Gee Whiz

If you’ve been subjecting yourself to my ravings on other platforms, you may have read this story on Medium. If so, you, know I spent my first two years out of high school working as an orderly in a hospital. I learned many valuable lessons there. Here’s one:

While I worked the day shift, 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the second-shift orderlies, who worked 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., didn’t constitute the most reliable crew on the planet. That meant, should any of them fail to show up, I’d work a double shift. That’s how I came to learn two things:

  1. One of the responsibilities of the second-shift orderlies was to make sure male patients who’d had surgery on any given day and were scheduled to be discharged the next day were able to micturate on their own as one of the conditions of said discharge.
  2. If any such male, post-surgical patients had trouble relieving themselves, the orderlies would turn on the water in their bathrooms. The sound of the running water had some magical effect that caused the patients’ urethral sphincters to relax and their bladders to empty forthwith.

Fast Forward

Some 27 years after my last day of work as a hospital orderly, I took a job in an advertising agency. I was there from March of 2000 through February of 2004. At some point during my tenure, the agency hired a new Director of Business Development. His name was Lewis.

Lewis was one of those people who would have been truly dangerous if he’d ever become as cool as he thought he was. (There was little chance of that.) He was situated in the office next to mine. On the other side of my office was the stairway to the second floor. Directly across from my office was the door to one of the restrooms, which I could see through the glass wall of my office.

I happened to be around the day Lewis was moving into his new digs. As a sign of his aspirational cool, one of the accouterments he brought in that day was a fountain. I casually suggested to Lewis that if he had any intentions of being even marginally productive, having a fountain in his office might not be conducive to that productivity. He blithely dismissed my suggestion and continued schlepping stuff in from his car. I went back to work.

Islands in the Stream

When I arrived at work the next morning, knowing it would be Lewis’s first official day on the job, I mentioned to the receptionist, Ellin, whose station was between Lewis’s office and the restroom, that she shouldn’t be alarmed if Lewis seemed to make an inordinate number of trips to the restroom. She might, however, consider putting down an industrial-grade runner between Lewis’s office and the restroom, the better to protect the wall-to-wall carpeting from the wear it was about to get.

“How do you know what’s going to happen?” Ellin asked.

“Female intuition,” I replied.

And Lewis didn’t disappoint. If Ellin hadn’t bought that runner, the landlord would have been replacing the carpeting every month. And if the owner of the agency had agreed to pay Lewis by the step, the agency would have gone under sooner than that.

Considering the way Lewis spent most of his time, he wore out his welcome almost as quickly as he wore out the runner Ellin put down to protect the carpeting. He and his fountain were gone in less than six months.

I was the only one who wasn’t surprised to see him go. No pun intended.


Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brien
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.

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    • Thank you, Sarah. The world seemed to be generating so much darkness, I didn’t think anyone would notice if I wasn’t part of it. And since absurdity seems to run consistently through my life’s experiences, I thought sharing a smile or two might be better than contributing to the gloom-fest.

      I’m so happy you enjoyed the story. And I’m grateful you took the time to comment.

    • Thank you, JoAnna. It’s a source of great joy to me that (A) I’m perceived as being out of my mind for reporting what I witnessed and (B) was fortunate enough to have witnessed the things I’ve witnessed. 😊

      Making people laugh or smile makes me very happy.