Thursday, November 18, 2010


Sarah sits upright on the trolley, her hands kneading the safety rails either side, her eyes wide, her mouth opening and shutting in sequence with the rights and lefts of her head. She could be a fabric and tin automaton, a display in a pharmacy window from the fifties.
‘Are we there yet?’ she creaks.
‘Not yet. So. Sarah – is there any family history of heart problems in your family?’
‘Any what?’
‘Any heart problems in your family?’
‘What are they?’
‘What are what?’
‘The heart problems. In your family.’
‘My father. He had a heart attack.’
‘Oh. I’m sorry. Was it long ago?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘Okay. And your father had a heart attack, did he?’
‘And do you know what caused it?’
‘So what caused it, then, Sarah? Your father? His heart?’
‘It killed him.’
‘Yes. I’m sorry. He died when his heart stopped working?’
‘What was it? Do you know? Angina? Valve problems?’
She drops her jaw.
‘His car was struck by lightning!’


Unknown said...

It may not be the appropriate response to do so but that one made me giggle.

You applied equal amounts patience and persistence with Sarah. (I'm also guessing you didn't burst out laughing at the end so you must have also used restraint)

Definitely a better individual than I.

Mladen said...

It's like reading or watching something, thinking you know what's following.


Angeline Quick. said...

Poor lady. How old was she?
I love your blog by the way. I love how sparse it is.
You paint a picture but it's not paint-by-numbers.
Which invites conversation with your readers.

Flo said...

this was great!! Interesting blog!!

Nana said...

awesome! what a classic. I love those kind of stories. i am sure, soon you will find that story in any major hollywood movie.

BB said...

Oh my goodness. You are an angel. My patience would have worn out already. This was a good post.

California Girl said...

That's one way of getting to the truth.

Your style of writing is terse and says much. I like it alot.

Ashleigh said...

I felt bad.. but my first reaction to that last line was to laugh! What a crazy answer.. must have been frustrating to have such a non-committed answerer.

Alan said...

As somebody who works alone and usually only has electronic contact with others, I find your stories of personal contact (albeit under non-ideal circumstances) with such interesting people to be so... I don't know... inspiring? Touching? Enjoyable? All of these things and more.

Eschelle Westwood Mumfection said...


VM Sehy Photography said...

I admire your persistence to get a straight answer. I imagine most people would have a heartattack with that much electricity going through it. So much for the car being grounded by the tires.

Marge said...

love this! the words move across the page as if I can hear them rolling off her tongue and onto the paper... beautiful!

Natasha said...

Hi Spence,

I'm a new follower, just wanted to say this one made me laugh...and then question my moral compass.

Wishing you a good day.


Spence Kennedy said...

Thanks v much for all the comments!

I must admit I did laugh when she said he'd been struck by lightning - impossible not to, as it was so unexpected!

The job was a little while ago so I can't remember too many of the specifics. I think Sarah was in her early sixties, though.

I wouldn't say I'm particularly patient - but I am nosy! I recently had a patient (the other meaning!) who pulled her top over her head to signal the conversation was over :/

I must admit I didn't think you could be killed by lightning when you're in your car because of the rubber tyres. Maybe he crashed immediately afterwards.

Thanks again for all the comments. I very much appreciate you taking the time. :)

OnlyLostBunny said...

WoW its odd how things happen

Spence Kennedy said...

It's what keeps me turning up for work... ;) x

Unknown said...

You have to be part psychologist to pull answers from some people....... Kudos!

B.Dot said...

Is it wrong that I laughed?

I AM LIGHT said...

Love you blogs. And that's life man! Keep it up. Thanks...

Salty Letters said...

This one sounds like a joke.
Isn't life but a joke?

Anonymous said...

Spectacularly awesome !!!!!!!!!!

Is this a true real story ????
I'm lovin ur blog

If u dont mind just visit my blog and give me remedies to improve as u are ..

Spence Kennedy said...

Cheers for all the comments!

Aswin - Yep - all the stories on the blog really happened, tragic, comic or otherwise. I do change the names and other identifying details, though.

Unknown said...

Hi Spence,
I have just joined this whole blogging thing and am so glad I have found yours. I have just sat here for just over an hour and read through and must say im still not bored. I have a little feeling that your blog will make people reflect on thier own life.

Keep up blogging and please write a book!

Carla x

Spence Kennedy said...

Thanks v much, Carla. Really pleased you like the blog.

As far as putting it into a book, I think maybe these anecdotes work better as a blog. I'd have to re-work the material quite a bit to put it into book form; to develop more of a through line. I haven't given up on the idea of trying, but at the moment I've been concentrating on getting another project finished.

Thanks again for your comment and support - and welcome to the blogosphere! :) x

RSA Certificate said...

Hahaha I did NOT see that one coming :)!

Spence Kennedy said...

Neither did he! :/

saffy said...

this made me smile........however , i could put myself in that womans shoes. i have dyspraxia and because of this i dont often answer the question that is asked in the manor that a person expects, and it has made me more aware that people about me might have a similar problem. In her mind she probably thought that she had answered your question :).
Very frustrating for a person who does your job i should imagine..but like my other half it would seem you have alot of patience .
thanks for the posts ... i am trying not to read them all at once.

Spence Kennedy said...

Thanks v much Saffy.

I know what you mean. And really what she said at the end was perfectly logical, it just followed a completely different path to the one I was expecting. I love those moments, those sudden switches in a conversation that trip you up. I'd have liked to have talked to her a bit longer, but unfortunately it was a very short ride to hospital!

Cheers for reading, and for the comment. :)