Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Don't look for first aid at the Field Museum

Field Museum Chicago
I'll show you a splinter
The following is a guest post from Josh, Mr. Marketing Mommy. 

I used to take Z and A to various area museums and attractions on a fairly regular basis, but since they started 1st grade and pre-school, respectively, it’s a practice that has mostly fallen by the wayside. Between school and other commitments, mornings are out, and as for post-school/nap afternoons, traffic (both street and museum) is pretty prohibitive. As for the weekends, well, years of touring deserted museums first thing in the morning have more or less spoiled me away from all the teeming throngs of tourists who show up on Saturdays and Sundays.

So it was with excitement that I packed up the kids to hit the Field Museum this morning, along with friends, for our first visit in quite some time. Needless to say, the girls had a blast working their way through the exhibits, from the stuffed animal dioramas to the mummy’s tomb and finally to the children’s play area (which inexplicably opens an hour after the museum does, at 10am) for crafts, dress up, music and general play.

Somewhere alone the line, though, Z got a splinter. Not a huge one, mind you, but visible, and sticking teasingly, tantalizing out of her hand at a conspicuous 45 degree angle. No prob, I though. I’ll find a first aid kit and yank it out with some tweezers. What transpired was somewhat distressing, to say the least.

First I went to the front desk at the children’s area to ask if they had a first aid kit. The woman looked perplexed, and began digging around in several drawers. She pulled out what looked like a first aid kit, but it was a sewing kit. A couple of minutes later, and the best she could come up with was a second sewing kit. I asked her where I can find a first aid kit, and she starts scrambling to come up with weirdly Byzantine directions – “turn right, then right, then left, then right again” - that sent us deep into the bowels of the Field, down several barely-marked corridors and past several locked doors, in search of an alleged first responder station that we never found.

Frustrated, I took Z to the nearest gift shop to ask for better directions. The woman looked at me like I was crazy. “Ummm, hmmm, first aid? I don’t know. Sorry.” Sorry doesn’t cut it, so I asked her if she could, you know, call someone. She actually paused for a minute, deep in thought, though I have no idea what could possibly have been going through her mind other than “should I call someone?” Which she eventually did, and which eventually led us upstairs in search of security.

I found several closets, more closed doors and janitor supply stations, but no security, so I went to a ticket seller in the front of the museum, told her our rapidly lengthening story, and asked for security. She pointed me to the lone guard standing by the ticket sellers and told me he could unlock the first aid room for me. So I approached him, and asked him about first aid. He, too, paused and thought a bit, then made a phone call. He then told me to go back downstairs and search for someone in a white uniform, who was apparently waiting for us at the bottom of the stairs.

Keep in mind this whole time Z was bravely and patiently walking around with her splinter-hand stiff and stretched out.

We reach the bottom of the stairs just in time to see a man in a white uniform vanishing into some back room, but we catch his eye before he disappears. He looks surprised when I wave, then passes us off to yet another person, who looked to be another security guard. Emergency or no, this person did the farthest thing from hustling as she led us to the elusive first aid room and slowly unlocked the door. There I asked her, finally, for tweezers. She stared at me, then literally started turning the room over in search of tweezers. She looked in the paramedic bag. She opened drawers. She looked in baskets, cabinets. She gave me permission to open doors, bags, drawers and cabinets, too, all while Z sat on a bed, at this point closer to bored than uncomfortable, since her friends and sister were still off having fun.

Eventually, this person, too, made a phone call. After a few questions, she hung up the phone, turned to me and said: “we don’t have any tweezers.”

So after all that confusion, all that back and forth, one of the most visited museums in Chicago couldn’t find one of the most basic of all first aid tools. Not the most reassuring conclusion, even if Z gamely said she could just wait until we got home, not that we had a choice at that point. An hour later, I finally plucked the thing out of her hand myself, much to her relief. I’m tempted to buy a $10 first aid kit and donate it to the children’s play area in her name. If this is the way they handled a calm kid and a simple boo-boo, I’d hate to see how they’d handle at true emergency.

flickr photo by hchao17 used under Creative Commons license