Back in college, a group of guys I knew had an incredibly stupid prank.
They’d pick a mark, tell him they knew an awesome party trick, and ask him to hold out his hands, palms down. (The “palms down” part was critical).
The mark would usually be tipsy enough to eagerly do it, and my friends would then summarily put a full-to-the-brim cup of water on each hand.. and step away.
The look on the person’s face as they realized what they’d unwittingly been sucked into, and their subsequent drunken struggle to figure out how to disengage from the situation, was… surprisingly funny, actually.
(… Related: I may not be a good person.)
So, right. The “trick you into being held hostage by two full cups that will spill all over you if you move one iota” prank. I’m bringing it up because tonight, I learned that the medical version: Convince a medical student to page a notoriously slow attending.
Scene: A busy emergency department.
ED Attending: Hey, Action Potential – does Dr. OnCall need this study done tonight, or is it okay to wait until tomorrow?
Me: Ooh.. Sorry, I don’t know.
ED Attending: Well, would you mind paging him and asking him for me? I’m just being pulled in like 40 different directions at once, so –
Me: Sure, no problem.
Bolstered by the confidence that I was just following orders, I sat down by the telephone and sent Dr. OnCall a page.
And I waited for Dr. OnCall to call me back.
And after 10 minutes – nothing.
So I waited another 10 minutes. The phone I had chosen to use was just out of the way enough that I wouldn’t be able to hear it ring if I stepped away to do anything even remotely clinical.
So I ended up spending another 10 minutes trying to figure out how to disengage from a situation where I was torn between “not irritating the hell out of an attending by paging him repeatedly” and “actually following through with what I knew I needed to do.”
… Oddly enough, it wasn’t as funny as it was in college.
So I paged him 3 times in 50 minutes – which I thought was pretty damned conservative, considering it was actually a pretty valid question, still daylight, and he was indeed on call – but when he answered he was super pissed.
Probably because he was paged 3 times by a medical student.
I have no idea how I get myself into these things.
… I suspect karma.