiPHQ  for details.)
  • I still haven’t made my hospital ID card.

Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead

Although I had tried a game called Sector 7 on Commodore 64 years before it, I think it was with Wolfenstein 3d that my long journey down the path of first person shooters would begin.  There’d be a zillion similar titles to Wolf3d using essentially the same engine, such as Catacombs 3d, Ken’s Labyrinth… etc.  Rise of the Triad would be one of the first to take things a step further by taking things further.

Sure, the games were fun– but it was a time of gaming where the kinds of skills involved in playing were different from with the modern FPS.  Wolf3d for example was basically a run a shoot, with some puzzles in the form of wall pressing.  There was no cover– you basically walked around corners and hoped to clip someone’s shoulder to death, or you could strategically use doors for chokepoints and take down anyone (or anydog) that ran up to you.

I think the next big step was Doom.

I remember when I was a kid, we had a shareware version of Doom.  I was instantly hooked.  Doom was on a completely different level from Duke3d in terms of the game mechanics.  You didn’t just have a small, medium and large gun that essentially changed the rate of fire– you had guns with different reload speeds, different grades of stopping power, splash damage…

… and you had a chainsaw.

It was also one of the first FPS games that I’d ever played that made any attempt at creating ambiance.  Unlike the castles of Wolfenstein, proceeding through the stages of Doom wasn’t just a walk through differently colored brick halls.  Doom started off in a space station, and as the story progressed you got into the bowels of hell itself.  All through the while, you’d be fighting under various lighting conditions– and while the lighting effects of Doom seem primative by today’s standards, let me tell you that when you’re a kid and you hear the bull-imps (those pink beasts that run up to you and try to bite your face off) before you can see them coming out of the shadows, that’s a pretty freaking scary lighting effect for the era.

Doom made it’s way into Doom II and for a while, I didn’t play FPS again… not until Duke Nukem 3d.

It was when I started playing Duke Nukem 3d.

Duke Nukem 3d is what made my transition from someone who played games to a gamer.  I played through the game a hundred times on the highest difficulty level.  This was all in preparatino for multiplay.  With a 14.4k modem, I could play head to head with Vittek and NoBloodNoGlory (my cousins).  I had memorized all the sound effects in the stage so that no matter where my opponent was, if I heard a light switch or a door swing open, I would know by the distinct sound of each exactly where my opponent was.  It was a one on one hunt.  I learned to circle-strafe (or “moon strafe,” as it was called at the time) opponents, dodging ennemies with lasers and rocket launchers while using just a pistol to take them down.  I had a “holodupe” close quarters combat technique that consisted of jumping around like a maniac whenever fighting in close range, and when I found the right moment, dropping a holographic projection of myself just as i jumped behind an opponent and ducked behind his legs.  I had reconfigured the keys for the game so I could do quickturnarounds and shoot them in the ass while they were confused by the hologram.  I also used the ‘kick’ button while shooting in close quarters, so that if it came down to a one on one fight where we were both using the same weapon, the extra kick here or there would mean the difference between a near death and a victory by a dozen hitpoints.

So why is Duke Nukem 3d so different?

Because it was the first game that I think I took “seriously” as far as FPS goes.  I practiced it inside out, not just to understand how to win the game, but how the mechanics of the engine itself worked.

Work your way down the line to games such as Quake, and then introduce Third Person Shooters such as Flashpoint, Enter the Matrix, F.E.A.R., Rainbow Six, Bioshock, Gears of War, etc… even other non shooter games that sort of have similiarities with the genre, such as MGS games and Resident Evils, if you look at the way time has changed things what you have isn’t just an evolution of the games, but a necesscary update in the way that we try to beat these games.  It’s not enough to point a gun somewhere and pull the trigger.  The modern FPS isn’t just about holding down a fire button and pointing.  It’s often now about cover, it’s about using environments to your advantage, it’s about positioning, and in some cases, teamwork and communication with your partner(s).

I think that I grew up at a great time, because it’s allowed me to see the evolution of such games from their most primitive forms to the level of immersiveness they do now.

Mind you, I do feel that nowadays because of the push towards doing something better, some companies do fail outright with titles to do anything that interests me.  How many ways can you simulate virtual shooting?  At some point, going out and playing some paintball is just better, isn’t it?

