Thursday, October 22, 2009

Learning to Sign

Is it just me or do doctors have the most illegible signatures, and writing for that matter, ever?  I always thought that there must be a class in medical school for learning to write that badly so that you could unlearn all the basic tools of letter formation drilled into you in grade school.  With that preface, I present the following story:

He looked like someone who hadn’t slept in over 45 hours would. Bags the size of walnuts under his eyes, tinted the bluish/redish purple that comes from hemoglobin degradation- he knew the term now- and hair and clothes that obviously needed a wash. It was a condition that everyone else in his class was suffering, some just wore it better. But it wasn’t the puffy eyes and hobo chic that bothered Greg when he looked at his friend. He was worried. No one else would notice it, but he did.

“Hey Ben, wait up” he called to his friend as they exited the library.

Ben looked over his shoulder and, not paying attention to where he was going, walked head-long into the glass doors that opened onto the quad. His arm full of books prevented him from doing any real damage to himself, but he dropped his load in a big pile at his feet. Greg came over and helped him gather his books.

“Wow, you’re worse than I thought, man,” Greg said as he picked up the painfully heavy anatomy book.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I know you’re tired and all but you’re better coordinated than that.”

“No, dude- it’s just these fucking finals have got me all up in my head and I’m not paying attention,” Ben explained. “I’m fine, though.”

“You are not fine, and you’re coming with me,” Greg said, standing up with the stack of books he’d picked up and walking out with them.

“Wait, gimme my books!” Ben called after him. He received a poisonous glare from a co-ed in his bio class and realized that shouting after making a huge scene with the books was probably not the best idea.

“Dude, gimme my books,” he whispered after him.

“Nope, you’re coming with me and if I have to hijack your books to get to follow then I will.”

Greg kept a steady pace across the quad and Ben followed on his heels, trying to wrangle the papers and other loose items that he’d hastily stacked back up. He almost barreled into him when Greg stopped short to peer over his shoulder and make sure he was following. They arrived back at their dorm and Ben expected to stop and receive his books so they could split off to their different rooms. But Greg kept going up the stairs the common room and Ben begrudgingly followed. When he arrived he roughly and loudly plopped the books down on the table which caused one of their dorm mates who had fallen asleep on his reading to bolt upright and let a startled “Whah!”

“Sorry,” Greg said in a hushed tone.

The man glared at him momentary then went about violently rubbing his eyes, seemingly trying to re-start them. Ben settled his stack on the table next to the books Greg had finally released and went about trying to reorganize the pile into its original form.

“Sit down for a second, talk to me,” Greg said. He was going for caring, concerned friend with the kidnapping but realized he might have come off as slightly more asshole. Ben’s refusal to look at him as he sorted through his papers supported the theory.

“Man, I so don’t have time for this. I got two exams tomorrow and at this rate I’m gonna flunk both of ‘em,” Ben complained.

“Well, which one are you more worried about?”

“The signature final.”

“Seriously? You’re actually this worried about the signature final? Dude, that is, and you’re not gonna find a single person on this campus who disagrees with me, the single easiest class we get. Sign your name illegibly, easier than breathing,” Greg argued.

“Ok, so I’m retarded, I can’t sign my fucking name so no one can read it, what an asshole I am,” Ben berated himself. Greg realized that demeaning his friend’s troubles might not have been the best tactic and tried to think of something he could do to make up for it. He wanted to help him, after all, not make him feel worse. He looked down at his hands somewhat sheepishly and noticed the stack of books. He had an idea.

Greg stood, grabbed the pile of books, picked them up, and raised them to his chest. Ben pushed up from the table to follow suit, thinking that they were moving again. Greg quickly slammed the stack back down on Ben’s right hand. He screamed and pulled his hand out from beneath the books.

“Fuck!” Ben said with the kind of passion that can only be created by intense physical pain. “What the fuck are you thinking?” he said, massaging his hand.

Greg grabbed a piece of scribbled-on loose leaf paper out of the stack, put it down on the table and handed Ben a pen.

“Sign your name.”

Ben cautiously took the pen from him and tried to hold it in his injured hand. He placed the tip down on the paper and applied pressure, then promptly let out a small yelp of pain.

“Oh, don’t be such a baby,” Greg said. “Just sign it.”

Ben slowly, painfully scribbled the letters down on the paper. He inspected it afterward and found it to be completely illegible. He couldn’t help but smile despite himself.

“You are such a fucking piece of shit,” he said as he looked up with that smile.

“That’s the thanks I get for helping you ace your final?”

“You didn’t ask me what the other exam tomorrow is,” Ben reminded him.

“What’s the other exam?”

“Microsurgery,” Ben said angrily.


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