Wednesday, September 3

...for the heart attack...

Another run in the middle of the night to a local residence hotel. You know the kind of place. Seedy part of town, lobby looks like a garbage sorting station, complete with dirty employees. We rarely carry equipment without a plan on never putting it down and cringe about having to clean our boots afterwards. We're met in the lobby by a rather clean gentleman wearing headphones who waves us over like he knew we were coming. I can tell by his almost new shoes he is not a resident, nor has he been in town long.

"My heart is just beating away." Usually a comment from a citizen like this elicits my compassionate response of, "Can you be more specific?" but on this morning at 3:30 and on our 20th run of the 24 hour shift, I had lost my cheerful disposition. In response to the comment, "My heart is beating away" I responded, "Mine too. Do you have an emergency?" "I can't sleep," he responded after a slight pause."Me neither," I shoot back getting annoyed. Not annoyed so much at the fellow who called us, but that this conversation is occurring in the lobby of the garbage station like residence hotel. But be careful, if you get these folks outside, they think they automatically get a ride, so keep them on defense. After his, "I can't sleep" complaint crashed on take-off, he asked why I was so mean. I explained that there could be a baby choking or someone being shot who needs us but if he can tell me what the emergency is I can let him know how I can help. "I need some food, man, I'm broke." "I have a job," I reply, "You need to come up with something better. Maybe this line works where you're from but not here." "How did you know I'm not from here?" He wondered out loud while I moved towards the door. "Wait, can you give me a ride to the bus station or a shelter or something?" I moved towards the heavily fortified Manager's window in the lobby of the residence hotel we were in and knocked on the window. A sleepy man who may have been speaking a form of English I'm not aware of became visible."This guy needs a room, how much?" I ask. "Him stay 1 hour? or more to day? $10." I look over to the fellow who called us and motion towards the window. "You can get a room for the rest of the morning or keep that money in your pocket and call whoever you left behind wherever it is you're from and beg forgiveness and go home."


The gentleman considered my words, put his headphones back on and stopped talking to us, just standing amongst the trash, waiting for something to happen. I asked if he wanted an ambulance to take him to the hospital and he gave me the universal one finger signal for "Go away."

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