A breakfast conversation


Bored after the night shift at the hotel desk, the night clerk “Mack” eagerly greeted us as the first guests arriving for breakfast.

I have three sons and three jobs,” he said. His list included three nights a week at the hotel desk and part time, light work on construction sites.

I can’t do heavy lifting since I nearly lost my leg 10 years ago,” he said.

What happened?”

He related the following.

I worked for a company that went around the country putting together tongue and groove log cabins that use big lag bolts and screws to hold them in place. The contractor insisted that his crew be provided a house with a bedroom for each man.

“We ate breakfast at the house, had lunch meat in the refrigerator for lunches, and his wife would make us a supper each night. I didn’t have to pay for room and board. I was making good money and enjoying it.”

The contractor took the crew to an island off Maine to build and live during the build. They had no way to leave the island. Since the men spent their days building, it worked well. Or it did until Mack developed a pain in his leg. He could barely stand it hurt so much. The contractor insisted he was faking to get out of work.

I wasn’t. I was literally curled up in misery,” Mack said.

Still he forced himself to try to keep up with the job until he could not stand on the leg. It hurt so much. 

I need to go to the mainland. I need to go to a doctor,” he pled with the boss.

The contractor negated him as a shiftless, lazy bum.

When the contractor left, the man’s wife quietly said, “Come, I’ll take you to shore.”

She took him to the door of the emergency room and left him saying, “I have to get back.” He hopped in alone.

I was like an episode of the TV show ‘House.’ They could not figure out what was wrong with me. The diagnosis they gave me basically meant that they did not know what caused it.” He could see the red streaks of infection creeping up his leg and medications did not help.

If this does not get better we will have to cut off your leg to save your life,” the doctor said.

Mack got scared and mad. He called the doctor names. He threw a fit. He picked up the phone and called his own doctor back in Indiana.

I know what you need, you need prednisone,” the Indiana doctor said after hearing the situation.

Mack told the Maine doctor he needed prednisone.

The doctor rejected the idea. Mac called his Indiana doctor. The Indiana doctor talked with the doctor in Maine. Mack got the prednisone and the infection subsided.

The Indiana doctor gently scolded Mack, “You were rather rough on the doctor.”

Yes, I was, but it’s my leg and my life we are talking about. She was not listening.

She is a young fairly new doctor don’t be so rough on her.”

Mack improved, hired a taxi to take him to the airport and flew home to Indiana.

He spent the next three years in therapy rebuilding the leg. “I could not take a shower for three years. When I finally took a shower, I crumbled to the floor in pain. The doctor said it was because the damaged nerves felt all the water droplets.”

Now, every time I see my doctor, I thank him for saving my life,” Mack concluded.

His days of heavy lifting jobs in construction are over, but Mack is alive, has both legs, three sons and a story to tell travelers in the early hours of the day.

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