Showcase and I were in line at the local Sav-on around 9:30 on Wednesday night. We'd stopped to pick up Diet Coke and some snacks. As we approached the checkout counter, it dawned on me that there were a couple of things I could use for my trip to Bonnaroo next week and I could save myself a trip back here in a couple of days if I just went back and grabbed my items now. I told Showcase to hang on and that I'd be right back.
"Caution" signs were up in every single aisle of the store. The janitorial crew had already begun washing the floors, even though it was almost 30 minutes before closing. The bottoms of my black rubber flip flops slid a little as I carefully navigated my way down the skin care aisle, and I caught my balance on one of the shelves. I selected a bottle of spray-on SPF 50 specially formulated for baby's sensitive skin before grabbing a tiny bottle of Purell. It was the best thing I thought to bring to Coachella two years ago. There aren't exactly tons of places to wash your hands from the filthy ground before shoving food into your mouth at these big music festivals and the Purell was soon envied and borrowed by most of my friends.
Turning around to head back to the register, I looked for an aisle that wasn't being mopped down. Every single one had a "caution" sign up. There was literally nowhere to go. So I gingerly tread up the one in front of me toward Showcase, who was now waiting for me by the door. Just as I thought I'd made it to safety, my legs slid from under me, and I made a perfect Hollywood pratfall onto the slick linoleum. Everything I was holding went flying as I landed hard, my right elbow absorbing most of the impact. I'm certain it was hilarious to watch. I know Showcase was cackling until he realized the severity of the situation.
The first thing I saw as I looked up from my prone position on the floor was the older Mexican security guard offering me a hand back up. I took his leathery palm and got on my feet. I thought I was OK, until I felt the searing pain in my elbow maybe fifteen seconds later. I grabbed it with my left hand and hissed through clenched teeth at the approaching store manager.
"What the hell is wrong with you people? Washing every inch of floor while people are still walking around in here? You couldn't wait?!"
Showcase rushed over to see if I was OK. I took my hand off my elbow and it was covered in blood. The shock was wearing off and the pain began to register. I wasn't OK. I wasn't just going to shake it off and be home in fifteen minutes. Pain shot up my arm and I broke down in heavy sobs as the manager, the security guard, and two now-petrified janitors gave me frozen stares while I bled all over my own hand.
That's when Showcase took charge. No one was even moving to help me out. The fear of all four of them losing their dead-end $9/hr jobs was painted plainly across their slack-jawed faces.
"Can one of you do something and get her a towel? Come on, she's bleeding all over the place! Which one of you is the manager? Is there a SINGLE ONE OF THESE AISLES we can walk down toward the restroom without this happening again!"
I threw off my shoes and trudged barefoot and teary toward the back of the store, hanging on to Showcase's shoulder with my good arm. Once inside the restroom, we took a look at the gash on my elbow. It was over an inch long and maybe a half inch deep. I tried to clean it off a little, but yelped in pain as soon as the cool water hit the wound.
"You're gonna have to go to the ER. It's pretty bad."
"You have to. It's way too deep."
"But I don't have health insurance anymore!"
"It expired 8 days ago. I can't afford a hospital bill."
"Doesn't matter. They're paying for this."
Showcase got me into a chair at the back of the store and managed to find the only calm, English-speaking employee in the entire place-- a fortysomething Asian pharmacist. He looked at my gash, told Showcase to take me to Cedars-Sinai for stitches, and gave me 800 mg of Motrin to ease the pain and swelling. I sat there, heaving in pain for what seemed like half an hour while Showcase filled out an incident report with the store manager. All the while, the two janitors just stood there, staring at me while I sobbed and bled.
On our way out, one of the janitors started speaking to the security guard in Spanish. I took enough Espanol in high school and college to understand what she was saying. She was blaming my fall on my shoes. The black rubber flip flops.
"How dare you? This is your fault and nothing to do with my zapatos!" I seethed as Showcase led me to the car.
As we drove to Cedars, I started to calm down a little as the shock wore off and my inner degenerate gambler re-emerged.
"What do you think's the over-under on when I actually get stitched up?
"I'll take the over."
