Wednesday, February 27, 2008

All I Wanted Was A Bowl Of Clam Chowder

About a hundred million years ago, one Tuesday in March, I finished nursing school. I wouldn't graduate until June and I wouldn't sit for my boards for at least a month.  My boyfriend at the time, Evil Steve, asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate.  I said that I would love to drive to the coast, go to a little place called Jenner By The Sea and have a bowl of clam chowder.  Since Evil Steve was also known as Cheapo Steve, he was delighted that I said clam chowder instead of steak and lobster. He said that he would pick me up that Saturday and fulfill my request.

(It would be good to note that when HE graduated from college, I took him to southern California for a week; Disneyland, Mexico, LA, the whole deal.)

Friday night, when all Seventh Day Adventist nursing school students should be sitting in church for Vespers, I went down to Calistoga with some of my other sinful classmates to celebrate the end of the quarter.  A whole bunch of beers and several badly sung karaoke songs later, I was poured into bed.  I awoke Saturday morning with a huge headache and a queasy stomach.  I knew it was going to be a long drive, so I forced myself to eat breakfast, downed some Motrin and got ready for my big day.

Evil Steve was late, as usual.  He arrived in a fouler mood than his normal dour self and was in a hurry to leave.  I quickly grabbed my stuff and hopped into the truck.  Evil Steve chose some brain melting, crappy, heavy metal to blast as we drove the winding, mountain roads to the coast. I didn't dare ask him to turn it down, instead the thrashing guitars and screaming vocals pounded along with my beer-induced headache.  It went down hill after that. When I asked to stop for a bathroom break and a drink, he rolled his eyes and sighed. He told me to "hold it" until we got to
Booneville. I didn't want to fight, but Booneville was at least 45 minutes away and I didn't think I could "hold it" for that long.  I said I could wait for a drink, but I really needed to pee.  He snorted and swerved off to the shoulder and snapped, "Find a bush." Since this was before I had any self-esteem, I grabbed some Kleenex, said thank you and went off to urinate al fresco.

After stopping in Booneville for a
beer, we headed back out and eventually made it to the coast.  As we winded south down Hwy 1, I watched the waves hit the shore and tried to forget what an asshole my boyfriend was.  I had nearly forgotten and all of a sudden, he swerved off to the side of the road and stopped the car.  On the other side of the road, a truck was flipped on it's side and the occupants we on the road bleeding. Evil Steve jumped out of the car and yelled, "DON'T WORRY! MY GIRLFRIEND IS A NURSE!" I shot him a dirty look and got out of the car.  I had only been out of nursing school for 4 days. I had not sat for my boards and I had no idea what to do with these people.

The kids had been wearing their seat belts and just had scratches from the broken glass.  The mom looked like her shoulder was dislocated, but I could get a pulse in her hand, and she had a big laceration on her forehead.  I instructed Evil Steve to wrap her arm against her body with something so it wouldn't move and to apply pressure to the cut to slow/stop the bleeding.  I moved onto the dad.  He had not been wearing his seatbelt, according to the mom.  He had been scalped; his hair was a big flap hanging off his head.  One of his pupils was smaller than the other one and when I felt his pulse, it was very fast and irregular. I was scared shitless.  Another good samaritan handed me some gloves and a first aid kit.  I asked him for some blankets and a bottle of water.  We put the dad's legs up above his head; I rinsed off his scalp with the water and flipped his hair back onto his head. I told him not to move and just watched him until FINALLY, the EMS arrived.  I gave them a little report on Mom and Dad and then went back to the truck.

As we started to drive off, Evil Steve said, "Wow, that was cool."  I shot him a cold look and told him, "If you ever do something like that to me again, I will kick your ass.  I am not even a real nurse yet. I have no 'emergency in the field' training. I don't run up to strangers and announce that you are an asshole, so please don't tell strangers I am a nurse." He didn't speak to me again until we reached the restaurant.

It was the best fucking bowl of clam chowder I have ever had.