i'm of the opinion south africans have a good sense of humour in general. you have to be able to laugh at the absurd with a government like ours. and yet i do think we need to be a bit cautious about how we express that sense of humour while in the presence on non south africans. in general when you are working overseas in a foreign culture, you might want to be careful in the expression of your sense of humour.
like many south african doctors he had gone overseas to make a bit of money faster than it is possible on our shores. soon he was raking in money presiding over the sleeping while foreign surgeons plied their trade. yes, he was an anaesthetist.
now quite often the relationship between anaesthetists and surgeons can be strained. i can only assume it is worse when a language and cultural barrier are added. then there is the question of being in unfamiliar surroundings where more likely than not, things are done differently to what you are used to. it is probably best to keep a low profile and to not stand on anyone's toes. this anaesthetist did not believe on standing on toes. he went straight for stomping on their feet.
it was a neurosurgery case. the anaesthetist was of the opinion it was a non-starter and i suppose that's where it all began. there was tension between the neurosurgeon and the gas monkey right from the word go. but what could the south african giver of gas do? he had to dope the patient.
the operation got underway. quite soon the anaesthetist realized it wasn't going well. he couldn't understand a word of what the neurosurgeon, his assistant and the sister were discussing, so it wasn't really something that was said that cottoned him onto the fact that things were heading south. it was more the amount of brain tissue the neurosurgeon was suctioning out of the patient's skull that the gas monkey viewed as suboptimal. and as the operation progressed he passed through being perturbed and went right on to being amazed. it seemed there was no end to the stream of brain tissue that made its way through the suction tubing into the suction container.
after a while, once the anaesthetist was sure all the maths and science had been suctioned out, he took a more philosophical approach. it seemed to him there was little he could do to make the situation any worse so he just sat back and waited for the suction crazed surgeon to stop. and finally the surgeon did stop. he then got to the work of closing up, which in neurosurgery takes quite a while in itself. then he turned to the anaesthetist and for the first time spoke in a language he could understand.
"ok, you can wake the patient up now." the anaesthetist initially thought he must be joking, but there was nothing but an earnest expression on his face. he stared at the neurosurgeon in disbelief. the neurosurgeon stared back. "i said you can wake him up now!"
the anaesthetist shrugged his shoulders, strolled over to the suction container where it stood on the floor with its grizzly content. he then crouched down and started knocking on the side of the container.
"sir, you can wake up now!" he shouted.