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September 14, 2017 / Sandra Bossert

The Worst Marriage Proposal Ever

I was working with a Patient who barely spoke any english. The first day that I met him, I got a translation service who spoke english and spanish. In summary, he only wanted to speak about his housing and immigration problems. Over the few days that we met, I just could not convince him to speak about addiction. Far from it. He would keep changing the subject. On the last day we were to meet he spoke in an angry voice. In broken english. “Sandra you write letter I become citizen”?!?!?!?! I looked at the man like he had two heads. Now he is raising his voice. YOU WRITE LETTER I become citizen. Write it. NOW. He shoves a piece of paper in front of me and reaches to take my pen.

Since I was startled by this man yelling at me and taking my pen out of my hand it took me a moment to realize what he was doing. He was demanding that I marry him. I mean, what letter could I write that would even get him CONSIDERED for citizenship.

So I regrouped. Sir, I can not help you with your immigration status or your housing. If you want to talk about addiction, I may be able to help you.

I told Walter about this awful marriage proposal. He asked, “How much did the man offer to pay you”?!?!?

Nada.

If anything, he would probably try to make ME pay HIM.

A co-worker said “you can’t blame a man for trying”. Now that made me feel better.

If you want someone to marry you for a green card, this is NOT the way to propose.

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July 6, 2017 / Sandra Bossert

The Farm That Grew Legs and Crossed State Lines

Recently, a Patient asked me to assist him with making a long distance phone call. He spent almost one half hour trying to convince the person to pick him up at the hospital and drive him to Connecticut so he can work on a farm.

I could hear the man yelling through the phone “No! You are a liar. How many times do you think I am going to fall for that! How many times am I going to pick you up at a hospital so you can get high! For the entire phone call, the man did not waiver. My Patient’s tactics were getting more and more desperate sounding. “Do it for my mother who is sick and in another country”. “Do it so that I am working on a farm and can’t get high”. “Do it so I can earn a plane ticket and leave the country”. Eventually he got off the phone and was really upset.

The next day, I came in to work and the Patient was already making a request to see me immediately.

“Sandra, I need to go to NJ?!?!?!?”.

You’ve got to get the hospital to pay for me to go to NJ so I can work on a farm”.

I wondered but did not say out loud…what happened to CT?

Does this person think that I am stupid? Yesterday the farm was in Connecticut. Today the farm is in New Jersey. Am I to believe that a farm grew legs overnight and walked across  state lines?

I told the story to my colleagues and they could only shake their heads. Apparently, this Patient comes in every few months and gives the same story about needing to go work on a farm and we should pay for his transportation.

It was another first for me.

(c) 2017

April 15, 2017 / Sandra Bossert

Svent

It was another work day at Bellevue Hospital. My last question for my Patient was…are you interested in aftercare? A substance abuse rehab? Or maybe a long term residential program? Outpatient? Yes! The Patient exclaimed with enthusiasm. There is a place that I went to once and I want to return there.

Okay, great. I thought to myself. This is easy. A Patient who knows exactly what he wants.

“Svent. The Svent rehab in Rochester, New York. It is one hour outside of New York City”?!?!?

“Sir, would you please say that again”? I figured I had heard him wrong. First of all, Rochester New York is closer to Canada and nowhere near Manhattan. Second of all I have never heard of the Svent rehab.

“Svent”.

“Rochester, New York, right here near New York City”.

Where could he possibly mean?

I had him write it on my notepad. “Svent”.

Oh shit, this is going to be a long few days here with this Patient.

Of course, there was nowhere else that he wanted to go in case “Svent” didn’t have a bed for him.

I went and asked my colleagues with seniority. “Sandra, in my ten years at this job, I have never heard of Svent”. GREAT.

My colleagues brought it up at the morning meeting in my absence.  Needless to say, in all the collective wisdom of all the doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors etc… not one person has ever heard of Svent. I saw the minutes to the meeting. “Svent Unknown”. What a surprise.

For two days, the Patient insisted until finally he called me over.

“Sandra, I just remembered more information about the rehab that should help you”. It’s full name was SAINT VINCENTS and it is actually in Manhattan. Now THAT I have heard of!!!!

I never said Svent!!! I also never said Rochester. I whipped out my notebook and pointed out that in his very own handwriting he wrote Svent.

It was an abbreviation. Somebody kill me. St. Vincents. Svent.