That’s not necessarily true– because a video game isn’t meant always to simulate reality.  At times, it is meant to add to it and make it more interesting.

Regardless, what I’m saying is that it’s cool to watch the games grow up for better or worse.

Do You Rememeber

28/03/2009 1:26:04 AM Jinryu SiB i was going to officially ask her out
28/03/2009 1:26:08 AM Jinryu SiB but then i chickened out
28/03/2009 1:26:20 AM Jinryu SiB so despite having a good time i’m just like… grrrr.
28/03/2009 1:26:37 AM Jinryu SiB nothing like some ass kicking to put things on solid, unambiguous ground
28/03/2009 1:26:59 AM SiB Jinryu why… are you scared of asking her out?
28/03/2009 1:27:08 AM SiB Jinryu is she responding nicely to you?
28/03/2009 1:28:35 AM Jinryu SiB man, you know this business of ruining friendships
28/03/2009 1:28:39 AM Jinryu SiB i don’t even believe in that
28/03/2009 1:28:43 AM Jinryu SiB but i think that’s what i fall back on
28/03/2009 1:29:00 AM Jinryu SiB you know it’s strange but after doing Numac all my excuses to not ask her out seem really stupid.
28/03/2009 1:29:05 AM SiB Jinryu yes
28/03/2009 1:29:07 AM Jinryu SiB so perhaps i just should and bite the bullet.
28/03/2009 1:29:11 AM SiB Jinryu friendship don’t get ruined
28/03/2009 1:29:20 AM SiB Jinryu friendships*
28/03/2009 1:29:25 AM Jinryu SiB i mean i don’t see how this is any harder than going against people who i know will punch me in the solar plexus. it just IS.
28/03/2009 1:29:42 AM SiB Jinryu haha

We stick to the things that we’re familiar with.  Comfort zones and all that.  Even pain can become a familiar thing, physical, mental, spiritual. We just get so damn used to doing things the way we always do that it’s hard to change, even when we know what we want to do.

People tell me they don’t know what’s this point of this or that.  Why put on a gi and get strangled till you see black spots?  Why get on a bike, when you could ride a metro?  Why learn a language? Why go to a poor country?  Why this or that?


Whatever questions you ask about something that someone’s done, what kind of answer can you really get– in most cases, they did what they did perhaps simply because they could.  They wouldn’t, by definition, do something they can’t.

So really, anything like Numac isn’t really that impressive from my shoes– because to me, it’s normal.  It’s within my understanding.

I look at rock climbers and I think to myself, holy fuck, that’s amazing!  I’m afraid of heights. But they don’t see anything special about it in the way I do, because they’re just doing what they’re doing, because they can.

I’m not saying that I could never rock climb– I’m saying that for me to rock climb, relatively speaking, that’s a lot more amazing than a rock climber climbing.

It’s when you do something different that there’s something amazing… the courage to step out of a comfort zone.  Sure, comfort has a lot to do with the things we enjoy about what we do– but it also has to do with the kinds of discomfort we’re used to.  Just a couple of days ago, I got totally rocked by a body blow that sent me crashing to the ground.  My whole body was trembling, and I had to take off my helmet so I could spit out my mouthguard because I felt I was choking on it.

I make this sound dramatic, but from where I was, hands and knees on the ground, it really isn’t– this is something I understand, despite it being something I dislike.  It is something familiar. 

Asking out women, on the other hand.  I might as well be rock climbing.  Actually having a girlfriend isn’t so tough– been there, done that– but asking someone out?

That’s just one of those areas that I’m not comfortable.

When you really think about it though, all those times that you do something out of your box, those are the things that you remember most.

Rising Up

Jinryu says:
today felt like it was better than previous weeks
Jinryu says:
looked like people were really into it
SiB says:
SiB says:
SiB says:
SiB says:
SiB says:
for bringing the real MAC back
Jinryu says:
Jinryu says:
it was a good way to end the day
SiB says:

Today’s Numac was epic.  I did a round of mixed fighting with Rod and that is really the way to do it.  The round had standup fighting, strong roundhouses to the guts, combo punches, tie-ups, full body throws, projection reversals, takedown, knees from clinch, grounds and pounds, submissions, rolling, counters, everything, and the kitchen sink for good measure.

