Kenny Chesney is at Heinz Field. White cowboy hat. Sleeveless shirt. Jeans. Leader of the “No Shoes Nation” and wearing two cowboy boots. Sweating. Singing. And totally pissing off the hospital security guards.
“I’d like to kick Kenny Chesney’s ass,” says one as he steps outside of the hospital and into the 76-degree night, a few steps from the ambulances and a few miles away from the 45,000 country music fans and Gold lots that cost fifty bucks to park/tailgate/urinate/vomit in. “I mean, I know he’s good for the city and all, but the drunks, man. They are not fun.”
“Our numbers are already up,” says another, monitoring the metal detector at the entrance to the Emergency Room. Purse on the conveyor belt. Sunglasses can stay on. Yeah, that was just your metal shoe buckle that set off the alarm… you’re good.
It’s 8:20 p.m. There are 31 people in the waiting room; the pale blonde wearing the remnants of an IV in her right arm and a floral tee shirt two sizes too small that reads Love is all, a guy with a 412 tattoo on his bicep whose entire ensemble pays homage to WVU, the fella with the ZZ Top-in-training beard, Duck Dynasty tee shirt, and camo ball cap who’s with the woman currently occupying a hospital wheelchair and wearing a pair of furry, grey cat slippers, complete with pink ears and a pink nose, who is sitting across from the couple who just drove all the way from Clarion. Two hours.
“I’ve had ten brain surgeries,” she says, cradling an insurance folder filled with paperwork.
“They’re quite rude to us up there and don’t know how to treat her,” he explains, arm tight around her shoulders.
They hope they get out of here before or after the concert lets out because, you know, the traffic on 28. And they also hope they don’t have to wait that long but someone else told them that they’ve been waiting two and a half hours and look how busy it is right now.
“Family of Joan!” one of the attendants calls out. “Joan?”
Everyone in the waiting room looks bored, tired, annoyed, worried, sick with something, sick of something…
“I’m-not-supposed-to-talk-on-my-cell-phone-I-love-you-bye,” says a woman in a wheelchair, hanging up her phone, sighing heavily, hand cradling her head.
The drunks started staggering in around four o’clock in the afternoon. Three hours before the concert. Too much beer. Too many shots. Too many red Solo cups.
“It’s so hot,” says the guy in the sleeveless plaid top, faded jeans, and brown cowboy boots. “I told him not to drink that much.”
“He was out cold,” his buddy says, the one with the American flag shorts.
He is in triage. Kind of sobering up. “So, he’s like, talking,” says the physician’s assistant. “But he’s slow to react.”
“There’s nothing wrong with social drinking,” says his very worried/mad/tired looking dad wearing the shiny white New Balance sneakers. “I told him to eat breakfast and drink a case of water. I told him to have a beer and half a bottle of water, a beer, half a bottle of water.”
He didn’t listen. He got drunk. Really drunk. Too drunk to flirt with the girls in the cowboy boots and cut off jean shorts who screamed and smiled and all sang all night long. It's a smile, it's a kiss. It's a sip of wine, it's summertime. Sweet summertime.
But he did get lucky when he cracked a security guard and not a cop.
“He’d be in jail,” his dad says, shaking his head. “He has a lot of responsibilities with his job, but it’s time to grow up.”
The "Our Stories" series is an ongoing writing project by Kate Benz.
Capturing a moment in time in our everyday lives.
Raw. Real. Honest.