I didn’t see them but I could hear them. Not because they were loud and obnoxious, but because it was early, voices were few in the restaurant and our chairs were back to back. Hearing only their voices and not seeing their faces or bodies gave the conversation a purity. All I knew about these three women was based on what they said and how they said it.
Rain trickled down the window in front of me and servers delivered eggs topped with aromatic cheeses as the woman talked about life on the night shift and I struggled to read my book. In an attempt to block out the distraction I underlined passages and filled the margins with notes but the women’s voices were too clear and their comments too entertaining to ignore.
In reference to a woman not present, a voice said, “She’s a good nurse but she’s lazy, she never empties the trash and doesn’t turn her patients like she should. Sometimes I stand up and say, ‘Come on, lets turn our patients, they’ve been on one side long enough’.”
The others agreed and shared similar stories about their colleague but as the coffee and eggs kicked-in, they left their work behind and began to share thoughts about other things.
“Oh, I love Africa,” the youngest voice announced.
“Really?”, said the middle-age one. “My neighbor adopted two children from Africa.”
“Oh, I would love to do that” the young one squealed. “I spent three weeks in Africa, I love the people and culture.”
The most senior nurse was the last one to join the conversation. Her voice was coarse, like that of a smoker’s, her delivery was flat and her comments contemplative. “My daughter lived in Africa two and half years. She was in a villages where the women could let their boobs hang out but they had to cover their knees. She couldn’t use her running shorts so I had to send her capris. The rest of the time she wore pants and a shirt.”
The young nurse jumped in, “Oh yea, they breast feed their babies anywhere. It’s wonderful. The men don’t even care and it’s so good for the babies. They even tell the mothers with HIV to breast feed.”
The table was noticeably silent for a few moments before the two older women shared their experiences with breast feeding. Their voices lacked the enthusiasm of their colleague.
“I fed mine once on a crowded beach in Hawaii” said the middle-age one.
The senior nurse cleared her throat then growled, “I fed mine on a public bus once but that kind of thing never bothered me.”
From breast feeding the conversation jumped to politics with the young nurse saying, “I know I probably shouldn’t talk about this but I think Bernie Sanders is great.”
The senior nurse gave a rapid and emotional rebuttal. “I am sorry, but I cannot vote for any man that is seventy-four years old. I have known too many men that age. Hell, I’m married to a man that age and even he has short term memory problems. We don’t need our nation run by a man with dementia. Look how long they hid Reagan’s dementia.”
The middle-age nurse agreed. “I could not vote for Sander’s without knowing who his vice president was. But Hillary is the only one I can actually picture as a president.”
The table fell awkwardly silent again, then the senior nursed spoke up. “I just don’t think I could trust Hillary as a president. I’m not talking about Benghazi or what you read in the American press, I’m talking about what I’ve read at the BBC and other places.”
The senior nurse took a long breath, sighed, and continued. “You know, our country has some of the best schools in the world. People from around the world send their kids to America for an education. So I don’t know why we can’t find anyone better than this bunch to run for president?”
At that moment a distractingly handsome man began to sit down at the table to my left. He was facing the nurse’s table and based on what happened next, the middle-age nurse must have been staring at him when she said, “Well, we can at least all agree on one thing, we can’t vote for him”.
The handsome man froze and looked at the nurse and by then I suspect all the nurses were staring at him. The youngest nurse became confused and said, “Him?”
“You wouldn’t vote for me, for what?” the man asked.
“No, not him” the middle-age nurse snapped, “I mean Donald Trump.”
The handsome man smiled and said, “Oh, I would have to vote for me over Donald Trump”.
Next I heard the three voices in unison say, “I would choose you over Donald Trump also.”
And with that thought the nightshift concluded their breakfast.