Around me you could hear it all– the scrape of feet shuffling across the tatamis, the sharp exhales of punches and kicks thrown, the distinct sound of a blocked fist on a shoulder roll or the slapping splash of a foot on an ass cheek.  Occasionaly you’d hear someone get smacked and the word ‘goddamit!’ would filter through threads of saliva hanging from a mouthguard.  Occasionally, you’d hear something a lot more primal– just someone roaring.  And of course, you’d hear someone groan, and everyone else in the room going suddenly quiet, to stare at the man who just went down from an accidental hook punch in the groin.

And all through it, it really isn’t just about pain in itself.  Nor is it about fighting, or violence.  When you watch some guys on a corner of the mats listening to someone with experience instructing on how to lock your adversary in a ‘rubber guard,’ there’s no violence whatsoever– and yet this kind of thing is why we’re all here.

I think that at the end of the day, Numac is about camraderie.  Fighting spirit, education, whatever– whatever you find that you’re there for, that is your way to connect with the group.   Some people are more shy than others, some people more skilled at certain things than others– yet everyone speaks as equals and between rounds, sits around, watching what’s going on, shooting the shit.

Passions will always be what unite people.  There will always be something indescribable about anything we love which is why we do what we do despite all other differences.  People stay in jobs despite hating them at times because they find something that makes it worthwhile– in the same way, it may not be obvious why people want to get out there and risk taking shots in the face and stomach– but once you find that thing, that something that you care about, why would you let it go?

It doesn’t have to be the only thing in your life– I think that happiness comes in small little collectibles– you just have to recognize sometimes what are the things that you care about, and fight for the opportunity to put your fingers around it.  That’s what The Way is all about.

Numac is really doing what it was supposed to do, and in fact, it’s actually exceeding my expectations.  We had a lot of the old MAC crew show up– Jason K, a former karateka who has since been training at H2O, Mani, a former breakdancer who had since been training at the old Senshido gym and at 10th Planet.  And then there were also two more completely new members, young guys in their early twenties, who just wanted to get a taste of things.  Most of the faces are the same, but they’re different people now and that’s what adds something that I didn’t count on.

With the experiences that people have had since MAC closed, I can honestly say that, with this weeks events, attendence, the fighting spirit as well as the teaching I saw going on, it’s better than before.


관 means a hollowed thing or place of some sort, it has several meanings.  It could be anything from a pipe to a coffin, to a box. Something with “space” I suppose.  I’m not an etymologist.  심 means “mind” as far as I can tell, it was a word that gwanjangnim taught me in taekwondo.  It was part of the taekwondo academy’s creed– other elements included “body,” “fighting spirit” and “peace.”

If you put 관 and 심 together, you get 관심 which means “interest”.  It might not be intentional, I like to imagine the composition of “interest” to mean “the space of my mind.”

Korean grammar differs from English grammar in a few ways, the most primary being that it doesn’t go from subject to verb to object.  “I kick the dog,” for example, in Korean would be arranged as “I dog kick.”

Tangshin-eun nae gwanshim issuhyo
…”You  … the space of my mind … are.”

It’s how you tell a Korean guy or girl that you like them.  You tell them basically that they are your mind, they are the space where you keep your thoughts.

Viva la Resistance

A couple of days ago, one of my coworkers was having a rough day.  She’s working at the reception desk for the day shifts to replace [Trainer From Hell].  Reception desk is really the backbone of the Emergency department– all operations filter through the reception desk.  It doesn’t just involve answering calls and saying hello to people who walk in, it also involves a lit of a billion different unrelated tasks that you’ll never know about until someone asks you to do it for the first time.  Nothing in training really prepares you for your first day alone at reception.

I’ve never been alone working as reception for a full shift.  The longest I’ve had to sit down to that post was for 3 hours, and the beauty of that is because you’re just backup you’re not entirely expected to finish all the work that’s on the table, you give your sitrep to the person who’s replacing you and pass on the back.  This doesn’t in the slightest mean that you’re not supposed to crunch your work out full tilt– it just means that there’s a certain lessening of the responsibility because as a replacement receptionist, you’re only half aware of what the full receptionist is trying to get done.  Usually, I’m there to replace someone on their breaks, or if someone called in sick for late for a couple of hours.