(c) 2017

 

 

 

April 3, 2017 / Sandra Bossert

The Dumb Animals of Australia and Wells Fargo

A man (Patty) came into the detox. He was covered in huge red spots all over his skin. His hair was very long and he was unkempt. It took several days until he was healthy and detoxed enough to meet with me for his assessment. During our interview, I found out that this homeless man on the streets of New York City was a Veteran (a Marine), retired fire fighter and 9-11 Rescuer. He explained that he is like a local celebrity at all the police stations and firehouses. This is because if people need help he will not hesitate to call the police or even hold criminals in a choke hold until they are handed over to the police.

“Let me tell you a story”. I couldn’t begin to imagine what the story might be.

I was sitting in the park. A man came out of his high rise apartment and was headed in my direction. I asked him, “Where are you from? Ireland?”. “No, he replied. I am from Australia”. “Oh, where all the dumb animals are”. “Dumb animals? What do you mean the dumb animals of Australia?” Patty became very passionate and told me what he said about all the dumb animals. He told me the two men got into a 45 minute conversation about the animals and how kangaroos box, other animals are “strange looking”, which ones have big ears; you name it.

Tommy added…at the end of the conversation the man asked me to come with him. Having nothing else to do, I took a walk with him.

He brought me to…the Wells Fargo bank ATM.

I felt myself leaning in to hear what was going to happen next.

Were they going to rob the bank? Commit a crime? I had no idea where this story was going.

Patty raised his voice. Would you believe he took out $100 and gave it to me!?!?!

Then the next time he came out of his high rise and I said hello we talked again for a long time. He walked me to the ATM again and gave me $40.

“Sandra don’t get me wrong. He’s not gay or anything. He is married and all. It’s just that he likes me and he wants to help me”.

I am sure we will see each other again”.

He then went back to the last question that I asked and answered it as if he never told me this story.

Patty said that everyone tells him he needs to write a book about his life. From what little I know about him, I think he should too.

(c) 2017

 

 

 

March 4, 2017 / Sandra Bossert

The Mayor

It was another work day at the Bellevue Hospital detox unit. Two patients were standing outside in the hallway and were not in their respective rooms. One man saw me, saw I had a work badge on and he started on a rant. “You know…the food was not very tasty. It did not have a lot of seasoning!?! My sheets weren’t the most comfortable. How am I supposed to sleep? Oh, and then there is the medication. Don’t even get me started! I should be getting a higher dose of this and that and while I think about it a detox should have coffee, tea and a snack bar!?!? Why doesn’t your detox have a snack bar?

His voice was getting louder and louder and his demeanor more angry. In my head I was trying to think of an exit strategy without being rude to the patient. What does he think this is? A high end resort?

My biggest problem with this place is…I couldn’t even imagine what he was going to say.

We don’t get to stay long enough!?!??!

WHAT!!!

Until this moment I was sure he was going to end his rant with saying that he wants to leave and be given discharge papers immediately. His biggest complaint is he wants to stay longer!!!

If his rant wasn’t bad enough, now the other patient is joining in and sounding like a church choir member. YES! Amen! He is right! Oh, the food! Right on point! Now the second patient is starting to express his displeasure. Back to the first patient.

You know something? I think the Mayor of New York City needs to know about this place so he can de fund you guys and shut you down. Which is it I wondered? Is he mad that he wants to stay longer or does he want it shut down?

OH YEAH? Shouted the second patient. I DEMAND TO SPEAK TO THE MAYOR OF BELLEVUE!!!! I did a double take. Doing my best not to crack a smile and to try to take this entire thing seriously, I looked over and saw that both patients were actually serious. They want to contact Mayor De Blasio and a fictitious mayor of Bellevue that doesn’t exist.

After much negotiating, I was able to convince them both that a Patient Advocate is the right place to start. I gave them the phone number to our in house advocate and it seemed to appease them.

Sometimes I wonder where these people come from. One thing I can say. It is never boring in the heart of New York City and Bellevue Hospital.

(c) 2017

 

 

 

 

 

February 21, 2017 / Sandra Bossert

The Bellevue Birthday Party

At my last job at a small non profit, the owner of the company was throwing her spouse and our Vice President, a surprise birthday party. A birthday cake was ready on the fifth floor. We employees, in pied piper formation, walked behind the co-worker with his ukulele and marched out of the elevator singing “happy birthday”. For the most part, any workplace that I have been a part of has had some sort of variation of that birthday celebration.

Then, there is Bellevue.

