Nick's Journal
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2006-11-04 01:21:56 (UTC)

2 Worlds

after class today i went to the public health clinic in our
city. i heard about the pneumoccocal vaccination which was
apparently quite good at preventing the recurrence of
chronic sinusitis. i also realized that i had two options.
1.) go to a physician, get billed $100 for a $30 vaccination
2.) go to the local public health clinic & pay $20 for a $30
i chose # 2. now first off, once you're in law school your
reality is altered. i literally think law for about 10 of
my 12 waking hours. then during my sleeping hours i dream
law. i normally get up once a night to piss and get some
milk and lately i always wake up with my first thought being
one of law and how i would solve it...i then gently mutter
myself back to sleep in which dreams of law dance around in
my head again.
in short, i haven't had a glimpse of reality in a long
fucking time.
well i tookt he bus down to the health center and of cousre
it was predictabliy in the shaddiest area of the city.
tucked away under high-rises this decrepit structure stuck
out like a nasty cold sore. it's dilapidated overhangs
festering with the drudges of society. wincing in pain,
delirious on drugs, or just plain cold, hungry, and angry
shielding themselves from the rain outside.
on my way there i was asked if i wanted drugs and a second
time if i had drugs. i don't know which is worse, that i
look like someone who wants drugs or that i look like
someone who would have drugs.
anyway, i get into the building (which is insanely crowded
with wet bodies pressing together awaiting whatever
treatment they needed) and immediately i realized that i'm
on the wrong floor. the reason i realized this is that i
notice that there is an inordinate amount of people who look
like they are either a.) drunk or b.) on drugs. that's when
i realized i was in the alcohol/drug treatment area of the
i call the elevator to get to floor 3 for immunizations and
for the first time i think of a fitting title for this
hellhole. it is a place of squalor, plain and simple.
the elevator door opened and there was a wet huddled body in
the corner.
and i got in.
the second i got in, i regretted it tremendously. first off
the elevator smelled god awfully and secondly, i apparently
only got on to be polite to the person huddled up against
the elevator wall, which is patently absurd.
the elevator started creaking its way up the shaft with all
of the alacrity of a 95 year old woman and i heard the
huddled mass moan.
"um, you okay?"
nothing but a sigh. man i wanted out of that elevator.
the door opens out into the third floor and i immediately
bolt out to be greated by a horrific scene. screaming
babies and the unbelievably scary sight of people wearing
surgical masks. now these weren't doctors mind you, they
were the people in the waiting room.
i went up to the counter and had the following exchange,
"are you new?"
"fill out these two forms."
"are you sick?"
"if you are you need to put on a mask cos we don't want
germs here."
i turned around and stared into a room maybe made for 20 -
25 people, chock full of maybe 50 - 60 people. mothers with
their babies were in the seats, elderly were either propped
up against hte wall with a mask or seated on the window
ledge. the rest were alternatively fidgeting in a corner or
pacing around maniacally.
so i stood there right next to the receptionist desk as i
overheard them speak.
"god there are so many people."
"well you know why? it's because they bring their whole damn
family and only one of them can speak english. it's like an
sounds conspicuously like the racist comments i heard when i
was trying to get my citizenship.
then came the worst sound of the day. it was a wimpering,
it was barely audible as it was being drowned out by the
screaming of the children and the flurry of foreign tongues,
but i could make it out distincly. and it was coming from
this little asian boy who was tucked up against his father
and apparently holding his stomach. he seemed to be about 7
or 8 and it just gave me chills. you see at least when
children are crying there's still a sense of vitality to
them, but when they just whimper it has that scary feeling
that something is giving up in them and that their strength
is sapped.
so there i now was in the middle of this squalor. i had
previously spent about 10 hours a day in a beautiful tightly
knit campus which seemed to be an oasis from the city it was
in. the people i interacted with were smart (for the most
part) and logical. they were kind and pleasant and they
weren't exceedingly ugly.
i know that it all seems harsh and that i unduly condemn
those at the public health clinic but it's just that crazy
difference of these two worlds. one in which people have
everything to be content with and have their whole futures
ahead of them and another where people are at their wits end
and many of whom may be miserable and dying.
the reality of these people is always a dizzying experience.
a lot of times they stink, they are missing teeth, they're
haggard, worn, and a lot of times distrustful. i stood next
to a guy who was always teetering back and forth and who had
a woman with him who had no front teeth. both wreaked of
alcohol and overall they looked beaten down. the kept on
muttering and their eyes constantly shifted around the room.
i finally got in to see the RN who told me that i wasn't
eligible to receive the vaccination.
the whole ride back i thought of the clinic and i thought
how horrible it must be to be there. to have to take your
infant there as it screams, writhing in pain. to sit there
in pain and be treated like an idiot or a mere pathogen.
the degradation of having to wear a mask.
i turned the corner into my campus and i just really
appreciated it like crazy. it felt so safe and serene, like
a true oasis. i was instantly met by friendly smiles and
waves from acquaintances leaving the law school to
presumably celebrate the end of another taxing week of legal
education. when i finally made it back to the law school i
was accosted by janelle and andy. to give you an idea of
the difference i've just seen i can only compoare them to
the broken down, drunk man & woman at the health clinic.
in contrast both janelle & andy have blond hair and are
tall, both are very attractive (note: i'm not gay) and both
are sickeningly kind. so kind that they laughed heartily
when i said that i thought that they should start this cool
new club called the "aryan nation" one time when we were
paired up in group discussion.
as i spoke to them i just thought of how crazily different
what essentially is one reality can be depending on the
environment you get to view it from.

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