Friday morning started off like any other summer day, the heat and humidity sending residents running down to the coffee lounge at the retirement home. Friday is also a free coffee-and-cake day so the place was crowded by time I arrived. I found a seat with friends, went for my coffee and slice of cake and joined the conversation. I looked around to see who was there, nodded and smiled at people I knew and settled down to my cake. The conversation was mundane, the price of something in the supermarket, the increase in the price of milk and that ever-present summer topic – the heat.
I heard a clatter and turned to see that a walking stick had fallen to the floor at a corner near us. Its owner was slumped in his armchair, fast asleep. He was alone, obviously bored and had dropped off. I turned back to the conversation and from time to time swung around to look at the sleeper. A nasty little doubt started gnawing at the back of my mind: he’s not sleeping, you idiot! I got up, crossed the floor and stood looking down at him. Someone else joined me and we looked uncertainly for a movement, a twitch, a sign of life.
“Hard to tell. I don’t have experience.”
“Should we, er… call for help?”
I half ran to the reception desk, mumbled something about a may-be-dead-man and ran back as the receptionist reached for the phone. Now there was quite a crowd standing around the sleeper. I saw people nodding as if to say, “92 what do you expect?” I saw a woman poke her husband in the ribs and wag her finger, “So! 92! And what was he up to?”
The scene ended suddenly when a cell phone rang in the sleeper’s pocket. He started, fumbled, got it out, put it to his ear, picked up his walking stick and tottered off, unaware of the crowd of mourners standing around him.
Moral of the story: Never doze off in a public area in a retirement home.