Small towns come through|Column

Published 5:15 pm Monday, June 15, 2009

By By Lisa Tindell
How many times have you been required, or at least felt obligated, to sit in a waiting room at a hospital for countless hours? I bet the answer is somewhere between one and way too many.
I have found myself in those positions several times with my own parents, my in-laws and countless other relatives and friends. It’s usually at 3 a.m. that I discover vending machine coffee must be the most awful consumable product in the world. That is, of course, unless you count the barbecue rib patty sandwich behind the little glass door in the machine that only has a light illuminating the Donald Duck orange juice can.
Even in larger cities these days you have a limited chance to get a decent cup of coffee or even a 23-day old sandwich from the vending machine parked somewhere in an out-of-the-way spot on a floor that you aren’t even supposed to be on during your visit.
Larger hospitals usually have some sort of dining opportunity for every meal of the day. A cafeteria or other well-placed food outlet serves up the usual breakfast, lunch and dinner fare without any problems. Their dining hours usually span a couple or three hours for each meal.
But, honey, let me tell you this: at 2:30 a.m. when you’ve walked down the hall for the umpteenth time looking for a cup of coffee, you can’t find one person working in the cafeteria.
At this point, you are usually out of luck if you want anything other than a Grapico and a package of stale flaming hot Cheetos from the vending machine that only exists in the emergency room waiting area.
By the time you accidentally stumble into the cavernous waiting room for family of patients who have had an operation, the smell of burned coffee is a welcome aroma. It’s then you discover that operating waiting rooms usually keep coffee going most of the day so that family members won’t have to go in search of the illusive cup of coffee while their loved one is under the knife. That burned smell of coffee fills the now-empty room because the sweet little lady in the pink cardigan sweater forgot to flip the little red button on the front of the Mr. Coffee.
But, and I speak from experience, that aroma lets me know that a decent cup of coffee is just a few stolen moments away. I have bravely pilfered through cabinets and drawers to find that lone packet filled with pre-measured coffee made by a company that I’ve never heard of before. I find a garbage can and throw away the completely brown piece of paper that sits in the basket of the coffee maker. Using my fingernails to scrape off as much of the burned-on java as possible I fill the pot with water and begin a routine of swishing that would make Martha Stewart proud and give Paula Deen goose bumps.
Finally, after pouring the pouch of coffee grounds into the basket and filling the reservoir with water, I begin to hear the sweet gurgling sounds of the pot as the water heats and begins to drip into the basket. Slowly, the urn begins to fill with a wonderful brown liquid that sets my heart to pounding. While the coffee continues to drip I find the sugar and cream packets and even the little red straw/sticks used to stir the concoction. I’m all set and the final bubbling comes to an end announcing, “the coffee is ready” to the joy of my ears and taste buds.
Only problem is where are the cups?
I don’t like big cities much. You won’t have that problem at D.W. McMillan Hospital in Brewton. Of all the times I’ve spent there with family, friends and even waiting on things for myself, I know that someone, somewhere, in some department has access to a working coffee pot complete with cups.
I love Brewton!
Lisa Tindell is news editor of The Brewton Standard. She can be reached at 867-4876 or by e-mail at

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