The Nation's Health + people

Life Goes On

So, there I was, in Costa coffee, in the middle of town on a hot summers day, people watching! Throngs of people were rushing past in both directions, most with their mobile phone to their ear, the rest starring down at them as they walked. People don't break their stride for anything. Nothing can come in the way of routine.

Inside was the usual hustle and bustle of a busy coffee shop. The symphony of mobile phones, steam from the coffee machine, the chinks of china and metal spoons, the scraping of chairs and the dull hum of many discernible conversations echoed throughout the room. There I was doing my thing, there they were doing their thing.

I was deep in concentration and very task focused. Perhaps I didn't take care not to leave my bag in the way of the thoroughfare. Personally I didn't think it was too much in the way but hey, I guess it's subjective! A lady in a business suit, made a real song and dance over having to step over it, tutting as she did. I apologised and moved it out of her way so she could rush out and join the drones. I remember thinking 'that skirt is WAY too short, who's she trying to impress?!'.

It appears it wasn't only my bag in the way! Clearly I'd positioned myself in the worst place possible as within a minute a mum with a double buggy was trying to get by! This was NOT my fault. This thing was like a small car. You can't drive a car through a coffee shop so you shouldn't try and drive a tank of a buggy either! Anyway, rather than get in an argument about the rights and wrongs of double buggies weaving between coffee shop tables, I moved myself out the way and let her be on her way.

I looked around the room and everyone appeared to be in their own bubbles. Two people having in depth conversations, mothers talking to their babies, a few people reading their books or newspaper, others on their laptops and some starring at their phones, tapping away. Then there was the queue! We LOVE a queue in this country! It's all so ordered! The constant gaze at the menu and the perusing of the patisserie stand. the starring at the watches, the playing with the phone and the shuffle forward like a penguin when someone leaves! It's amazing to watch! This particular queue was gradually getting bigger and was now blocking the path to the toilets. Now more people had to come past me! That meant more tuts. Some people even knocked into me which I thought was a little off!

The chime of the door was constant, as people came and went. Their lives crossing with others for a few minutes and then going on their merry way. I wonder if they would recognise anyone that they saw in here! Would they recognise Costa's Baristas? Would they recognise the people they queued next to?! Would they recognise me?! That girl they nearly all bumped into! I wonder!

Oh, I forgot to mention....

"46 year old female, having a seizure, in Costa coffee"

I was at work! This woman's seizure wasn't going to stop itself. It was a very violent fit, you know, the full body shaking one's you see on TV! All my bags were open, and adding to the coffee shop symphony was the hiss of the oxygen cylinder, the beep of the Lifepack and the hum of the blood pressure cuff. Amongst the madness was me, cannulating and giving drugs and generally getting in the way!

Is it weird that life goes on around us?! Sure, people looked up and shared a glance but generally, a woman having a massive, life threatening seizure was just an inconvenience to most. After all, we have routines, targets and deadlines to meet. Do you think any of the people who bumped into me or stepped over my patient and my bags will get home 9 hours later and think 'I wonder if that woman is ok'?! Do you think they will even remember it?!

For the record, she died that afternoon. And when we moved her out of the shop, still fitting, we blocked the road for 5 minutes. How many people do you think cursed us?! Probably all the ones beeping their horns.

Life must go on after all, mustn't it?

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