wore a faded green polyester leisure suit with
an oddly intriguing assortment of safety pins
arrayed along the edge of one lapel, while Herma
had on baggy sweatpants and a misshapen sweater.
Miss Viola was wearing a demure flowered dress.
All three ladies wore shiny brown naugahyde
coats that had been fashionable in the sixties.
they moved, they shuffled along together, holding
onto each other for support and navigational
assistance. They made their way carefully to
the reception desk and Helma said that it was
Miss Viola who needed to see the doctor today.
Herma said, Hey there, girl, and
smiled. We was sorry to hear about your
ma. Hows she doing?
good. Shell be back Monday.
looked at me in confusion and said, I
thought she had a heart attack.
she in the hospital?
but she told me shed be out by Monday.
was relieved when Herma decided to leave it
at that. The story sounded a little thin, even
to me, but I desperately needed to believe it.
without even a hint of foreboding, I made my
first executive decision in the health care
arena. You ladies can come right on back
to the examining room, I said. I figured
it would be easier to get all of them up and
down just once instead of twice; and waiting
in the back would protect them from exposure
to whatever germs the other patients might bring
in. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
I helped them through the door that divided
the waiting room from the rest of the office
I said to Helma, You ladies are lucky
to have each other.
smiled. Oh yeah, we got enough spare
parts between the three of us to make one whole
took them back to Room 3 because it was the
only room with enough places for all of them
to sit down. Room 3 was used for surgery and
contained Daddys pride and joy
the hydraulic surgical table.
years ago, when he couldnt really afford
it, Daddy had bought the special motorized table
that would raise and lower, so he could lift
patients to a comfortable height while doing
surgery. Even now the table still occupied a
special place in his heart, like his Leitz microscope.
No one was allowed to touch either piece of
equipment but him.
table was controlled by four pedals that lay
flat on the floor. The entire table could be
either raised or lowered; or it could be tilted
by raising or lowering either the head or foot.
I seated Miss Viola in the middle of the table
and told the ladies that the doctor would be
in in a few minutes. Then I returned to my post
at the reception desk. While I waited, I retrieved
my phone messages from voice mail in Washington.
My boss, Senator Hayworth, was conducting a
series of hearings on corruption in the nuclear
power industry, and I expected most of the calls
would be related to that.
were eleven messages. I sorted them with respect
to time zone and then numbered them to indicate
the order in which they should be returned.
First came the calls to people on Eastern time:
government affairs representatives for the University
of Tennessee and Tennessee Valley Authority.
The call to a huge nuclear power conglomerate
in Chicago could be made after 10:00, to a colleague
in Sedona an hour after that, and then after
noon I could reach the Los Angeles offices of
the lobbyists for the electric power industry.
Tokyo Power Company would come last, after 8:00
tonight. No problem.
I dialed the Director of Federal Relations for
the University of Tennessee, Daddy came in carrying
a cardboard tray with a styrofoam cup of coffee
and a McDonalds bag. He set his breakfast
on the counter and I told him about the ladies
waiting in Room 3. He nodded, fished his sausage
biscuit out of the bag, and began to unwrap
British Parliament asks Amazon to clarify why it pays $9 million in income tax on $23 billion of UK sales.(May 20 2013) Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate...