I open my eyes to the sound of someone banging on the wall downstairs, I look at the clock as I stagger to my feet and make my way across my bedroom. There are only a few things that this could mean at 2:45 AM, either my mom or dad is sick, hurt, or dead. I’m not being a ghoul really but when you live with sickly aging parents that’s what it usually means. So you can imagine my surprise to open the door and look downstairs to see my mom fully dressed with jacket on and dad visible outside the front door. “Your brother is on the way to the hospital, he’s coughing up blood” mom says kind of matter of fact, like she’s just told me something commonplace. “We were gonna let you sleep, but we didn’t want you to wake up to an empty house and be shocked. So were going in a few minutes.” mom says as she looks up at me and out to the street. I say “Dad’s got night blindness and if anyone’s going to drive to the hospital at three am it’s gonna be me!” and turn to get dressed with rubbery legs and jangled nerves. I have been asleep maybe two and a half hours and I am still wondering what’s going on with my brother, he has always got a sinus problem and a smokers hack, but I didn’t realize he was actually sick. The small bathroom garbage can full of bloody tissues tells the tale, it looks like something out of a horror movie.
In the cold chill of the fall night we drive to the ER and I drop them off. By the time I park the car and walk into the waiting area I find my family including my brother sitting in an mostly empty room while the Turner classic movies channel features ‘Jason and the Argonauts!’ My brother, looking dismal, apologizes for the fuss and fills me in on what’s happened since I went to bed. He has had uncontrollable coughing fits spewing up blood and mucus which isn’t letting up. He informs me that he has been sick with a cough and cold for weeks but with him sequestered in his room as he attends online college and me at work all day, I’m afraid I didn’t notice he was sick. They finally call his name and I sit down for a long night, armed with an interesting book called “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis, an unusual read for me about the investment industry. The author was on NPR (National Public Radio) the previous Saturday promoting his new book “Boomerang” and sparked my interest. The ER waiting rooms refreshment area features a broken free coffee maker, soda machine and snack machine. So wearily at my mom’s request I go on a walkabout looking for coffee but finding none I sit down to read and watch TV.
I sit with my mom while dad wanders around unable to sit still. We speculate about our worse fears for my brother’s health. It’s about 4:00 am now and they are taking him for a chest x-ray when I look up and see through the glass of the children’s play area another TV with a breaking news story. I get up to see what’s going on now, and am not surprised to see that the police in New York City have raided Zucotti Park and driven the Occupy Wall Street protesters out, to clean up the park ostensibly. The operation was conducted by police in riot gear and SWAT teams with precise military maneuvers. The action began at 1:00 am and these kinds of operations are always done in the small hours, it’s the best time to attack your enemy. The protesters didn’t stand a chance, and even the efforts of reinforcements coming to aid the protesters never made it to the park, they were driven back. This is no surprise to me as I predicted this would happen weeks ago; if only to myself. But what shocked me was the lack of violence, many protestors went peacefully and the few who didn’t were not beaten up too bad. That is at least not from what we witnessed on TV, the next day the mayor held a press conference stating that things went well-better than expected! Also the protestors would be allowed to come back to the park, but not with sleeping bags or tents this time.
The Occupy Wall Street movement begun on Sept 17th in New York’s financial district, inspired by the Egyptian Tahir Square uprisings in June and the Spanish “Acampadas”. It is at its core vow to end the monied corruption of our democracy. The anti-consumerist/pro-environment magazine” Adbusters” published in Canada is credited with calling for the peaceful protest movement as a means to bring about social change for the 99 percent of people making under $100,000 a year. While the 1 percent who make upwards of $100,000 a year enjoy an extravagant lifestyle and pay way less than they should in taxes, the 99 percent are trimming down to only the essentials and yet are still being asked to bear the burden for the good of the country. If you look at a map of the cities where protesters have gathered, you can see that the concentration of the movement is in the northeast, but it reaches all the way to the west coast and a sprinkling of the mid-Atlantic states. The mid-section of the country is where you see the least amount of protest, in some states none at all.
