Rants & Essays
By Mike Royko
Michael and Miriam Hedges were dazed, almost in shock, when
they walked into Chicago's Cook County Hospital to be with their dying son,
Brendan. The young musician had been shot in the eye the day before when he
didn't turn over his bass guitar fast enough to suit a robber. Earlier, doctors
had told them their 18-year-old was beyond help.
"We went to the front desk and asked for Brendan's room,"
Michael Hedges said. "He was on the third floor, and she gave us a pass to
bring upstairs. Only one elevator was working; it was packed. The elevator
operator was saying, 'Passes, passes.'
"I showed him our pass, and he looked at Miriam and said,
'What about her?'" Hedges told the operator she was his wife, and that they
were visiting their dying son. But the elevator operator wouldn't budge. "He
said my wife needed a pass," said Hedges. "I said we were going to see our son
and we wouldn't get off the elevator.
"He said, 'So you're going to have an attitude with me. I'm
When a security cop showed up, Hedges tried to explain the
situation. "Then I guess I did a belligerent thing," he explained. "I pressed
the button for the third floor. But the door didn't close, and the security
guard got angry and started yelling." Several more security cops showed up.
They threw Hedges' wife against the wall, put handcuffs on
Hedges and took him to their office in another building. "They had me sit in a
chair for a while, then some lieutenant came in and said, 'We have rules and
regulations, and if we let you get away with it, we'd have to let everyone get
away with it.'"
Hedges said he understood, but that all he and his wife were
looking for was some common sense and compassion.
"Then," Hedges said, "[the lieutenant] said, 'You've been
clowning around here since 11 a.m.'" Hedges didn't know what that meant. Trying
to visit a dying son isn't his idea of clowning around. Finally he and his wife
were released and got to see their son.
The next day, the Hedges' signed papers donating their son's
organs, and the plug was pulled. Their son was dead.
A spokesperson for the hospital says they are going to take
appropriate action to make sure what happened to the Hedges' doesn't happen
That sounds nice. Elevator operators and security cops
should be discouraged from clowning around.