A telephone call came into the emergency department and was transferred to the charge nurse. The caller said that a coach for the US Olympic Tennis Team was on the way to our emergency department and that he should be given VIP service when he arrived. She told me about the call and we both wondered what this might mean.
A while later, a middle-aged man arrived who was complaining of flank pain. As I talked with him, I realized this must be the person referenced in the mystery call. I couldn’t make any sense of this because the patient was not what you would picture an Olympic tennis coach to be. He was weird, pale, obese and dumpy. He gave a disjointed story of being diagnosed with kidney stones at various different hospitals around the country as he traveled with his coaching responsibilities. I had a hard time tying this all together in a way I was comfortable with. Nonetheless, I proceeded to make him comfortable and evaluate his flank pain.
Sometime later, a man arrived who identified himself as a limousine driver. He had a bemused police officer with him. They were looking for our Olympic tennis coach-patient. The driver said that the patient had contacted him in Pismo Beach and agreed to pay for a ride to our fair city, a distance of about 200 miles.
The patient pulled out a wallet, showed that driver it was full of cash then asked the driver to hold onto the wallet as the patient said he would be drinking in the back of the limo and would appreciate the driver keeping an eye on it. The patient jumped in and the driver headed off, happy to be paid for the nice, long trip.
When they got here, the driver was directed to the Fairmont Hotel. The patient asked the driver to wait for him while he ran inside to see if the people he was to meet were there yet. The patient went into the lobby and the driver patiently waited.
When the patient didn’t come back, the driver went inside and asked the staff if they had seen his customer. They said he had come in, asked where the nearest emergency room was and had exited out the back door. The driver pulled the wallet out of his pocket and found it was full of paper: no money. His customer had pulled a switch after showing him a wallet full of cash.
The driver then realized he had been had and called the police to help get some justice.
I was too busy to appreciate much of the interaction between the patient, the driver and the police officer. I understand the cop took a report and the driver left, angry and with no money.
I eventually figured out that the patient had no history of kidney stones and everything he told me was probably a lie. I have no idea where he went or what he did next after he left our emergency department.
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