[Red] on the other hand, the coworker who I’m saying was having a bad day, has been working the receptionist post for days in a row, and that shit can get really under your skin.  The receptionist’s post is at most times of the day partially surrounded by medical and support staff, all simultaneously asking for people to be paged, for lab results to be printed, all of which is done verbally perhaps against a background of an incessantly ringing phone.

Back when I was first digging my hooks into training at reception, [Red], a wife and mother of two children, had just recently completed her training.  She’s been at the hospital for a couple of months more than me, so, more than any of the other coworkers, I got along with her best because the whole stress and fear of working in the Emergency department was closer on her heels than any of the other veterans.  I know there were days where at work I’d fucked up really bad, and though others could tell me that I’d done my best and that mistakes happen, it was [Red] who could relate a lot more and who got me through it.  I may have mentioned her in the past because she said something truly inspired me.

It was along the lines that sometimes she’d go home and just not move, feeling that she should quit.  And she was thinking this all throughout her month of training, but she persisted– because she wouldn’t allow herself to quit until she’d given herself a fair chance to get good at what she was doing.  She didn’t want to run from this job.  She wanted, in a sense, to know that as a person, she was better than it, and that if she was, then she could leave it behind if she wanted to.

The other day I saw her breaking down.  And I must admit, whenever the receptionist starts breaking down, it has a ripple effect acrros the entire clerical side of the Emergency department.  The receptionist is like the general, while the main coordinator, the surgical coordinator, the FT coordinator, the 3-7 clerk… along with all the support staff that the receptionist juggles, they’re all the footmen.  One doesn’t work without the other, of course, but when one footman goes down others can pick him up or take his place.  If the general goes down, everyone’s fucked.

The clerical aspect of the emergency department though is like a hive mind of sorts, and when one of it’s central systems is under attack, naturally other systems tend to reallocate their energies to fixing the downed system.  It was a particularly bad day two days ago that one of the main labs was closed, but doctors seldom really care about the reasons why their requisitions for tests aren’t going through.  They just expect everything to be handled, most of the time.  And frankly, that’s fair– it’s not their job to fuss over how the job gets done.  Medical staff is just to find out what’s wrong and what needs to be done.  Getting it done is up to the nurses, PCAs, and clerical staff.

Well, [Red] was being overwealmed.  First I found out that the lunch break I’d replaced her for, she’d spent sorting through a shitload of messed up ER sheets.  And then she left work about an hour late beacuse she was behind in the patient logouts.  The entire time I tried to help her out but she insisted on doing it herself in FT area I was working in.  I don’t mind having people working in my area– but if I’m sitting there, I don’t want to be idle next to someone who is working.  It was an awkward silence broken only by her mumbled curses.

“I can’t put up with this shit anymore,” she kept saying.  “This department is fucking crazy.  It’s a freaking zoo out there.”

And I was honestly very scared that she would quit.

The next few days were no better as far as patient volume was concerned, and again, I saw the wedges being driven into the cracks.  By now the other clerks saw it too so we did everything we could to stealthily help [Red] with her work without her knowing, because whenever she saw the work stacking up she would refuse any help and insist that she learn to do it herself.  I think right now she just has trouble asking for help– it’s a pride to her to be able to work this job that is killing her, I think.  It might have something to do with her personal history or something that I’m not aware of.

In the past few days though she’s started asking for help from others.  We don’t even mind… we all cover eachothers’ backs all the time and it’s the natural way of things.

Her morale seems to be much higher now because it was so low before that I thought she really was going to quit, and that woulda saddened me because if someone like [Red] quits I think that that’d be a severe blow to me, because her tenacity is one of my inspirations to staying in this department.

Knee Deep

I’m using my parents computer for the first time since I left Korea.

It’s insane how many viruses, how much spyware and malware they’ve managed to collect on this thing.

Absolutely insane.

I’m surprised this poor bastard even turns on.

