What’s the most surreal experience you’ve ever had?
The one that felt the most surreal was boot camp in Florida in winter. Orlando at 5 a.m standing on the Grinder waiting to go into breakfast is as surreal as you get. The sky always struck me as a weird plastic bubble with the real sky painted on it. The flatness was appalling. I was from Pennsylvania hill country where Ridges and Hills abound or as a Texan who was from the Texas hill country told me “Damn, You have hills, we don’t.”. No shit. I’ve seen pancakes with more rise than Florida. That’s why it’s easy to see with the glacier melt, it’s gone. They can ban climate change in the state as a phrase but the head in the sand isn’t going to work. Florida is going under.
Palm trees were strange and fit into the surreal feeling. The weather in December and January was even stranger. It could be freezing in the morning and roasting in the afternoon. Pennsylvania was freezing to not so freezing. I decided it was a twilight zone. We aren’t even counting those big ass roaches they pass off as Palmetto Bugs.
Yeah, I hated that place and I won’t even blame it on lack of sleep and Recruit Crud which my family doctor explained was walking pneumonia when he doused me with enough antibiotics to cure a third world nation. His reason was simple. You didn’t know what nasty germs you picked up there.
The most surreal was when I had to talk a former patient out of killing me with a knife. He had broken into the apartment and when I got home, he was waiting for me. His claim was “I had to die because I didn’t love him.” I have very stringent boundaries when it comes to patients and inmates. At no time either in prison or out would I have anything other than a professional medical relationship with them. When any of them would moan they would never see me again, I would tell them “Good. I hope not. That means you are well, happy and living a good life, so make sure I never see you again. If I see you again, that means you are sick and had to come back or got arrested again.”
I discovered that time does indeed slow down in these situations. Your mind races to find the right thing to say and you watch every movement that person makes trying to judge what his/her reaction is going to be. You entire focus is on the person with the weapon. I talked. I really talked. And I lied. My God, yes, I lied. Now was not the time for a lecture on appropriate and inappropriate behavior. And I finally talked him out of the knife and back to the hospital.
Then I moved out of that damn apartment fast.
There are different types of surreal. And frankly, I never want to experience them again.