Speech #19 - October 4, 2012

As I lay on the hospital bed in my first-ever visit to the Emergency Room, suffering from the most intense pain I have ever felt in my life, my distracted mind tried to piece together the events of the past two hours.

The late-April day started out just like any other, a pre-dawn bus ride to the Light Rail station, a short wait for the train, a seemingly innocent inquiry from another waiting passenger about my iPhone. A trip I’d taken literally thousands of times, with nothing worse than a few annoying loud talkers, minor delays, sometimes pleasant conversation, but often with me buried in a book, listening to music, generally ignoring the hubbub around me until I arrived safely at work.

Events that day began to take a turn when the young man who had earlier inquired about my iPhone began walking up and down the aisle of the Light Rail car, his long black trench coat flapping behind him, generally being annoying, and making loud references to his desire to make trouble. My response: push the earphones in deeper to block the distracting noise, then focus more intently on the web page I was perusing.

It was obvious that this was affecting the other passengers as well. The train operator made an announcement to the ride disrupter to cease or exit the train. Fortunately, he chose to exit at the next station, much to the relief of all. But, suddenly, he turned back to me, reached out his arm, and grabbed my iPhone. “I’ll take that,” were his words as he turned and began to exit. I sat in stunned silence for what seemed like an eternity, but in reality, could only have been one or two seconds. I decided to take action. I jumped out of my seat, grabbed for the phone, brushing the thief's arm, but failed to retrieve the stolen goods.

He succeeded in exiting the train, and I succeeded in falling to the floor, hard. After another seeming eternity, I picked myself up, fully embarrassed, and plopped back down into my seat, a partial set of destroyed earphones the only remaining evidence of being the former owner of an iPhone.

The train operator checked on my condition, and informed me that RT security had been contacted. Given the chance to stay there or move on, I elected to meet them at my destination.

My thoughts turned to my inability to communicate as I’d been accustomed. How was I to inform my wife of the incident? How was I going to replace my phone? Many thoughts ran through my head, all the while blocking out the fact that my left arm was hanging uselessly at my side.

The woman sitting across from me indicated that she was able to get a good description of the perpetrator. I thanked her, and in turn, explained to her that I thought my arm was broken, as I could not lift it on its own. Other passengers also inquired about my well-being, and I painfully endured the remainder of the ride to work.

Upon arriving at my destination, I was met by a Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy. He asked if I needed an ambulance, but I declined the offer, indicating I would contact my wife for assistance. He took my statement, as well as the statement of the witness, and in a few minutes I was safely into the building and at my desk.

My first call was to my wife, alarmed and annoyed to be hearing from me at 6:30 AM, as she was preparing herself to go to work. “My iPhone was stolen on the train, and I think I’ve broken my arm. I need you to pick me up and go to the hospital.” After the shock of my statement wore off, she began the preparations to meet me downtown. In the meantime, more time for me to reflect and suffer.

Luckily, only a few minutes later, a co-worker arrived. I explained the incident to him, and he immediately offered to drive me to the hospital himself. A quick call to my wife to advise her of the change of plans and we were on our way.

My co-worker dropped me off at the ER desk, ensured that I was going to receive the proper care, and returned downtown. I was rushed into a room and painkillers were administered but they had no effect. The doctor reviewed the X-rays and discovered that I had dislocated my shoulder, torn some tendons and experienced a small fracture as well.

By this time, my wife had arrived and was admitted to the room to be by my side. We were advised of the procedure that was necessary to repair my injury. I would be given anaesthesia, the same one administered to Michael Jackson that ultimately led to his death, a not quite comforting thought. However, when used properly, it had no side effects and was otherwise very effective. Then the doctor, a small, slight woman, would pull my arm back into place while I was out.

My wife was asked to leave, I was knocked out, but came out of it almost immediately. I saw my wife, still in the room, and told her she was supposed to leave. She informed me that the procedure had already been completed, and the evidence was the immobilizing sling on my arm. I remembered nothing but the pain was gone.

I lay there, now on the road to recovery, still without my beloved iPhone, but thankful that my injuries were fixable. I was facing a few days off from work and a few weeks of physical therapy, but little did I know that my iPhone was having an adventure of its own.

But that’s another story.

Return to Roger's Page