When my brother called on Sunday to ask me to meet him at the ER, I quickly gathered up snacks, magazines, and my iPad. If this year has taught me nothing else, it’s that any interaction with America’s medical system will involve waiting. Lots and lots of waiting.
And I wanted to be prepared. With reading material and food. I’m a girl scout!
Thankfully, the ER was relatively quiet and we were whisked right back to a room. But not before I managed to leave my iPad sitting on a chair in the waiting room. And to make matters worse, I didn’t realize I’d left it out there for about an hour.
Leaving an iPad on a chair in this particular ER in this particular part of town was akin to chumming the waters of a shark tank. This is the only indigent care hospital in Oklahoma City. It’s also the place where any Department of Corrections detainees are taken when injuries occur.
Like I said. It’s a shark tank.
Once Russ was stabilized and properly medicated, I excused myself to the waiting room where I politely asked the receptionist (who spoke to me through bullet-proof glass… just to paint a picture for you) if she’d had anyone turn in an iPad. Bless her heart, I admire how hard she tried not to laugh in my face. ”Um, no ma’am, we have not seen an iPad”.
She did suggest that I inquire at the police enclosure. Because, yes, in this particular ER there is a bullet-proof enclosure IN THE WAITING ROOM where the police observe the patients/felons/sick people. I walked up the door and timidly knocked. When the officer answered, I explained that I’d left my iPad in the waiting room. She, unlike the receptionist, laughed out loud at me.
But then she stopped herself and asked how long it had been gone. ”About an hour”, I answered. She turned to her computer and dialed back the clock on a special video monitoring system. That’s right. I said VIDEO MONITORING SYSTEM, you guys!
I stood there and watched time slowly progress on the computer monitor. Eventually, two women arrived – two middle-aged lovely looking women – they were pushing a teenage girl in a wheelchair who was sobbing. I watched as the women took notice of the iPad, and eventually one of them slipped it into her purse, got up, and skedaddled out to the parking lot. Moments later, she was back, but without her bag (and presumably my iPad).
It was surreal to watch this crime take place. And instead of feeling angry, I felt so disappointed in them – these women. They were clearly mothers. What must this child think? What sort of life do they live that they believe taking something that doesn’t belong to them is ok. That they deserve this found-item.
I was blown away.
I stayed in the bullet-proof police enclosure while the officers went over, confronted the women, and then demanded that they escort them to the parking lot to retrieve my iPad. It was awful to see. The women were humiliated. The teenager in the wheelchair was sobbing more than ever.
The end of the story is: I got my iPad back. And when the police officer asked if I’d like to press charges, that this crime was a felony due to the cost of the stolen item, well, I declined. I did. I couldn’t bear to bring more sadness on these women. I don’t know their story, but I hope they change as a result of this encounter.
And in case you’re wondering, all of this happened within minutes of my bathroom encounter.
ps – Yes, I used the “find my phone” app in an attempt to locate my iPad, but the women were smart enough to turn the iPad off (thus rendering the app useless). Criminals are clever, you guys!