The Long-Lived Case of the Library Vagrant
Last January was cold. Weather forecasters threatened us with "Snowpocalypse." New Yorkers were miserable. Everyone hid inside for warmth as much as possible. We even had a patient who nearly froze to death in his own apartment, but I digress- that's a story for another day.
We spent a lot of time in the hospital library last January. We mostly needed somewhere to wait that was warm. We'd stake out and claim functioning computers (of which there were few) to do our homework while we oh-so-patiently waited on our attending to show up. He would either mosey in around 3PM or simply not show up at all. When he did show he spent a lot of time justifying his lateness by complaining about the cold and having to dig his car out.
The hospital library is not a nice place. There are maybe half a dozen functioning computers in the entire place (out of probably 40 or so). The computers that do work are hot commodities. It's like middle school all over again, people will "claim" a spot and have an ungodly hissy fit if you ever so politely ask them how long they might be or anything along those lines.
Now, imagine if you will, that one of those so-called "spot claimers" is an old lady. She looks to be early grandmother age. She wears a white coat, but no visible name tag. She claims a computer all day, every day. However, she does not use said computer. She instead either "studies" from a Step 1 book or sleeps with her head resting gently upon the Step 1 book which is resting gently upon the keyboard of one of the rare functioning computers. Because, even though I never ever saw her actually use a computer, she always managed to sit at one of the ones that worked.
I decided to keep my eye out for her. She must have been a student. She had a short white coat... She must have just been on a crappy rotation like us that required lots of waiting. Right? She must have been a student.... Even though she sort of looked completely out of place.... Someone would have noticed if she wasn't a student, right? RIGHT?
By the time January was over, we had been freed from our late attending and our library waiting, the mystery library lady was mostly forgotten.
Over the next couple of months though, I always looked for her when I went to the library, and there she'd be- reading that same book or sleeping, still not using the computer she was sitting at.
One day, probably in August, a friend from the hospital asked if we had heard about the drama with the "library vagrant."
L and I looked at each other- it couldn't possibly be the old lady student, could it?
One of the residents was apparently frustrated about the lack of available computers and asked the old lady student to move since she wasn't using her computer. Old lady student refused and started causing a ruckus. Resident replied in kind and the ruckus got louder. Big scary librarian gets involved. Librarian demands to know who old lady student is, old lady student just keeps saying she's "studying" so that makes her a "student." Librarian finally establishes that old lady student is in no way shape or form a registered student of any kind at this hospital and has just been hanging around for months. And months. And months. All she did was pick up a white coat and a read a medical book and no one questioned her for MONTHS. The big scary librarian kicked her out and told her not to come back.
It's January again and it's really really really cold again. I can only hope that old lady student has found somewhere new to hang out and nap that's warm.