How to be a Megastar

I tried Rockband on Xbox yesterday for the first time and I can see how it can be addictive.  It was a bit tough to play the drums because my foot was starting to get sore so I had to cut back, but I can see how any of that game could be a real sort of “if you experience any pain, see your physican” sorts of games.

It’s funny but I never realized how much of a junkie I am for videogames– I was over at Nimbus’ place and my eyes kept on wandering to the game.  Sure, why didn’t I play?  Well, I guess I could have but I would have just done that and not done anything else.  I guess the way I look at it is that once I get locked into a game that’s what I’ll do without exception.  SiB was there too and frankly, I barely got to exchange more than 3 sentences with him over the course of the entire evening in part because he was on Rockband.

In fairness, I’m the guest at this group and they’ve all spent a lot more time with eachother, so it’s understandable that people wouldn’t feel the need to specifically sit down and get to know eachother through conversation.

I ended up sitting down with an aquaintence at the table.  He’s got a bit of an odd fellow– harmless (I think) but I really haven’t run into him for a couple of years.  We went to college together, and he was a few years my junior in high school.  Recently, his girlfriend had left him, he found out on facebook that he was being cuckolded, he’s been left to pay full rent on an apartment that they were sharing, and he lost his job.

There’s not much I can say to a situation like.  All I can do is stick my foot in my mouth every now and then to releive some tension.

And, I hate to say this, but thanks man, because hearing your story makes me feel much better about my life.

I don’t say that to be an asshole primarily, although that is probably a secondary result– but frankly, that’s what rough shit in life is– a way of putting blessings into perspective.

Aside from an aquaintence at the table, there was one longtime college friend also at the said gathering and now that was something interesting to watch.  I’d been warned in advance about his antics– he basically buzzed from one girl in the room to the next getting touchy feely with them.  I suppose looking back he’s always sorta been like that, and I suppose on one hand it happens because the girls don’t usually find it creepy enough to tell him to back the fuck off, but from my vantage point at the table it was like watching some sorta discovery channel documentary.  It’s like a physical form of passive aggressiveness.  And sure, this is among friends, and perhaps it’s because I’ve been working for the government for so long, but this sort of action is the reason why we have little workshops on sexual harassment.

It was funny because Nimbus kept on giving me these looks of “YOU SEE! YOU SEE WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT!”

I think I turn a blind eye to these sorts of things and in the end, I don’t really care too much though– I mean, some people, you’ve just known them so long that I stop considering them friends and I put them in the family category.  The family category means that there’s all sorts of annoying shit they can do.  They can spit in your face even and just be assholes for no reason (not even for your benefit, just for the sake of being assholes) and you’ll still be able to count on them if the mob was running after you some day.

As far as my non-blood family goes, I think I’ve put up with a lot of their stupid shit, enough for lifetimes, but the reason that I do so is because of the long history of shared trials.

Nevertheless, I think that when someone goes into the family category, my expectations go a lot higher.  Just like how if you had a brother or sister and you’d expect them to do the right thing, when you see someone in your non-blood family doing stupid shit you just get really annoyed.  I suppose friends wouldn’t let friends do X, but I guess what I’m talking about are degrees of intolerance– yet the irony is the more family you get (both blood and non-blood) the more intolerance you feel but the more tolerance you display.

You get what I mean?

I mean, if friends treat me like shit, I’ll tell them off.  I’ll call them on that shit.

Family?  I tend to put up with more of it, even though part of the reason why shit happens is because I have higher expectations.

An example is if a young friend of mine starts smoking, I’ll call them on that shit.

If a family member is still smoking, I’ll bug them about it but in the end because of our history, I have a clearer understanding of what might come of this situation regardless of my nagging, so I might just tolerate it and try to find some other worthwhile parts of their character to focus on.

But i suppose even that… well.  It depends from person to person I suppose.  There are some people in family who I will tell just about anything, I’m not afraid to get into fisticuffs with them just so that they know what I’m thinking.  So it’s not that family hears less of what I really think, it’s more like, I know what I’ve already told them and I’ve accepted that I cannot change them.

I suppose some people are a lot closer to their families than I am, so my way of handling all this might be different, but this is sorta the way it works for me.  Family is like the last line of deffense– ragtag bunch from the four corners– they will help you when you need it most, even if that means hurting you.

