“Why do American’s drink coffee while they’re driving? They look so stupid”. ~Anonymous Observer
After three flights, 24 hours of travel and layovers, it’s nice to enjoy a cup of hot coffee. Sadly, Europe is not as hip to the “travel mug” as their secessionist counterparts in the U.S.
We decided to take a drive from Tórshavn, the capitol city, to a town named Klaksvík. It wasn’t my first time visiting. At this point I was getting pretty comfortable with the country.
Something odd happens when traveling, the earth changes. Vegetation, flowers, trees, they’re all different. Even the concrete, walkways, roads have their unique aspects. Painting concrete appears in the most random places.
As we loaded into the car, each toting a kid (four of us total). I decided to run back into the house to fill up my coffee mug. Some sweet black juice poured into my ceramic cup, travel mugs are far too American for this distant land.
Heading back to the car loaded with people, I stepped on some painted concrete, it was a short wall with a good slope, the light rain made it into a slippery ramp. I slid sideways, fell straight on my elbow, hand, and coffee mug. The mug shattered and cut my hand, right between the middle and ring finger. If I’d been wearing a ring, I might not have a ring finger. The ring could have become caught and torn off my finger.
Thankfully, I’d only sliced a giant hole in my finger and it was pouring blood.
The emergency room was about two blocks drive. I had to wait for nearly an hour for the on-call doctor to arrive. Once the doctor came, I was taken to a typical ER room overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean.
The nurse came in and began instructing me how to clean my wound. She did not speak any English and was making fun of me in her language. My girlfriend at the time told me what the nurse said, “He’s afraid because he’s a man, all men are afraid”. I laughed at the sweet lady.
The truth is, her red hair may be an indication that one of her Irish grandmothers was kidnapped by vikings and brought to these temperate islands. As I’ve been told, Vikings enjoyed stealing a new wife. I’m glad times have changed!
An attending surgeon came into the room to check the muscle, nerves, tissue… and it was good! Nerve damage. I severed the nerve, that’s why I wasn’t in any pain. My finger was about half numb.
“Oh no”, said the young attending doctor. She suspected a need for surgery.
“I’d better call the head surgeon, but I’m scared, he is grumpy”.
A few minutes later, a tall Icelandic fellow in a white coat. He wasn’t grumpy, not at all.
Within moments, a whole team of doctors and nurses walked with me to the operating room.
I’ve never had surgery with such a beautiful view. It wasn’t really like having surgery, it was like having tea. The ocean view boasted the island of Nolsoy with its unusual flat northern terrain and peaking southern volcanoes.
“Ativan, I think I need a little more of that”, I said to the anesthesiologist. “Not a problem”. He must have smiled.
“I can still feel my arm, please don’t start cutting yet”, I told the doctor.
With the pushing of a few extra drugs, my arm became numb. My arm ceased to exist neurologically, at least I thought. A good push of that relaxant and I was happy. I’d become comfortably numb.
“Okay, I’m ready, go ahead and take a whack Mr. Surgeon”.
And then, we chatted about everything while he diligently cut, sliced, sewed and wrapped things up.
And then, the most unpredictable thing happened. Of course, I was worried about paying for the bill. A kind young nurse walked into my hospital room with some paperwork.
“Are you hungry?” She asked.
“No, I’m guess I feel good.” I replied.
“Okay, well I have the paperwork for you, so you can get paid”.
“I’m sorry, do you mean you have a bill for me to pay?” I responded.
“No, there is no bill, this is so you can get paid because you will not be able to work for the next two weeks”. She informed.
“Yes, but I’m here on vacation, it would not feel right to accept free money?” I argued.
“Are you sure you don’t want to get paid”. She said with a confused look.
“Yes, I can’t see how that would be fair, I don’t want to take any money from the system”. I reasoned.
“Okay, if you’re sure”. She agreed with a confused demeanor.
“Oh, one more thing.. where do I pay?” I asked.
“There is no place to pay for the services here, it’s free.” She replied.
Final Thoughts: In the future, I’ll bring my own damn unbreakable coffee mug, but I will never stop drinking coffee in the car no matter how much the world laughs at Americana.