Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Character Building...sorta

To make a long story short, I spent many hours in the Emergency Room Sunday evening and Monday morning. Don’t worry, everyone is fine, and the biggest lingering effect is that I’m far too old to stay up until 3am.

Writers are supposed to people watch, gleaning little nuggets of interest to add to our characters. People watching at the ER in the wee hours of the am will definitely provide nuggets of something, but I write for Modern Heat/Presents, not the Jerry Springer show. After four hours there, I don’t have a single thing I can use.

But it was interesting. Like the twenty-three people who accompanied two bleeding people into the ER. You read that right—twenty-three. I counted twice to be sure. Why they were all there, I don’t know. But they certainly filled the waiting area with, umm, color. Then the police showed up to take pictures of the bleeding couple. I wanted to fix my lipstick because I figured the crew of COPS would be coming through the door next. I didn’t want to be on TV looking less than my best, you know (or the best I could, all things considered).

Then there was the sign showing a picture of handcuffs with the warning: Restraints must be removed before defibrillator use. Umm, is this a real issue? What kind of people are being brought into this ER? I live in Alabama, not New York...

There was your average assortment of folks vomiting and coughing up a lung. I, germaphobe that I am, was digging through my purse for my anti-bacterial wipes, convinced I’d catch bubonic plague before I got out of there. Monk would have been proud of me and my sanitizing efforts.

I got to overhear some very interesting conversations—the kind that normally only happen on the Springer stage, only without the bitch-slapping and chair throwing. The security guards were keeping close watch, just in case.

So this was how I spent quality time with Counselor Shelley Sunday evening. Not quite the wild days of our youth. We sat there, doing crosswords and Sudoku until we got bored with that, then Counselor Shelley read me diagnoses out of the DSM-IV for a while. Wild times, I tell you.

So, what did I get out of my visit to the ER, other than sleep deprivation and a big bill? Well, nothing I can use for my next book, sadly. I mean, my books are supposed to have a touch of glamour to them, and there was no glamour to be found. No alpha heroes or spunky heroines (Shelley and myself included—we were too tired and too... well... slightly afraid to be considered heroines). No heroic doctors, either. Le sigh. What a waste.

I did get some nice pain killers and an excuse to lay around in the bed all day Monday. So maybe it wasn’t a total waste.

Gotta look on the bright side, you know. :-)

So, where do you people watch? Any good characters there?



Playground Monitor said...

You should have taken notes for me. This is the stuff True Confessions is made of. LOL! I hope there's not a next time, but if there is, get all the juicy details for me, okay?

Court is a good place to watch people. Only thing is, court's the last place you want to be. We had to go years ago when the DH was in an auto accident. I think he and I had more teeth between us than the rest of the courtroom combined. It was truly a Springer moment and one I hope I never have to repeat.

Glad you're doing better.


Jane said...

I mostly people watch on the subway and in the park during lunch time. I You catch all sorts of interesting conversations on the subway and on the train platforms.

Rhonda Nelson said...

Ack, PC! Hope you're feeling better!

KansasSue said...

Goodness. I hope you mend soon!

When I used to fly, I'd loved to people watch at airports. You *know* that someone there has to be a spy. Who is it?

The one and only time I went to Vegas (at least 20 years ago), the mister and I sat at the bottom of the spiral promenade at the Tropicana, ordered pizza and a pitcher of beer, and watched the crowd gathering along the spiral walkway, waiting to get in to the Folly Bergere. Our lives are so exciting we still talk about the people we saw that night - and the stories we made up to fit them.

MaryF said...

I am sorry to hear about your horrid visit to the E.R.

And actually you were there on a tame night...you didn't get to see a wrestle off, or even more fun, the prisoner that is accompanied by guards from jail, that's always unique.

Actually, I use those moments (not just E.R. but the Jerry Springer situations in general)for my secondary characters and amusing moments (although you were in pain, not so funny).

I get my observations over time, there is glamour sometimes, and heroic moments (even in hospitals) but you have to wade through a lot of "what the he**" moments.

Ok, no more caffiene for me today...I go to drag my wit and wisdom to my co-workers...(I pity them...)

birdzilla said...

Sorry to hear about it PC

I fully understand the whole ER little world. As a frequent guest of the local medical facility myself (actually just about every medical facility I am close to), the small scenarios of drama tend to make me feel better about my life as a whole.

Imstigator always tells me (in generally a less than polite way) that I go about looking for trouble.
Nope, not me, trouble seems to know just about where I am most of the time. Sometimes I feel like I pissed it off sometime in the past. Maybe I stole his girlfriend once before or did not play with it at recess once. I do not know.