The OWS is a leaderless movement and seems to have no clear set path for establishing their agenda. A few weeks ago I watched an interview with one of the organizers on TV and was amazed at what I saw. He was a young guy in his maybe late twenty’s, he was clearly a corporate hipster type, the kind that wears a suit and is well versed in office protocol but you could easily find him at a Dresden Dolls concert on the weekend. He was telling the interviewer that “We are sending a clear message to Wall Street and to Washington that we want change, we are going to be here, we are not going anywhere until there is real change in this country” He talked in that post valley girl/guy hipster twang with that tinge of the feminine that makes people think your either gay or a snob. The powers that be have got be looking at this and laughing at him. This is not any threat to the 1 percent, and guess what else. The one percentile includes all of our leaders and their families and friends and the leaders of big business right down to the owner of the company you work for who has more money in the bank than you will make in your entire life. They don’t care about you or anyone else in the 99 percentile. My brother came out of his x-ray and waited for the results in the ER and we chatted with him until the doctor came and told my brother that he had a nosebleed. I for one was not convinced since the blood wasn’t coming from his nose, but he gave my brother a set of instructions and a bottle of Afrin nasal spray and said see ya later. So at 5:15 am we arrived home and since I usually get up a six o”clock, I decided it was useless to try to sleep and got dressed for work and made my lunch.
When I came home after a very busy grueling day I found my mom made a meatloaf, so I jumped in to help sous chef the veg and mash and set the table. I asked about my brother who had more coughing fits and while we were just about to sit down to eat, my brother came in again with a garbage can full of bloody tissues and said “I guess we better go back to the hospital.” I got out of my sweats and into jeans and a shirt and took my brother to the hospital alone this time, my parents stayed home and ate the nice dinner she prepared. This time it was more of the same, the coffee machine was still broken and because it was after seven o’clock the cafeterias were both closed so we sat and sat and sat. My brother wasn’t allowed to eat until he had a CAT scan of the chest to see what was going on. So we both starved miserably and I read and watched some TV while he was examined and taken away for his scan. I bought a bag of hard pretzels out of a vending machine and took a small orange juice from a fridge and that was dinner. He came back and after an eternity was told that he had a touch on Pneumonia in his upper left lung, so they hung a bag of anti-biotic solution given intravenously and got him a lovely dinner of crackers, applesauce, lime jello, and graham crackers with nothing to drink. That took four requests to be accomplished but he finally got some from the staff who seemed eager to get out and go home. While we waited for the meds to finish we watched re-runs of Seinfeld and kept mom, dad and friends posted on developments. I excused myself to go to the bathroom and when I came back I realized that we had been alone in that area for quite a while, the meds were now done and we had been forgotten. I joked with my brother that he should take out the I.V. and we should skip this place. He chuckled and I said “No really, take out that thing then put a piece of gauze and tape and put on your jacket, I’ll hit the button on the elevator and out we go down to the basement, then up the stairs by the cafeteria into the front lobby and out the door!” He laughed and said he still needed his script for the Z-pac pills he has to take for the next 10 days but I was only kidding anyway, I just wanted to cheer him up after what amounts to his first brush with a serious illness.
We got home at about 12:30 and I had a few crackers and milk and went to bed exhausted but happy that it wasn’t worse than it could have been. Still in the morning I was shot and considered staying home but needing the money I pushed myself to dig deep and get going to work. I stopped for coffee at the supermarket where I usually go and greeted my friends getting their morning cup before work. This machine makes the best decaf ever and I smiled into my cup as I tasted my first gulp. Then continuing my ritual I walked over to the newspapers and looked at each front cover to get an idea of what’s happening today. The front page of Newsday made me laugh out loud. The picture shows a NYC policemen in profile and behind him a girl in her twenties is wearing only stockings and garter belt, sun glasses and a big smile! The caption read that the police have been turning a blind eye to incidents like this at Zucotti Park where protesters are stepping up the civil disobedience! That’s right they did turn a blind eye. Because the picture was taken the day before the police cleared the park, they allowed the incident to go without arrest to lull the protesters into thinking they could get away with anything. The police knew what would happen less than 24 hours later and besides… she wasn’t half bad-looking. Alls well that ends well. My brother is making good progress and should be fine. He threw his pouch of tobacco out on the way to the car when we left the hospital…it made all the effort and lack of sleep worthwhile, I just hope he doesn’t have a relapse…I mean on smoking.