Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Little Night Ghost Story

We have a camera in the TV room at work, with a closed-circuit monitor at the nurses’ station. I like to call it a spycam, though we’re not exactly “spying”—we just want to make sure no one is

A. Engaging in illegal coitus, or

B. Engaging in anything else they shouldn’t be doing.

Though the monitor has a record button, it has never, to my knowledge, ever recorded anything. There’s no tape, for one thing. So that’s a dead giveaway.

We keep the TV room open till 11 or so at night. The door locks automatically when it closes. The only time we lock it up early is if certain people insist on engaging in either A or B (see above). Frankly, we nurses get tired of breaking that stuff up.

So imagine my surprise when patients start coming to desk, asking why the TV room's locked. The first time I figure someone closed by accident. The second time I have to unlock it, I figure some smart*** is playing games.

The third time I have to schelp down the hall to open the room it occurs to me: We're always watching that TV room on the monitor. We also make rounds every 15 minutes. Whoever's shutting that door most certainly would've been spotted by now.

Note: The door cannot close by itself. There's an automatic latch when the door is opened.

Still, I continue to toy with the idea that a certain someone finds it brilliantly entertaining to force the lazy-do-nothing-sit-behind-the-desk-all-night nurses (HIS opinion, of course, which is in no way grounded in reality) to jump up to unlock the door every hour on the hour.

Then, shortly before 11p.m. I glance at the monitor. There's a patient sitting alone in the TV room, staring intently at the TV. Bummer that the TV's going off in a few minutes…

M, arriving for night shift, does go down to turn off the TV and shut the door. But a short while later, when I look at the monitor again, the same patient is STILL THERE, sitting in the same chair and still watching TV. The TV screen, I notice, doesn't seem to be moving.

“Who is that, back in the TV room?” I ask. “I thought M locked it up.”

Several of us huddle around the monitor. On closer inspection, we see it's a female patient—slight build, African-American, wearing a light-colored shirt with short sleeves. This description, however, does NOT match any of the patients we currently have on the unit. And with only two female patients--one a very large black lady, the other a smaller white lady--it's not like we can’t keep track of them.

“I know I shut that door!” M insists.

Back down the hall we go. And yes, the door IS shut and the TV IS turned off. But--back at the desk--the mystery woman remains on the monitor, sitting quietly in her chair, staring at the TV.

A still picture. A photograph. Now where it came from or how it popped up on the monitor, none of us have a clue. Could it possibly be of a patient who’d been discharged some time ago? Maybe. But if the damn thing doesn’t record, if there’s no freaking tape in it…how is this possible?

A reboot of the monitor gets rid of the picture and resumes a live stream of the TV room. But the question remains: Who was the woman watching TV?

The same one who kept closing the door all night long?

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