My Two Cents Is Free; Two Bucks Will Cost You

, , , , , , | Legal | September 2, 2020

I am a paramedic in the New York City 911 system. We deal with a lot of abuse towards us, but this course of events had everyone there baffled.

Depending on the night, we sometimes have to fuel up the ambulance at the gas station instead of our actual station, like when it’s really busy or we are out of our main response area. We carry credit cards that are assigned to the truck and can only be used for gas/diesel.

My partner and I are at the gas station at pump seven. I go inside the store for drinks, and when I come back out, a driver is screaming at my partner. I run over and ask what is going on. 

Apparently, the driver had gone inside and put $40 on pump seven — he was actually at pump eight on the other side — so when my partner swiped the card, it didn’t activate. He pumped around two dollars of the other guy’s forty before the driver started screaming and he realized there was a mistake. He hadn’t noticed because the pump had still asked for the odometer reading and truck PIN, even though it didn’t take the card; we’re not sure why.

My partner is trying to apologize and give the guy $2 from his wallet, but the guy isn’t giving him a chance to speak. He is just screaming, “You scammed me! You use your card to fill my tank all the way!” It’s a flatbed, so it has a big tank. We obviously can’t do that, but my partner says that since he didn’t notice and it was his mistake, he has no issue reimbursing the guy from his own wallet and then filing a “petty cash” claim at the end of the shift.

This guy is not having it. He just keeps screaming to the point that one of the store employees comes out to see what is going on. By this time, I have already landlined dispatch, briefly explained, and asked for a boss to come to try and rectify the situation. Dispatch heard the screaming in the background and decided to dispatch another unit to our location, as well as a boss and police for our safety.

The guy goes inside to yell at the clerk for stealing his money. I follow him to make sure the clerks are safe. We are on really good terms with the night manager, so we always feel like we need to keep her safe. The guy starts screaming at her, even after she offers to give him the $2.

That’s where it goes from bad to “oh, s***.” This moron decides since he’s angry, he’s going to pull out his pocket knife and threaten everyone. It does not work like he wants it to, though. I quickly hit my radio emergency button — which my partner hears and comes running — and speak over the air, “[Distress code], I need PD now; he has a knife.”

In my area, when an ambulance calls a distress code, you get literally everybody. Every available ambulance, boss, and sometimes chief show up to help. We end up with something like twelve ambulances and two bosses at our location within two or three minutes. We get almost the entire police precinct within five or six minutes.

The guy does not have a good day after that; he ends up arrested because of the weapon — all over $2 that we said we would gladly give him.

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