Get better soon.

Jolie said...

Oh, no, PC! I hope all is well with you! :(

As far as people watching...it's my absolute favorite thing to do. We have a racetrack here (late model auto racing) and I get LOTS of inspiration from the fans there. Most of it Springer-worthy, too. :) Though, seriously, a lot of good looking men frequent the track, too. I've found faces for a few of my heroes there. :P

Jolie said...

Oh, I forgot! I got my goodie pack yesterday, PC!!! How'd you know I love salt water taffy!? LOL It's gone already, because, well, my kids love it too. ;) So, thank you, thank you, thank you for all the goodies! I felt so special opening all that stuff!! :)

Sherry W. said...

Ok, thank goodness I am by myself at work cos I was cracking up at this blog!
I LOVE to people watch. My hubby calls it nosey, I call it research. I am constantly amazed by what people will do in a public place.
I like scoping out the people at the mall. There is a wide variety to choose from.

Hope you're feeling better!!

Jean said...

PC—hope you are okay.

My favorite place to people watch is The Hard Dock Café. (I don't know if the Hard Rock knows or care about the name.) It really is on a dock on the river, two minutes from my house. The clientele is a mix of bikers, boaters, and the local country club set. Go there and you are going to see some tattoos and Ralph Lauren. Once there was a birthday party at the next table comprised of widows on the make. The band is usually some local boys who are guaranteed to sing Brown Eyed Girl before the night is done. My most memorable time was the night I had to put Stephanie to bed. She didn't start out to do tequila shots, but does anybody ever?

Anonymous said...

Funny Birdzilla!!! I like people watching at the mall, any event in general - what total entertainment. Even some of my coworkers should be on Jerry Springer and I work at a college.
Hope you feel better soon.

Instigator said...

I hope you're feeling better now, PC!

I like to people watch at the mall too. You get a real cross section there.

Jean, 'Zilla and I used to go to the Hard Dock all the time. It had been years since we'd gone but went several months ago...with the girls, my parents, my sisters and brothers, their wives/husbands and their kids. It was a zoo. :-) I think we spilled at least 5 drinks and had to move tables for the band. But it was such a great time. I love the atmosphere there. We need to go again soon. I always forget about it.


Angel said...

I'm constantly eavesdropping on other people's conversations. Drives my husband crazy! We'll be in a restaurant, and I'm staring into space while I listen to the couple behind us talk about Lord knows what. Very entertaining. :)

Yep, the mall is a great place. I'm afraid we don't have much around here to hang out at. Not that I have time for that...

Glad you're feeling better, PC!


Problem Child said...

'Zilla, I know how you feel.

I never go looking for trouble--trouble just leaps upon me when I least expect it!

Add to that my tendency to be accident-prone, and it's a wonder I don't start writing for Springer.

PM's Mother said...

The MOST fun I ever had people watching happened several years ago. My friend and I were attending a Boston Pops concert at Tanglewood.

We were sitting outside in the shade with a lovely breeze to cool us. Just to our left of us on a slight knoll was a couple who were apparently celebrating a special occasion. They had covered the grass with what appeared to be an oriental carpet. Upon it they had placed two white rattan throne-like chairs and several pedestals with urns of flowers and ferns. A small table covered with a floor-length white tablecloth contained silver candelabra with flaming candles, silver bowls with fruit, a champagne cooler with a bottle of bubbly and two crystal champagne flutes. Their demeanor was that of two happy people celebrating an event.

What we enjoyed watching was not these people, but watching the people walking by, doing double-takes and then standing there gaping at the celebratory couple. Some even came back dragging their friends to see this sight. And all of this was accompanied by the cello music of Yo Yo Ma.

After the concert, we casually picked up our plastic and aluminum lawn chairs and walked to the car. These people pulled in a U-Haul trailer to remove their scenario.

Liza said...

Hope you are feeling better PC! I love to people watch when I'm in the airport.

Crystal Lee said...

PC, I hope you are feeling better!

It's interesting to watch people under pressure at the university where I work. Some ducks let the water roll off their backs...some don't.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Wow, hope all is better, PC! I always loved people watching in Europe. But any cafe will do, really. Even the B&N cafe. I can't think of any particular characters, though.

Jean, I've been to the Hard Dock a couple of times. You are SO right about characters there. :)

Smarty Pants said...

I do a lot of people watching in restaurants. It annoys DB to no end. I'll be zoned out, listening to something and I'll hear him mutter "Nosy." I can't help it. I'm a student of human nature. That, or I'm just nosy.

Feel better.

Jen said...

Aw, c'mon, PC, I want the Jerry Springer snippets.