I was thinking about it lately, and exactly how does one become likable?  Looking around I see a lot of people going about their ways to do just that– to be liked.  I’m sure I do it too but I’m so oblivious to habits that I mightn’t be able to pinpoint it without talking to an outside person.  But when I look around, maybe that’s just it– when I meet people anywhere and I see that one person is making drama, another person is buzzing around, someone is giving advice, someone is showing off, someone is being quiet and understanding– whatever, these are all roles that people get into to fit into this social game that’s going on.  I’m no psychologist but I think that the important thing about being liked is just, as cheesy as it sounds, to be yourself.

And it’s not that that in itself is the answer to everyone’s problems of social ostracization.  It’s just that if people do end up liking your company because of a facade that you’re constantly putting up, they don’t really like you.

We could debate all day about how a facade is ultimately a part of the person and yadda yadda but that’s semantics– if I tell you, are can accept who you are when you’re in public and you say “no, this is why I’m will be like this instead” then you’re on the wrong track because when you finally get the acceptance you seek, it won’t be for who you are.

On the other hand if you are yourself and nobody likes you… well, either hang around people who will like you or change yourself.

There is a big difference between pretending to be someone you’re not and changing yourself.

Missed Connections

Well, it’s not my chair, really. I’ve been working in the fasttrack (FT) department for almost the last month, so, I pretty much consider it my department, my little office space, and my chair though, since almost nobody is ever there. There are three chairs in the area. One is too hard, one is too soft.

And one is just right. The just right one, I reserve for myself. (That’s the one I call my chair.)

At some point last week I came into the FT area and what did I notice, but someone was sitting in my chair.

It’s not a big deal, really. It’s just more of a surprise, because the FT area is sort of out of the way– there’s usually just no reason for anyone but me and a specilized FT doctor to work there, because neither the normal doctors nor nurses can really do anything efficiently in that area– the lab boards and the requisition boards are far over on the other end of the department, so unless I’ve been assigned to assist them with their labwork and reqs, it’s a lot of legwork for them to be doing their work long-range from where the main area clerks are. It’s surrounded by 4 rooms which I use to run the FT patients, so unless you’re the person who interacts with the FT patients, there’s not much reason to be in this particular area. Although, sometimes we do occasionally get a doctor who comes to finish paperwork in the FT area because it’s quieter. The main are of the Emergency department is very stressful.

Usually, I’m quite happy to be working in just the FT department because of the fact that it’s less stressful– you only deal with one doctor and parents who, normally, are going to be served quite quickly. The main area is a whole other beast. The downside though is that when you’re in charge of FT, you’re pretty isolated– you just crunch through patients like mad and don’t get to see much of the rest of your coworkers, except for the doctor you’re working with. As a result, whenever I’ve caught up in my FT duties, I usually try and go to the main area to see if it’s possible to assist the other clerks, because chances are, they’re overworked. And also, because the FT area gets a bit boring without running into people, unless I’m paired with a fun doctor. We don’t get nearly as many visitors.

Sometimes, someone will be sitting in the FT area trying to figure out some sort of difficult problem because there, there’s nobody breathing down your neck, as is the case in the main area. I also usually have a radio on with classical music. It’s recently come to be known as [Jinryu]’s corner.

On this particular day, in my chair, there was someone. Which was odd, because I’d never been introduced to her, and she was younger than me, and her name wasn’t the name of the doctor I was expecting (usually written on the board) to be working with. I guessed that she wasn’t the doctor I was working with.  (Rightly so, it turns out.) So, I just did what I should be doing– went about my work, prepping my department, basically working around her as unobtrusively as possible. Called in patients. Checked some data. Did some filing. Hunted down some obscure test results from another department. Played some telephone tag with departments that didn’t want to be caught. You know– usual clerical stuff.

At some point, she looked up from the computer screen (she was also using my computer, so I was just using the secondary one) and asked me if she knew if that was all I had to enter the patient’s prognosis into the computer. I checked it out, explained a few things about the system, and she said thank you.  I thought it was nice that I happened to be wearing my Superman shirt that day.

