Emergency's waiting room at the hospital was full and I was told it would be a long wait. Trevor's leg appeared fine, but he whined from the jostling as I carried him to a seat. He had injured himself when he fell off our rocking chair around 4:30pm.
A male nurse gave him paper and crayons and a sticker with a red car on it. He sat still, because of his leg, and colored contentedly.
I struck up conversation with the man beside us. He was born in Vietnam and arrived in Canada when he was four (I'm not always adept at judging one's ethnicity; I thought he was Japanese). I asked about his family and he said he and his wife had two children, a boy and a girl.
"I work at a mushroom farm," he said. "It's terrible work with terrible pay. I get paid by the pound."
I asked him if his family ate a lot of mushrooms and he laughed. "No."
He was waiting for his Vietnamese friend who was being treated for an allergic reaction and he said he was mostly there because the paramedics needed a translator.
"My name is Leah, by the way."
"I'm Tommy," he said and shook my hand. "That's my English name. My Vietnamese name is Phung."
I tried to pronounce it and he said I got it exactly right. "You're very nice," he said. "Most people don't like to talk to me because of the way I look." I think he may have been referring to his race.
"When I wait in line for the cashier, she'll say to the person in front of me, 'Hello. How are you?' But when I get to the counter, she'll say nothing. Then when the person behind me goes, she'll say again, 'Hello. How are you?'"
I didn't know what to say.
"You know how they say not to judge a book by its cover?" he asked.
"That's not how it works, though. People don't actually live by that."
"You're right, they don't." I said.
He left to refresh his payment for parking and Trevor was called in by a nurse. We were led to a small area in which sat a tall, rugby player in for a head injury and a woman with dyed red hair who waited for an IV. They both smiled at their phones while texting.
I pulled a book out of my backpack called "The Grouchy Ladybug" and read it to Trevor a few times.
"I wish I was a ladybug," he said, enthusiastically, "so I can fly!"
"That would be fun," I said. "Then you'd be very, very small."
"I grow big!" he said. "Giant ladybug!"
When the doctor talked with us, he said Trevor needed x-rays. Shortly after, a woman came over with a wheelchair. The little guy said, "Ow!" as we put him in, then grinned broadly, pleased about going for a ride.
His body shook with fear while he sat on the bed in the x-ray room and I was transported back to the time he got chest x-rays done at 18 months of age. They put him inside a vice-like contraption that looked like a torture device and I was forced to stand aside and watch helplessly as he screamed and screamed. This time, however, I was permitted to lean over the bed and comfort him.
The x-rays showed he had a fracture, so we were sent to a tiny room where a nurse put a cast on him. "He has a great disposition," she said, "Does he get that from you?"
"I'm not sure," I said, "Probably from his Dad."
On the drive home, Trevor said, "I'm gonna scare everybody with my BIG SOCK!"