That section of Mahon which deals with blood tests and samples opens at 7.30 am. It has to open early because all the people there who are waiting for a blood test have had nothing to eat and tempers are running high.
I got there at about 7.20 and was delighted with all the polite smiles and nods. One man helpfully pointed out who was last (and therefore who I would be after) and everyone nodded and smiled at me again. Little did I know that this show of civility was but a thin veneer and as soon as the door opened any thought of an orderly queue forming was out the window as the mob stampeded through it in a mad rammy to get the first ticket.
Swept along in the crowd I did not do badly and settled down with yesterday’s crossword to wait my turn. When my number was called I went to the desk where I received a clutch of test tubes and was prodded down the corridor to wait in another queue. The pressure was obviously on down this hall as polite smiles had given way to stony-faced attention on the lab doors.
The test-tube nurse was cracking through her job while the blood-taking nurses were backing up quite a bit. More people began to fill the little corridor and those inside the blood-letting chamber seemed not to want to leave. We all glanced at each other nervously when one woman let out a chilling groan. Dear God! What were they doing to her?
The man beside me started to sweat and I was reminded of an old friend, Jeff who fainted at the birth of his son. Jeff didn’t go bottoms up at the good bit though, oh no, he hit the deck when he saw the nurse inject his wife with a mild sedative. He was papped out of the delivery room and spent the rest of Anne’s labour in a spare bed down the hall.
At last there was some movement at the door and a couple exited. A dapper little chap in a crisp white shirt was out his seat and through that door like a bullet out a gun. He certainly came right out of left field as he’d been so quiet and relaxed no-one was prepared for him to make his bid for the blood room. The man next to me let out a great sigh and shook his head. He obviously felt he should have been next but fear had welded his bottom to the chair.
By now the hall was getting quite claustrophobic but through the wall of bodies barreled an enormous woman who breenged into the blood room demanding she be seen to next. As one woman up the corridor rose to her feet to protest, an elderly man shooed her back to her seat and took the arrogant queue-jumper to task himself. Just at that point there was a loud crash and through the door to blood room number 2, I could see a pair of finely turned ankles as my dapper little man from before keeled over like a felled oak. One male nurse grabbed his ankles and another his shoulders and they humphed him past the door and out of sight but not before I noticed the poor lad’s skin. He’d gone a startling primrose yellow which might be a pretty colour for the front room but is not such a good look on your face.
By now the queue jumper was bellowing back at the elderly man, “Diabetico!”. She was obviously laying it on thick about being diabetic and having no breakfast but the crowd were not impressed and the large lady ended up stamping off in a huff.
By now I had completely lost track of who was next but I suspected that if I didn’t go into action soon I’d be pushed past by the growing mob at my back. As the groaner finally exited Door number 1 I leapt to my feet waving my little pink ticket and through into the little cubicle where a pretty nurse sat unruffled by all the drama. She chatted away at me obviously totally unfazed by all the shouting and fainting.
As she stuck the needle in I glanced away and there on the other side was the once dapper, yellow man beginning to come round. I was glad to see his colour was coming back and that he would be alright. Finished with me now, the chatty nurse tapped my wrist and waved me off with a big smile. It’s always nice to see people enjoying their jobs but I suspect she was enjoying the morning’s entertainment and I wonder if it is always quite so lively at the Mahon blood clinic.
If you have to go, get there early – before 7.30. Take a ticket as soon as the doors open and after you are given your test tubes go right up the corridor to the far end. That way you are right in front of the lab doors and queue jumpers can’t get past you.