Handling Cardiac Arrest at the Office
My boss Chad convinced himself he was having a heart attack last week right in the middle of his office after I’d asked him for help on mapping a database. It all started so innocently – “Hey Chad, could you take a look something?”
Chad rolled his chair over to my screen and studied the spreadsheet I pointed to. I went on, “If I use this-“
That’s when Chad interrupted me with an agonized cry of pain. I immediately tried spinning my own chair around to check on him but was abruptly reminded my chair is just some old leftover stationary waiting room seat someone snagged from a deserted dentist office. I quickly jotted myself a sticky note reminder “Buy new office chair with wheels and turning gadgets.”
By the time I did manage to scoot my chair a quarter circle to get a look at my boss, he was grasping his heart, hunched over! Enter “Just the Assistant Panic Mode,” cleverly disguised as “Just the Assistant I Know EXACTLY What to Do Mode.”
First step: talk very loudly to him. I got this from The Biggest Loser. As soon as a contestant starts to pass out, the trainers start shouting “Stay with us!” Chad is not obese. I am not a trainer. But it could just work.
“CHAD! DO YOUR ARMS FEEL TINGLY?”
“No. It’s just…my heart.”
“CHAD! ARE YOU SURE YOUR ARMS DON’T FEEL TINGLY? THAT HAPPENS TO BE THE ONLY HEART ATTACK SYMPTOM I KNOW OF, SO IT WOULD REALLY HELP ME DIAGNOSE YOU IF YOUR ARMS ARE TINGLING. HMM?”
“No. My chest hurts. It’s the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life.”
Did I mention my other boss James was in the room? James had entered “Boss Shock Mode,” cleverly disguised as “Boss Shock Mode.” He sat leaning back in his chair with his mouth half open and his hands on his head just staring at his business partner. He actually looked a lot like my mom when she’s in “Mom Shock Mode.” I didn’t bring that up though.
Chad wheeled his chair back to his own desk (see how handy wheels come in? What are they going to do if I have a heart attack?) and began typing with the free hand that was not clutching his heart. “What’s the address?!” he asked us, “Gasp! WebMD?! H-e-a-r-t-A-t-t-a-c-k-S-y-m-p-t-o-m-s.” Apparently he’d realized James and I were really no help and had entered “Save Myself Mode.”
James continued to stare. I continued to rephrase my tingly arm question.
Chad rubbed his heart. “Could I have a heart attack? At 36? Could I?”
Finally “Just the Assistant Panic Mode” brought forth another question. “CHAD! COULD IT BE HEARTBURN?” Chad looked blank, admitting he’d never experienced heartburn. James looked alert, suddenly snapping out of “Boss Shock Mode” long enough to chime in, “Hey, I’ve had heartburn before! It hurts right here,” pointing to his chest.
Chad frantically searched his own chest, trying to pinpoint if it was the same spot James indicated. This proved quite tricky since there is a foot height difference between the Bosses and none of us could determine how to translate the information from one short body to a tall one. We waited anxiously while Chad patted his torso as if searching for his checkbook in a series of shirt pockets.
We retraced our steps while Chad poured over WebMD’s site. He read aloud, “Heartburn can be triggered by the following: 1. Eating spicy food-”
“CHAD! WHAT DID YOU EAT FOR BREAKFAST?”
“Uh, toast. My chest still hurts.” He continued reading, “2. Obesity-”
Another quick scan of Chad confirmed he’s not obese and not even chubby.
And that’s when James and I locked eyes, nodding to each other knowingly. Of course. I had been asking Chad for help with our client database. Out of our whole database, there are a few people who have moved or changed phone numbers, and when we mail those folks Happy New Year cards or whatnot, the cards get mailed back to us. This is an issue James has learned to deal with. This is not an issue Chad has learned to deal with.
It’s puzzling really. Chad handles all sorts of loans and changes and deadlines every day and doesn’t seem stressed by any of it. He just works hard and enjoys it. But if he stops to think about the fact that twelve of his past clients did not receive his Happy New Year card, he will have a heart attack. I’ve got to hand it to him. He really does care about his clients. However, just in case he pulls another stunt like “I’m having a heart attack! Oh, actually I guess it’s just heartburn,” we all saved that WebMD page to our favorites.