Fifteen minutes later, we were in the Emergency Room. Showcase filled out my paperwork since I'm not a lefty.
"Date of birth 6-26, right?"
"Have you ever been treated at Cedars before?"
"Were you born at Cedars?"
"And... your treating physician may be a part of a cable reality show on hospitals. Do you wish to sign a release allowing your likeness to be used?"
"Kidding. But keep your eyes out for Suri Cruise. Perfect time of night for a clandestine celebrity well-baby visit."
Kelly, the tall, blonde candy-striper who helped admit me was hot. Showcase doesn't normally go for blondes, but his mouth hung open as she iced my elbow and asked me questions about what happened. There was something familiar about her to me, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Showcase later discovered that she was in a recent credit card commercial. An actress/candy striper. Only in L.A.
I was taken back pretty quickly (bleeding and crying a lot helped that along). A sandy haired ex-fratboy type doc came and examined my arm. He was hot too (were there any ugly people in this hospital?) and I could only imagine how shitty I looked with puffy red eyes, a gaping wound, and no makeup. Dr. McDreamy got me a bed with a TV and once he stepped away, I instantly started channel surfing. I was looking for the Travel Channel, since the WPT was on, but had to settle for SportsCenter and a rerun of the National Spelling Bee.
One curtain over from me was an enormous black man with an equally enormous boil near his right eyebrow. The doctor was scolding him for having waited so long to get it looked at. He grunted in such terrible pain as the nurse drained it that they had to give him two shots of morphine. I saw her walk away with an entire jar of pus.
Kelly came in and checked on me a couple of times, reporting back to a nervous Showcase. You know, I'll just let him tell this part:
So the hot blonde girl comes back out of the ER with a strange look on her face. She says "I have some bad news, your friend threw a tantrum and we had to sedate her." I put my hands on my hips, gazed at the floor and muttered "oh, Jesus" as I imagined her hurling insults and four letter words at the doctors.
The idea that she was kidding didn't even cross my mind.
For me, the worst part of the entire ordeal was the actual numbing and stitching of the wound. I hate blood, I'm a wuss in terms of pain and I avoid doctors whenever I can. I nearly fainted as the enormous needle was pressed into my gaping, bleeding flesh despite the numbing powers the anesthesia promised. I'd heard the boil guy scream and he got morphine. Once the sewing of the flesh began, I got so nauseous I had to turn the other way.
I got discharged with a thick gauze bandage around my wound and no good drugs. It was a good thing Showcase had a few spare Vicodins lying around from when he got his wisdom teeth pulled last month. Otherwise I would have never fallen asleep.
So now I possibly have to sue Sav-on. Showcase went back there the next day to speak to the manager and he wouldn't even give him a claim form, let alone a copy of the incident report. The stonewalling has already begun. And it's at times like this that I'm incredibly grateful I'm a lawyer's daughter.
When I was in grade school, my best friend's mom had a thing for suing people. I swear to God, Linda James must have redone her Cheviot Hills home four or five times over the years with her lawsuit money. Love tap rear-ender on Wilshire Blvd? Out comes the neck brace. Nine months later, there's a pair of $4000 Italian silk couches in her living room. Allergic reaction to the rugs in the Disneyland Hotel? How about a pool and some new landscaping? My family got a kick out of Linda, though I know my father was always a little jealous of the money. Unfortunately, he may be the only lawyer in L.A. County with a moral compass. It also explains why he never got rich.
So Dad helped me write a firm yet polite legal letter to the fuckwads at Savon. I'm not looking to soak anyone here. I just don't want to get stuck with a ER bill in the thousands because a couple of minimum wage monkeys wanted to go home early. And an extra grand for that lip from the bitch that caused me to fall in the first place wouldn't hurt. I guess I'm destined to go one more round with bureaucracy.
I'm feeling much better now. I couldn't drive for a couple of days, but now I can move it around and I'll be fine for Bonnaroo, though I have to be extra careful to not bump it into anything. I leave in 24 hours and I'll be completely unplugged for the six days I'll be in Tennessee. No email. No poker. Nada. Just friends, music, air, sky, and hopefully good drugs.
A few stitches can't wreck that.