our Dan Labor meeting on Tuesday night I went to get
my medicine at Cook County hospital. The public hospital
in Chicago. The hospital for the poor, for those who
have no health insurance. The world's first blood
bank was in Cook County. The series ER is based
on the emergency room at Cook County. At night it
is full of the life and death of the city. I have
been a patient there on a stretcher many times. I
went out into the night from our meeting. It was around
15 to 20 degrees below freezing. That is cold. Getting
into my van and starting it up I was wishing I was
back in Ireland on a soft wet day. I headed south
on Sacramento. A wide street with open spaces on both
sides for many blocks. It was cold. My van was cold.
As it penetrated me I could feel how a person could
die from this kind of cold.
crossed the 290 expressway and turned east. At the
second traffic light there was a man in a wheelchair.
He was dressed in ragged and thin clothing. He had
a beard and some teeth missing. In his hand he held
a cardboard cup from a fast food restaurant. Hey man,
give me something man. I gave him a bit more than
a dollar in change. Yeah, man. He wheeled on to the
next vehicle. 15 to 20 below, in a wheelchair, ragged
clothing, man, he must be cold. Thanksgiving.
got parking close to Cook County. At that time of
night there are not too many around. Inside the line
for medicine pick up was long. I joined it. The draught
came in under the doors. We were all in its way. Only
one person was giving out the medicine. There used
to be two or three. More cut backs. But Bush says
that the $200 billion that the Iraq war will cost
"is nothing". If they would spend some of
it on stopping the draught and hiring more pharmacy
workers I was behind a black lady. When we rounded
the corner there was a bench across from us. On it
sat a young black lady with a child around three years
old. The grandmother in front of me, the daughter
and grandson on the bench. The mother kissed the son.
He smiled. She held her hands over his eyes and played
peep with his grandmother in the line. The cold, the
line, the poverty, grandmother, mother, grandchild,
they loved each other, the line smiled. A Polish lady
was in the line. Her thin canvas shoes, and her thin
jacket. She would leave the line every now and then
to hunch behind a pillar to cry and get out of the
draught. Was she in Gdansk in Solidarity? Did she
take part in that fight against Stalinism? Did "freedom"
bring her here? The hospital is out of your medicine.
There is nothing I can do. Next. But I need it. I
need it. Sorry there is nothing I can do. Next. She
left, her head down in defeat, without her medicine.
Lighters three for a dollar. Lighters three for a
dollar. Has anybody got a transfer they dont
need. Has anybody got a transfer they dont need.
A tall black man walked up and down beside the line.
A transfer to get home on the bus. A dollar, he needed
a dollar. His clothes were one on top of each other
to keep the cold out. Lighters three for a dollar.
Has anybody got a transfer.
had money in my pocket. I had a van outside with gas
in the tank. I had a home to go to that was warm.
I could have a shower and clean clothes when I got
there. I was a very lucky one. As I left a small thin
man walked with his little brown bag of medicine.
There was not a pick of flesh on him. His head was
bent forward. He walked without life. One foot in
front of the other. His clothes were thin and he smelled.
He went out into the night. They had crushed him.
and his billionaires getting ready to massacre Iraqis.
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