Falling Down on the Job


Four women in gowns recently hovered over me while I was on my back. Before you think this is some sort of sordid story more suited for the pages of an adult magazine, let me explain …

The women were nurses. The gowns were hospital garb. And I was on my back because I passed out in the middle of the post-surgical recovery room while waiting for my dad to be released.

Last year, I accompanied my father to the hospital for a hernia operation. My mom does not handle medical matters or stress too well, so I spent the day with my dad at the hospital. Luckily, it was not a serious operation, and the doctor said that it would only take an hour or so.

But by the time my dad went under the knife, it was too early for lunch and too late for a supplemental breakfast. I had gotten up at about 5:30 or so in order to get there early. So, I sat in the waiting room for a couple hours. I didn't want to lose my seat or miss the doctor's call, so I skipped lunch or beverages.

The surgery took longer than the doctor anticipated. By about 2 p.m., however, I was able to go into recovery and sit with my dad.

A delicate combination of fatigue, dehydration, malnourishment, low-grade stress and a distaste for the people walking around with tubes sticking out of them, along with all of the graphic medical discussions going on around us, made for a dangerous combustion.

As I waited with my dad, I tried to make small talk. It's not easy to realize that your parents are not immortal rocks, especially when I think that by when my dad was my age, he had two sons, a wife, a mother and mother-in-law under his care.

I have a couple of plants.

When some guy emerged from a nearby bathroom with tubes extending from his body — with a loud announcement of what transpired and didn't transpire in the toilet — things started getting a bit foggy.

Then, I began to sweat. I got nauseous. I unzipped my fleece jacket, leaned up against the wall and said to my dad, "I think I'm going to pass … "

The next thing I knew I was on my back with the nurses all around me. From the initial onset of sweat to waking up on the floor, maybe 30 seconds passed. My crash made quite a scene. The chair I was sitting in, my reading materials, jacket, even my glasses were all over the place, while my recently sewn-up father sat powerless.

The nurses took my vitals, brought me a soda and then a sandwich, and wanted to check me in. I took the food and avoided the emergency room; I'd spent enough time there as a soccer player growing up.

It was quite embarrassing. But at least I know how to take a fall.

The Story: Part II
This wouldn't be much of a singles story, if this was the only time I passed out like that. But the only other time something like this happened to me was about five or six years earlier at a singles dance at a club in New York City.

That incident, too, was bizarre, and came out of nowhere. There, I was talking with this cute girl. Despite the thumping dance music, we were having a nice conversation, talking about news, travel, sports; suddenly, I collapsed, practically on top of her.

The next thing I knew, a couple of guys were picking me up from the floor. The odd thing was, I had eaten dinner and had not had any alcohol at the club.

The girl stayed with me as I recovered. We left the club, and I bought a Coke at a nearby store. We sat in the lobby of a restaurant, talking. She was nice about it.

But she sure wasn't interested in seeing me again after that. I gave her my card, and she declined to give me her telephone number. I guess the way to a girl's heart is not passing out in front of her.

About four months later, I went to a similar party at the same club with a friend when we saw a girl pass out in practically the exact same spot where I hit the deck. Maybe it was a coincidence. Maybe the bartender was up to some shenanigans. Who knows?

All I know is the girl I nearly fell on did not want to have anything to do with me after that. There has to be a better way to make a pass at a woman.

Roy S. Gutterman is a Syracuse, N.Y.-based writer. E-mail him at: www.Lrev.com.