Virtuoso’s Music Fails to Transcend Daily Grind of Emergency Room


Sibley Memorial Hospital – Making his way through the busy waiting room, he approached the frantic, yet disciplined operating suites in the back of Washington’s Sibley Memorial Hospital’s emergency room. Clad in an ordinary t-shirt and ball cap, the man removed his violin from its case, leaned up against the wall of the operating suite and began playing.

It was 9:37 p.m. on Friday, January 16, the beginning of the ER staff’s all-night rotation. Scores of staff and patients with life-threatening conditions would be passing through as the man played a selection of classical pieces. The emergency room is at the heart of the hospital’s triage services where health care professionals run around with trivial titles like paramedic, nurse anesthetist, and cardiothoracic surgeon.

Everyone who passed the man playing the violin had a split second decision to make: Do you stop placing a central line on the patient? Do you cease to give life saving orders? Do you ask the medical team that is trying to revive you to stop for a second so you can appreciate the sound?

What would happen? The man standing in the way of the emergency room staff was none other than Joshua Bell. An accomplished 43-year old violinist and composer. He played a priceless Stradivarius violin and performed some of the most beautiful music ever composed. But would his music be enough to transcend the daily grind of life in the emergency room?

“What happened next amazed us all,” said Toast editor Bernie T. Toast with a wink and a smug smile on his face. Mr. Toast and other Toast reporters watched a live video feed of the experiment. “And that was nothing. Nobody stopped to listen,” he continued.

Besides a few nurses and doctors who tripped over Mr. Bell’s violin case, nobody could be bothered by the Grammy Award-winning violinist. It leaves the staff at the Toast wondering—have people lost the ability to enjoy life?

To answer this question, the staff at The Toast will continue to spring refined events onto people at the most inopportune times and in the most inappropriate spaces. They won’t stand a chance.

“I think another experiment we have planned is to go to a soup kitchen and pass out glasses of ’61 Pétrus,” mused Mr. Toast, “Those schmucks will have no idea what they’re tasting.”

While the experiment may appear a failure, we at The Toast view it as a success, having proved how clever we are.


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