Once Upon a Time in a Galaxy Far, Far Away…
I worked as a medical transporter. I started the job while finishing my college stint (circa 1977) on a part-time basis. A few months after I left projecting movies behind. Most of the time, I was just transporting hospital inpatients to X-Ray procedures.
It wasn’t a bad gig, and was somewhat rewarding in that I was making a (very) small contribution toward the benefit and care of a human being/patient. To be clear, in no way was it a clinical job. But, I did manage to become acquainted with a portion of the medical nomenclature in the performance of my duties.
Throughout the work day, I gathered the patients from their hospital room, in a wheelchair or gurney or sometimes the bed, and brought them to their procedure. Or returned them. And like the military (or us tech-heads), medicine loves its use of acronyms. The one you need to know for this decades-old tale is NPO:
So, on the day in question I came to pick up a spry, elderly woman with a gurney for an X-ray procedure that required her to be NPO. Around the same time, a surgery tech (a separate group of workers who always wore surgical scrubs and transported patients to and from the suites) was picking up a similarly aged woman two doors away for her operation that morning.
Almost in unison, as we transporters were backing our now patient-loaded gurneys out of their respective rooms, the surgical patient spotted the “NPO” placard on her room door. She then asked out loud, “N-P-O. What does NPO mean?” And before the nurse standing nearby could answer, the spirited woman I was moving piped up:
“Oh. It means no panties on!”
True story. Really. You can’t make these things up.