Doesn’t Have The Head For This Kind Of Work

, , , , | Right | August 25, 2016

(I work as a dispatcher for my hometown.)

Me: “911, what’s your emergency?”

Caller: “My husband has been lying on the couch moaning in pain all day; I think he needs to go to the hospital. My address is [Address].”

Me: “Okay, an ambulance is on the way. Did your husband eat anything unusual today?”

Caller: “No.”

Me: “Does he have any allergies?”

Caller: “No.”

Me: “Where did he say the pain is coming from?”

Caller: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Okay, but did he do anything unusual today that could cause his pain?”

Caller: “Um, well, he shot himself in the head this morning.”

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A Little Punch (Card) Of Kindness

, , , , | Hopeless | August 4, 2016

(That morning I had quite a few things go wrong: my son didn’t want to leave home, my tire pressure light came on, and I didn’t have a chance to eat breakfast or stop for coffee. I’m checking in our first patient of the day, and despite my morning I have a cheerful face for patients.)

Patient: “Do you go to Dutch Bros.?”

Me: “I sure do! It’s my favorite place. “

Patient: “I go there a lot, but I always fill up the punch cards and never use them. Instead I save them and give them to people I find who are nice.”

(The patient handed me a full punch card, which could be redeemed for any size drink you wanted. It truly made my day better, and I greatly enjoyed getting my favorite blended coffee.)

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A ‘Fitting’ Response

, , , | Hopeless | July 28, 2016

(I’m walking to the supermarket. There’s a man curled up at the bus stop.)

Me: “Excuse me, sir, are you okay?”

Older Man: *slow and somewhat slurred* “No, I’m epileptic.”

Me: “Do you want me to call an ambulance?”

Older Man: “Yes.”

(As I do, a young man sees us.)

Young Man: *to his phone* “I’ll call you back.” *ends call* “What’s wrong?”

Me: “Chap says he’s epileptic.” *to despatch* “I’m on [Road] just off the back of [Tube Station].”

Despatch: “Do you have a road number or postcode?”

Me: “Not to hand but…”

Young Man: “Give me a moment.” *taps on his phone* “It’s [local number and postcode].”

(I relay this in the phonetic alphabet. The young man repeats the questions I ask and is better at extracting answers. Another young man comes along, seeming to have dialled 999 as well.)

Young Man #2: “What’s happened?”

Me: “Epilepsy. It’s okay; I’m on the phone to the ambulance service.”

Young Man #2: “Okay.” *to phone* “Someone here is already talking to you.”

(He leaves at this point, but a businessman comes along and asks what is wrong too, as does an older woman going to the local GP surgery.)

Despatch: “Okay, an ambulance will be with you as soon as possible. Make sure he doesn’t do more than sip water. We are backlogged so please stay with him and if he gets any worse call again.”

(I hang up and relay this to those around me. Between us the only drink to hand is a cup of sweet coffee.)

Businessman: *indicating pub across road* “I’ll ask them for some tap water.”

(He comes back with a glass, complete with straw and ice.)

Businessman: “They said if need be he can keep the glass.”

(I take off my hoodie and roll it up so the man has a pillow and the young man helps him into the recovery position.)

Me: “Okay, if you feel like you’re going to be sick make sure to tilt your head up so you don’t choke.” *I gesture to indicate that I mean up relative to him, which he follows*

(Both the businessman and the older woman have to leave due to engagements, but the young man and I stay with him until the paramedics arrive.)

Paramedic: “Looks like you guys took good care of him. Do either of you know him?”

Me: “Nope, just a bunch of strangers willing to help.”

(As the man is led onto an ambulance the young man goes to take the glass back to the pub while a woman in a headscarf comes along, also asking what happened. I tell her the gist of it.)

Woman: “Wow, he’s lucky you came this way.”

Me: “I deal with the public a lot, but I believe in treating people the way you wish others would treat you.”

(The city has a reputation for being uncaring, but sometimes, seeing this many people willing to help restores faith in humanity.)

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Father Used Norovirus And It Was Super-Effective

, , , , , | Learning | July 27, 2016

(It’s nearing the end of the school year and a couple weeks from Father’s Day, and with nothing else to do, my classmates and I get into a discussion on our favorite childhood memories with our fathers.)

Classmate #1: “Our air conditioner wasn’t the greatest, so every summer when it got really, really hot, my dad would go to the store and buy a box of popsicles and we’d sit in his room with three fans going and eat the entire box while watching TV. He always let me eat all the red ones.”

Classmate #2: “My dad took me camping one year for Memorial Day and it rained the entire time, so we stayed in the tent and played board games and wrote a story.”

Classmate #3: “One year my sister and I got norovirus and had to stay home from school, and we kept throwing up in the same spot in the kitchen, so my dad put a masking tape line on the floor and told us that whoever could throw up that far would get to name our new puppy!”

Everyone Else: *long, extended silence*

Classmate #3: “And that’s why my dad let me name our dog Pikachu!”

(We then continued talking like that never happened.)

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Giving Your Best Shot

, , , | Related Right | July 15, 2016

(It is 2004, when a bad batch of the flu vaccine creates a shortage for that year. So, high-risk groups like the elderly, young children, and people with chronic health issues are prioritized. My brother and I go to a local clinic with our grandparents. Note that my state is known for being constantly nice and generous.)

Nurse: “I’m afraid we don’t have enough doses for everyone. So if you don’t have or aren’t…” *she lists criteria* “…please prioritize those that are at high risk.”

(About a third of the people leave, making the line mostly older people.)

Older Customer: “What are you doing here, hon? You’re not the right age for the risk.”

Grandmother: *indignant* “[My Name] has asthma. The flu complications could kill her.”

Older Customer: “Oh, my gosh! I’m sorry. Hey, let this kid up the line. She has asthma.”

(As I move up, I see my neighbor heading out, carrying her recently internationally-adopted daughter, about four.)

Me: “Wait! [Neighbor]! Don’t leave. [Child] gets priority, too. Her immune system needs help to adjust to the US. Here, give her to me. I’ll make sure she gets it.”

(Especially because I am carrying a toddler, many of the mostly-older people let me up to the front of the line, saying it’s better to protect the younger generation. I soon reach the nurse.)

Me: “If there’s not enough, give the shots to [Child] and my grandparents. I can go without.”

(Both my grandparents come up to us and interrupt.)

Grandfather: “No. You are getting this shot. I am 78 while you have 65 more years to go!”

Grandmother: “Absolutely not. Give it to [My Name]. Even if you have to skip us.”

Nurse: “Wait…” *counts heads* “There should be enough now that some people have left. You can all get it.”

(Despite this, even the frailest-looking old people continued to push children and the very ill to the front of the line; I later read that the vaccine shortage was much less of a problem in Minnesota since many people chose to make sure there was enough for those at risk.)

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