She asked if I was a resident there.

It’s funny how that kind of question always seems to hit me like a small bit of kryptonite.  It doesn’t really hurt, but I do feel suddenly embarrassed and self conscious about myself whenever I’m mistaken for a doctor.  My reaction at this point is the only thing on my mind, because this is like one of those ‘first impression’ questions that people tend to ask. At least, in my head, it is: maybe it’s because in my family, the doctor’s position in the social hierarchy is one of prestige.  Conversely, the fact that I’m an English major with very little earning power,,, on some level, it makes me feel ashamed.

It’s funny how that kind of question always seems to hit me like stiff jab in the face. It doesn’t really hurt enough to knock me down, but it suddenly makes me self conscious, and I have this bad habit of getting embarrassed about myself whenever I’m mistaken for a doctor. Maybe it’s because, like all Asian kids, the doctor’s position in the social hierarchy is one of prestige. Whenever someone asks me if I’m a doctor and I reply no, I expect them to say something along the lines of “oh. You’re of no use to me then.” It’s an insecurity at the workplace that I have, I think, in part perpetuated by the fact that most of the younger clerks doing the same job as I am don’t consider this a permanent thing. To them, coordinating in the Emergency department is a means to an end, something nice to have on a resume in search of a ‘better job,’ wheras for me, this sort of field is where I see myself a few years down the line. I take my work very seriously and I often feel that if there was any reason why I’d have issues with my fellow clerks, it wouldn’t be because they were bad people but because they were people who just didn’t care about our work as much as I do. There’s nothing as demoralizing at times when your teammates don’t care– it makes you question everything about what you’re doing.  Why are you here?  Why are you bothering?  But maybe it’s because I’m still new and have this kinda energy. Having just now worked 25 out of the last 48 hours of my life, with 3 more shifts before my next day off is in sight, I can certainly see how people in this department can burn out and simply stop caring. Anyhow.

“No, I’m just plain [Jinryu],” I reply to her.  “I’m the coordinator.  Nice to meet you.”

“Hi!  I’m [M].”

“I didn’t go to Evil Medical school,” I confessed.  She chuckled.  “But if you need anything, let me know.  I’m always bouncing around the departments.”

The thing about most medical students is that I tend not to like them.  It’s not really their fault– they are sorta new in the departments, and perpetually, they’re more new than I am, because during their runs of the Emergency beat, they only need to be here for something like two weeks.  As a result, they don’t really need to get to know how things run too deeply from a methodoly level– they’re mostly there to hone their deductive medical skills, and not really to get into the groove of the proccesses or people, since these things often change from hospital to hospital.

For that reason, I’ve usually found that students doctors have this bad habit of only talking to you when they want something.  While they do it, they’ll be polite in every which way possible– even throw in some smiles here and there.  But they don’t really care about anything.  And I don’t blame them– they’ve got a lot on their plate and they’re doing everything in their power to just stay sane and not get chewed out too much if they make some critical judgement errors under their respective mentor doctors.

From a practical point of view, student doctors make my life difficult in a few ways as well.  They go into a room with a patient, they interview the patient to try and figure out what’s wrong.  They tend to do things textbook style though to make sure they leave no stone unturned.  There’s a reason for that.  Anyhow, they’ll be in a room for around 15 minutes, maybe longer– depends on how much smalltalk is involved and how far the conversation detracts from medical relevance (some parents really want to tell you all about their dogs a cats and their new car and all this other stuff).  After the 15 minutes or more, they’ll leave the family in the room, and go to write some notes down or something and try and find a senior doctor who can review the case with them.  That takes more time.  Then the senior doctor and student doctor will return to the room together and then talk to the family, and present their ideas, and order any tests if necessary.  This all take a lot of time.  The problem with having a student doctor is that they ‘lockdown’ rooms–  any family they interview is basically going to be stuck in a room for almost an hour.  That’s one less room for you to start assigning to other patients, since normally, the usual flow is doctor goes in, doctor and family come out– and you have your examining room back to reuse for someone else.   With a student doctor, student doctor goes in, student doctor goes out, family waits, student doctor does stuff, finds senior doctor, then both return, then maybe all leave after.  Those added steps lock down rooms and if you don’t have examination rooms, you don’t have an emergency department– there’s nowhere to see more patients!

