The elevator door opened onto the main floor.
I took a left, feet dragging ever so slightly, shoulders noticeably stooped after a day on my feet. It hadn't even an especially long day. We had rounded in the morning, then there had been a couple of surgery cases, nothing major, then we saw a couple of patients and then my resident said I could go by mid-afternoon.
Still, it was mid-afternoon, about the time when I really start to crash. My resident had said, "Get out of here! Go enjoy your life!" I told him that actually, I just needed to go study. And I knew that what was about to ensue was my daily battle with myself - Should I go to my workout? Do I go home and study? How will I not succumb to my overwhelming desire - and need - for a nap?
I walked down the narrow hall on the main floor of the hospital, heading in the direction of the cafeteria and the exit. Not a super-busy time of day, traffic-wise, in the halls. Some days, especially when I am feeling down or exhausted, I make it a little personal challenge to smile and greet or at least give a little nod to people as they pass me in the hospital. Some people give no response and then I feel sort of awkward. But some people pay me back right away with warm and friendly greetings, and that always just makes me feel about 2 inches taller and 10 degrees happier, no matter what else has been going on.
From a ways off down the hall, I could see a policeman - just his head and his shoulders poking out from behind an elderly couple in front of him - walking in my direction. As we came closer to each other, I could make out from his posture and his gait that he was pushing a wheelchair.
I smiled and nodded at the elderly couple as I passed them. They didn't look at me. Moving right along, my eyes met the policeman's and we both smiled at each other and nodded. Then I glanced at the wheelchair he was pushing.
Sitting in it was a big, fat watermelon.
My smile cracked open wide and I laughed out loud. The policeman kept smiling and nodded again, eyes on me the whole time. A second later, we were already past each other and moving in opposite directions. My mouth hung open in a stupid grin as I shook my head, weariness evaporated. And then from behind me, moving off down the hallway, came his deep baritone laughter, joining mine.