I finally got to call the Poison Control Hotline


I woke up late yesterday.  That meant that I had to do my 15-mile run during the hottest part of the day.  Raw stupidity coupled with an unrelenting devotion to my olympic pipe-dream got me out the door.

Yesterday also happened to be the day I discovered that my city's Parks and Recreation department does not believe in water fountains.  As a consequence, I found myself desperately thirsty and far away from home.  When the "Oh-my-God-I-am-so-thirsty-I-could-just-lie-down-and-die" stage of thirst hit me, I was still several miles from anything resembling a populated area.  


Just when I thought I was going to actually die, I came upon the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life:  a sprinkler.


If only I had known what a fickle stroke of luck this was.  

I am not psychic, so this particular sprinkler seemed perfect: close to the road, far from the house and partially obscured from view by an immaculately groomed hedge.  I stopped and nonchalantly walked toward my target.  

I was pleased to see that the hose was not attached to the sprinkler head - far easier to drink from.  I wouldn't have to chase it around the yard, biting at it like a dog!  (If you have ever tried to drink from a moving sprinkler, or have seen a dog try to drink from a moving sprinkler, you will surely understand my jubilation at not having to do so).   

My high spirits were soon tempered by the realization that turning on this particular hose was no small task.  There were an unimaginable number of switches, levers and wires attached to the inconspicuous black box from which the hose emanated.  If that wasn't enough, the entire apparatus needed to be plugged in to an electrical box that was in clear view of the house.


I almost gave up...  - Almost.  

At that point, I had invested too much to quit.  I fiddled nervously with wires and switches, like a criminal hot-wiring a car.   When I thought that I had the right combination, I made a dash for the electrical box. 

Once I plugged the system in, it was pretty easy.  I flipped one last switch and a stream of cold, clear liquid came gushing out of the hose onto the ground, obliterating a tastefully arranged patch of tiny blue flowers.  

Retrospectively, I can see that there were more than enough clues at that point to figure out what was about to happen to me, but we all know that thirst is inversely proportional to logic.  Only after my hydration status had returned to normal could I see the error of my judgement.  

I stuck the end of the hose directly into my mouth and began choking down water as quickly as I could.  


It was already too late when my brain registered an incongruity between the way that water is supposed to taste and the taste of the substance I was currently ingesting.  The only way to describe it is "Suave 'Ocean Breeze' shampoo mixed with tree sap."


At that point I realized that the property owners were the kind of people who put pesticides in their lawn-irrigation system with nary a thought of the health and well-being of parched runners.  Bastards.  

I stood there for a moment, the hose dangling limply in my hand.  What had I done?  

This is a tricky situation to find yourself in.  At first I thought it would be a good idea to get help, but how would I explain the events leading up to my present situation?  I imagined myself knocking on the property owner's door:

Me.  "Um... hi.  I just drank about a pint of 'water' from your fancy little irrigation system there.  Would you mind driving me to the emergency room to get my stomach pumped?  Yes?  Well, could you at least tell me the name of the chemicals that are going to kill me?" 

The explanation for my plight was prohibitively embarrassing.   Since embarrassment is also inversely proportional to logic, I decided to just run home.


The last 3 miles of my run were a blur of shame, panic and pesticide burps.

When I finally reached my apartment, I crawled up my steps, not unlike the scary child from The Ring, and oozed slowly through my front door.  


Boyfriend was alarmed:  "What happened to you??" he gasped.

"I'll tell you later," I moaned.  "Just get me the number for poison control."

Boyfriend was visibly distressed at this request, but when someone who looks like a character from a horror flick asks you to do something, you don't ask questions.  

Like 911, the Poison Control Hotline is reserved only for people in the midst of an emergency.  This being the case, I had always thought that calling Poison Control would be exciting - like being part of a special club.  I think most people feel this way deep down.  Well, if you ever wondered, calling Poison Control is not nearly as fun as you'd think it would be.   

Following is my best recollection of the phone conversation between myself and Poison Control:

Poison Control:  "You have reached the poison control hotline for Montana, Colorado and Idaho, this is Roberta speaking.  What seems to be the problem?"

Me:  "I think I may have ingested a large amount of pesticides."

Roberta:   "What kind of pesticides?"

Me:  "I don't know."

Roberta:  "You don't know?  Do you have the container that the pesticides were in?"  

Me:  "They were in a sprinkler."

Roberta:  "A sprinkler?"

Me:  "Yeah.  I was running."

Roberta:  "you were running from what?"

Me:  "No, I was running, like on a run... um... exercising?"

Roberta:  "you were exercising?"

Me:  "Yes, and it was really hot and I stopped to get a drink from someone's sprinkler."

Roberta:  (silence)

Me:  "It tasted like Ocean Breeze shampoo mixed with tree sap."

Roberta:  "I don't really know any chemicals that fit that profile, ma'am.  How much did you drink?"

Me:  "Uh... probably about a pint?  I was really thirsty."

Roberta (after another prolonged silence): "... How do you feel now?"

Me:  "Stupid."

Roberta:  "Do you feel lightheaded or nauseated?"

Me:  "Oh... uh.. kind of."  

Roberta:  "Are you hallucinating?"

Me:  "I don't know...  are you real?"

Roberta:  "Yes, I'm real."

Me:  "How do I know you aren't just saying that?"

Roberta (annoyed):  "Ma'am, are you hallucinating or not?"

Me:  "Um..."  - I figured I had about a 50/50 chance of getting it right - "No?"

Roberta:  "Well, since I don't know what chemical you may have ingested, the best I can do for you is tell you to sip some water, lie down and wait to see what happens."

Me:  (on the verge of tears) "am I going to die?"

Roberta:  "No ma'am, I don't think you are going to die.  You might throw up, though."

Me:  "Okay."

Roberta:  "Call back if you have any more questions or if you start to feel feverish or hallucinate." 

I had a lot more questions, but I doubted that Roberta, the possibly imaginary receptionist from poison control could (or wanted to) answer them.   

I hung up the phone and sat down on the kitchen floor.  Boyfriend peeked his head around the corner.  "Is everything alright?" he asked.  

"Well, that depends,"  I replied.  "Are you real?"