Over the course of the next few days, we’d meet here and there during the little moments of rest time.  It was nice.

[M] was different from other doctors in training because on the second occasion I met her, I ran into her in the hallways and she recognized me before I recognized her. She smiled and waved. I didn’t recognize where I’d first seen her for a moment.

It’s a particular thing about the way I remember people, but I tend not to remeber peoples appearances or their names as much as I do their body mechanics. I mean, after knowing someone for a while I remember everything, but the first thing that I catch on is the way that they move– I’ve run into people in the past, for example, that I couldn’t remember for the life of me, until we’d finished our awkward little “Oh, how are, uh, you, doing?” only to remember who they were finally by the way they took their steps or pivot as they walked away.

With [M], thankfully, her identifying fingerprint was the way that she kinda scrunched her shoulders in a brief shrug when she smiled. The same arm mechanics that she used last time to extend her hand for a hand shake last time (loose at the wrist, with no tension in the fingers) came up to bear as she brought her hand up and waved at me from down the hall. It fit the pattern and my brain remembered who she was if not what her name was.

Over the next few days our paths would cross several times like this in the hospital. We’d make those little pleasant small talks that are the sort that, if only with a few laughs over nothing in particular, help me get through a day when the situation is getting all fubared. And it was always fubared, so it was always nice to run into her just like this or that.  You could probably count the actual number of minutes of our conversations in a day on one hand though, that’s how few and far apart free seconds were to just exchange knowing glances whenever some retarded situation came up.  And that was this habit that set her apart– she’d share a moment here and there with you just in the middle of that crazy department.

I didn’t really have to, because it wasn’t my charge, but on days where I’d be working FT, I’d find myself constantly just wandering over the main area to help out.  On some level, I hoped to see her and have our little ten second run-ins.  Oh, there she is!  Alright! Look busy.  And wait for her to notice you.  Ah, wave back! Or raise eyebrows! Or take a deep breath and shrug! Anything.

Over the course of the week I decided that at some point, I was going to ask her out to coffee.  Simple, right?  And the worst is that she could say no.

Well, knowing me, being the chicken shit that I am when it comes to asking someone out, it took a lot of deliberation.  Finally on Saturday, while I was waiting for some patients I’d called in to show up, she came up and we started chatting.  She mentioned that it was actually going to be her last day of training at my hospital.  I was surprised– we bitched about the pay and the stress– and wouldn’t you know it, before I had the chance to ask her out (and my heart was just in the redlines by now) I got interrupted by some parents with some silly questions.

I gave her the secret oh my god I can’t stand these people sometimes look and she bared her teeth in a knowing smile.  She went off to do her work and I went off to do mine.

I was watching the clock.  She’d be leaving within minutes.  I managed to see her giving her sitrep to the senior doctor she was working with from the other end of the dept, so I couldn’t interrupt.  I milled around for a bit and then suddenly she was free, but suddenly, I was called away to triage to deal with some patients who immediately needed to be seen.

I was thinking to myself fuck! Can I just have 5 damn minutes without someone coming in in an ambulance! Just stop dying or die you little fuckers!

So I went to take care of that as noncommitally as possible, then literally ran back to the doctors’ area.  People always see me running so it’s not a big deal when I’m bolting down the coorridor with my ID tag flapping into my face.  I get to the doctor’s area and I see her round the corner.  Someone taps me on the shoulder and asks me a question. I answer, hastily.  I quickly walk to where I saw her go.

I was, uh, wondering, would you like to get a coffee sometime?

And how long does it take to say that? God just give me a damn chance!

I manage to get out into the radiology hallway but then she’s a good 50 yards away from me, opening the door to the stairs.

I’m like, finally!  So I start making my way forward and wouldn’t you know it, I get interrupted, again.

By the time I make my way to the stairwell, I can’t find her anymore.   I climb the stairs in record time and make it to the floor with the med students have their orientation area, but she’s not there.

And you know, I don’t even know anything about her except her nickname, [M].

I went back to the department, feeling kinda lost. I just went back to work, a bit angry at myself.