I had the displeasure of spending twelve hours in the emergency room the other night. A plague otherwise known as the "stomach flu" has absolutely ravaged Baltimore and her surrounds.

Local ERs have had ten-plus hour waits since the beginning of January. And Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Facilities have quarantined entire units so that frail elderly residents, even those who’ve had the flu shot, can avoid the epidemic. The flu shot has been ineffective in combating the virus.

Baltimore, despite the high murder rate, is a friendly town…although I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the ER at a nearby shock trauma unit, where gunshot wounds are on the menu, day and night.
There was a lovely young woman sitting next to me. She was there with a friend, waiting as I was. She made small talk, as people in close quarters often do when stuffed into crowded office chairs in rows facing each other. I’ll just call her "Cher".
Cher was peeling the acrylic nails from her nail beds and accidentally tore off a little piece of her real nail underneath. "Do you have some lotion or something I could borrow? I need something to put on this."
"I have some hand sanitizer…" I replied.
"No, that’ll sting. I’ll just get something from one of the nurses"
"Do you work here?" I asked, as she was in lime green scrubs with Japanese-looking cartoon pandas on them.
"I work here sometimes. I’m PRN (as needed), but not tonight. My grandmother’s watching my girls and I’m here. Cher pulled out her phone. "This is my one-year-old. My grandmother taught her to hum her ABC’s and count to fifteen already." The little girl in the video was adorable. Posing for the camera, tiny hands on baby doll-sized hips.
"Wow. That’s impressive. None of ours were counting at that age and they’re pretty bright! Sounds like you’ve got an overachiever on your hands…"
"You got kids?"
"Yep. Four. And tell you the truth, I rarely get to sit down. My husband’s home babysitting, so this feels like a night out to me! That’s pathetic, right?"
Eventually, Cher got around to telling me that she also has a ten-year-old daughter. She had that child at eighteen. I asked if her grandmother always watches her girls and commented on how lucky she was to still have her grandmother in her life. She shared that it’s always been her grandmother, her mother, and herself.
"I’m a single mother" she said, "And I don’t need a man! I got my girls and don’t need no man. I’m on my own and I have been since I was eighteen. My mother tried to make me pay $300 rent for us to stay and her to babysit so I went and got my own place down by Raven’s stadium…but things are going to get hard. Trump is going to make it hard for single moms and women. Did you hear what he said?.. He told men to go ahead and grab women’s crotches! He basically told men to take what you want! Can you believe that? He’s gonna make it bad for single moms and women…and I’m gonna have to work more…"
I replied, "I lived in D.C. when Bill Clinton was there…and later on his driver was my neighbor. I don’t suppose you’d want to hear what Bill was like when nobody was looking?" Cher smirked. She was not interested in Bill Clinton because she was too fixated on hating Trump.
I should have known that the conversation would have parlayed into how fantastic liberals are for the underclass, minorities, and women. After all, Baltimore is Marilyn Mosby land, a sanctuary city, and a place where in some neighborhoods gunmen run through schools to escape the police, knowing the cops won’t shoot into the schools.
Three local women I know took their daughters to the Women’s March in D.C. last weekend. The ages of those girls? Seven, thirteen, and sixteen. That’s right, a seven-year-old shaking a Pro-Choice sign on a stick. Lucky for her she was wanted.
Cher was a beautiful girl. Unlike myself, she looked fantastic at 4 am with no make up on. Her hair stayed in place, while mine was beginning to escape the ponytail and stick straight out. My mascara was raccooning and my makeup, like a mudslide riding oil down my T-zone. I looked every bit as tired as I was. I was less than fresh and needed a toothbrush. I hate hospitals. Not a favorite haunt for a borderline germophobe.
I tried to tune out Cher as she went on about how Trump is a woman-hater. Perhaps she was right. Maybe Trump is a crotch-grabber. But no worse than Bill Clinton, I supposed to myself. Either way, I wanted to talk about something else.
"Are you a CNA?" I asked. Cher nodded. "Are you thinking about being a nurse at some point? That might help if things get bad for you. Hospitals downtown are offering big bonuses for RNs and even paying for tuition for promising nursing students…"
"No…I don’t wanna be a nurse. That stuff, blood and stuff…I can’t do that stuff… I don’t wanna be an RN…"
I found that odd since CNAs are what used to be called "orderlies" in acute care settings. They give showers, change diapers, clean big bottoms after accidents, catch urine samples, get barfed on, etc. I used to do that stuff while working in adult day care as an undergrad. I can’t understand how big people poop and puke didn’t register on the yuck scale with Cher but blood did. At least blood doesn’t have an odor sharp enough to trigger my gag reflex.
As the early morning hours went on, Cher showed me photos of her girls, dressed in expensive clothing from the iPhone that was in her big leather tote from a highbrow maker. Cher played with her phone for a bit before complaining about Trump again. I looked forward and didn’t respond. Her misinformation regarding Trump was waning on my nerves. Unfortunately, there was nowhere else to sit.
Perhaps a blank stare relayed my disinterested in another rant.
Cher zipped her jacket up and tucked her hands into pockets and smiled. I was relieved when she changed the subject. "I want a new coat" she said, then asked me where I got my mine.
"Goodwill" I replied.
Cher shook her head. "Why? No. I couldn’t do that. No. I like nice things. I wouldn’t shop there. Uh-uh."
"I like nice things too, but sometimes I find things…I’ve gotten a bunch of coats there…I get compliments every time I wear them…you’d be surprised! Sometimes they still have the tags on them…"
Cher’s perception of me went down a few notches at that moment, I think. She continued to shake her head at my lowbrow Goodwill shopping habit. But internally I was actually shaking my finger at her. She’s 28 years-old with two girls from two men that she has nothing to do with.
I admired her desire to be a mother but there was no plan to move forward. She was plugged into services that allow her to live above her means and stay in a job that averages about $13 hour. As much as Cher enjoys what seems to be independence, she will always be dependent on others. She has no plans to improve her circumstance and why should she? Cher plans to grow old with Uncle Sam.
Sam expects nothing of her. He doesn’t push her to reach her potential or even require a commitment. She doesn’t have to change. She can live the static existence of need when she’s very capable of advancing on a trajectory toward self-actualization.
There’s a chance that Cher’s girls will get pregnant at sixteen and eighteen as she and her own mother did. Because her daughters won’t be privy to a fine example of what committed love and healthy relationships look like. All because of benefits and services from liberals disguised as Uncle Sam, leaving young women like her stuck in a cycle of marginal subsistence with no clear view of her true aptitude or promise.
She’s been taught that being good at getting knocked up is good enough.
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