Except the next day, it was exactly the same.
And the next. And the next. And the next.
Despite the construction crew, and Ian specifically, saying that they would move the truck down as work got done, he was still occupying my spot several days later. At least the booming sounds above us had subsided a little. The elevator was alternating being in and out of service still, but it no longer felt like we were listening to Wile E. Coyote failing to blow up the Road Runner upstairs anymore.
As I went into work on day five of what I was calling the Loud Times, I was bleary-eyed and exhausted. I hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep the night before, battling yet another round of insomnia that tended to get to me this time of year. It wasn’t seasonal depression, but something related to it, I thought. Every winter, usually after the new year, I would find myself unable to sleep until late at night. Sometimes I would get my schedule shifted so I worked more afternoon and evening hours, but with the construction and the baby boom, it simply wasn’t an option at the moment.
The now-traditional walk from the overflow parking lot to the entrance of the building was decidedly not fun in my state. Adding in the whipping cold wind and the smell of snow in the air, and it was ten times worse. Every step seemed like a chore. I honestly didn’t know if there was going to be enough coffee in the universe to get me through my shift without a nap.
Secretly, the staff had a room for just such occasions. Dr. Sutton must have known about it but didn’t care since his offices always had a place for him to lie down. For the rest of us, the dark room behind the broom closet had to suffice. There were two cots there, old gurneys that no longer worked and were now stuck in the collapsed position. Still, when a nurse had worked twenty hours and needed to be back in six hours later, it made for a damn comfortable place to get some shut eye, and because the hot water heater was in the room and it didn’t have a light other than a tiny night-light plugged into the wall, it was warm and dark.
I dreamed about that place sometimes when I was at home, suffering from insomnia, and it helped me drift off to deeper sleep. I was thinking that today, I might need to experience it for real. A little twenty-minute dip into the bliss of the dark room might be the only thing that would keep me from completely snapping.
As I got in, I went to the breakroom and shed my coat, thankful that at least my lab coat was thicker and provided a little extra protection from the perennial cold of hospital hallways. Meghan and Daisy were in there, both taking a fifteen from their early morning shift.
“They said it could be the worst snowstorm in thirty years,” Daisy said. “The grocery stores are already out of milk and bread.”
“Yeah, but that happens if the weatherman sneezes,” Meghan said.
“I don’t think this is one of those times,” Daisy said. “Even if it doesn’t turn out as bad as they say, it could still be really bad.”
I shook my head.
Snow in the mountains of Tennessee wasn’t exactly a new phenomenon. While much of the rest of the state was traditionally southern and didn’t see much of the white powdery stuff, here tucked away in the Appalachians, we got snow fairly regularly and almost always at some point in January.
The usual situation was much like now, weathermen from down in the valley cities calling for blizzard conditions and making everyone panic-buy milk and bread and toilet paper, only for six inches to fall, look pretty, and then be off the road and gone two days later. Everyone stayed inside and burned wood in their fireplaces and cooked the beans that had been in the cabinet all year to make chili and had a grand old time.
Except those of us who had to work at the hospital. We just had to sludge through the snow and get to work, usually staying in the building for days, taking turns sleeping in empty rooms or the dark room. Dark room rights tended to go by seniority, and I was in the middle of the pack there, but hopefully, I would get my shot if we got snowed in. I just doubted that was going to be a problem.
There were generators in the building, and if push came to shove, the bunks normally reserved for triage could be pulled out for the nurses and doctors. It would stay warm in there, and we could charge our phones and entertain ourselves while the rest of the world went dark because the power lines were apparently laid when the concept of indoor plumbing was still new and radical.