Charles Dickens, Sara Nelson and Ariana Franklin combined efforts this morning to save a life and keep me from a Houston jail cell. We left the house this morning at 5:30 A.M. (me, wife and in-laws) to keep a 7:00 A.M. check-in appointment at the hospital where my mother-in-law was scheduled for back surgery. Needless to say, at that hour of the morning only one other group had arrived and been processed before us. Eventually the family waiting area filled up with people who were waiting to be notified by doctors about how their particular family member came through one type of surgery or another. Until 9:00 all was well, with CNN playing quietly on the big screen television, some people sleeping and others talking quietly to family members. Up to that point no one had any surgery news to share with others so there was almost no cell phone activity in the room.
That all ended with the arrival of the cell phone addict from hell who arrived just after nine and proceeded to shout almost continuously into TWO cell phones, sometimes simultaneously (one in each ear, I swear), in Spanish for the next three hours. She remained completely oblivious to the stares, gestures and mutterings directed her way and managed to drive 2/3 of the other people completely out of the room to either stand in the hallway or sit in the dining room. Three things saved her life: My wife reminded me a dozen times that it wasn't worth causing a scene, I don't understand much Spanish anymore and could at least tune out the meaning of her constant blabber, and I had three books with me to pass the time. By switching between books I was able to maintain a level of concentration that made the situation at least tolerable.
I somehow managed to read about 60 pages in each of Great Expectations, So Many Books, So Little Time, and Mistress of the Art of Death. I'll be finishing all three of them in the next few days, I suspect, so I'll save my remarks about the books until I'm done.
Today I just want to thank Mr. Dickens and the Nelson and Franklin ladies for their heroic efforts.