My colleague, Ross, came and got me. “Come with me Sandra; we are about to surprise Kim. It is her birthday”. As the newest employee, it was my first time celebrating someone’s birthday at Bellevue. I was very pleased to be included. The employee lounge was decorated and the table was filled with all kinds of food. Colleagues were signing birthday cards, there was a bouquet of flowers and also a bottle of wine. More and more colleagues were entering the room until it was standing room only and people were out the doors. The atmosphere was very happy and festive.

It started off as any birthday party would. After Kim entered the room and the “happy birthday” song was finished, everyone started eating the food. Conversation started back and forth. After a short amount of time, I heard Kim say that she wonders if she is allowed to open her bottle of wine and share it. She didn’t open the bottle; we work in a detox unit for people with Alcohol addictions. However, I piped up and said…well, it is your 21st birthday! She liked that and told us that actually, this year she can join AARP and is officially a senior citizen.

Everyone was enjoying the party. Kim was of course, the center of attention. Then she started talking about how if she could go back in time, there is a lot of things that she would change in her life. She would have had her children later in life. Then there is that trip she would have taken and she would have delayed her marriage until she was older. “It was because I had strict parents that today would have been defined as abusive. I wanted to get away from them”!?!

A second co-worker started commiserating with Kim and that her childhood was the same way. A third co-worker’s demeanor changed from happy to sad and he started relating about how he would have redone things in his life also. Another and another joined in. There were tales of growing up with strict parents and even abuse and how people would do things differently if they could coming from every direction of the room. Mind you, nobody opened the bottle of wine and this was happening!

This is a birthday party????

Yet, everyone seemed to have happy looks on their faces like all the other birthday parties throughout my career.

On the up side, can I look forward to this comfort level with this group of colleagues in the future? Eh. Probably not.

Or am I missing something here?

I guess I just need to chalk it up to…it is a Bellevue birthday party. LOL

I am not so sure if I am looking forward to the next one.

(2017)

 

 

 

February 12, 2017 / Sandra Bossert

Married…Without Knowing It

It was a cold Wednesday in January and two days before the inauguration of our now President Trump. It was also my day off from work. I finally reached the amount of time at my new job that not only could I have various health benefits but Walter could also. All we needed was specific paperwork for New York City workers that could be obtained at the courthouse. I realized that it was the same day as my trade organization meeting. That meeting is also held in the courthouse building. So Walter and I made a plan. Several hours before my meeting, we would go get the papers. Afterwards, I would go to the meeting in the other part of the building.

When Walter and I got to the courthouse, we were directed to the office that we needed. Interestingly, it was also the office that marries people, gives domestic partnership papers…and GUN permits. It made for an interesting crowd. We got to the office and the line was out of the office and down the hall. It was being run like Motor Vehicles with one major difference. It was FILLED with brides, grooms and their wedding parties. We couldn’t help but wonder if the Trump inauguration had anything to do with it. A lot of the bride – groom match ups did not seem to be couples looking like they are in love. I will say that much. Hours went by and announcements were made. “F17 to booth 1”. “G100 to booth 2”. More and more brides and grooms entered the room mixed in with very few gun permit people. What a combination!!! We were half concerned that some of these brides and grooms would re enter for gun permits!?!? Anyway…after many hours, we finally got to the front of the DMV type line. We told them what we needed, showed them the documentation that I am a City worker and were handed a bag of additional legal originals so we can follow the directions of providing original documentation. We rushed out so that I would not miss the rest of the meeting.

After going home, I asked Walter to get me the papers so I could bring them to work the next day. “Sandra, I want to show you something”. Walter was smiling. I looked at the first document. It stated that we were…MARRIED!!!! WHAT!!!! I felt my face turn pale as a ghost and we all know I am as pale as a ghost to start with. Every document stated that we were married. WE WERE MARRIED BY ACCIDENT!!!!

Walter went back on Friday to correct the papers. He was told that the computers were down and they could not fix anything until next week!!!!  When Walter finally was able to go back, a different person helped him. She apologized profusely. She told Walter that the woman who made the mistake is one of those people who never asks questions when she doesn’t know something. Everything was corrected. The woman encouraged Walter to come and ask for her when it is time for Walter and I to get married. She would give us the right papers.

I told the story to one of my very best friends since the 2nd grade (Kelly Tighe-Viscosi) and she said that something like this happening in my life does not surprise her one bit!

(c) 2017