My thoughts aren't very organized lately. Not sure why. Maybe the change of seasons has me off-track. Maybe its the election, the disruption of my exercise schedule, this new laundry detergent. I mean, I had a couple of days there where it was five or six hours past when I was supposed to take medication that is supposed to be taken IN THE MORNING (caps on the instructions) and preferably at the same time every day. I woke up from a dream this morning wherein I was back in college, although not exactly, though with friends from college, feeling this vague ennui coupled with a fear that I didn't actually graduate, but wait, they gave me that diploma, did I have enough credits? Were they humoring me? This morphed quickly into some sort of Bollywood film that I was both watching and participating in, and then They (not the Indians, another more sinister 'They..not that Indians are sinister, more that the first They were not sinister and the second They were. Oh, you know what I mean.) were after me because I was One of Them (too much 'Heroes', I guess) but they couldn't tell if I was Good or Bad.
Take your meds as prescribed, people.
Fleeting bits of humor drift through my transom while I'm driving, but nothing cohesive. After several weeks of bland customers, almost boring in their uniformity of wealth, I had a customer who had carpeted his driveway (indoor/outdoor, burgundy, very tasteful) and whose house was full of neo-classical Greek statuary but he and his sons (twins; 42-ish, still and always living at home) were so sweet and kind I couldn't spin a catalogue of weirdness out of it, try as I might. We talked about everything (over mugs of grape juice) from his wife's flea marketing habits to Alexander the Great to a fatal electrocution they witnessed 20 yards from their house. They sent me home with gifts; two large pink plastic hair clips and a framed print of The Last Supper, which I promised to hang. (And will hang, in my kitchen, with apologies to Himself, your parents have had the same giant portrait of a deer in their living room for 30 years. You can adapt.)
I took a couple of extra duty sections this week, I'm ten calls away from 100 in a year and grabbing a weekend here and there frequently enables you to practice skills that are not called upon on Wednesday nights. But I guess I need to back up.
It has come up now and again, in passing, in the comments section of other people's blogs, that I am a firefighter and an EMT. I have never talked about it much, in fact, I set up a separate blog for it, because about 95% of the time, stuff that happens is not funny. And this is a humor blog, si? Okay, once in a while it is funny. Drunk people (not the dead kind) are funny. Sometimes, crazy people (not the dangerous kind) are funny, but even that is treading on shaky ground. For every person who'd get a chuckle out of my responding to a full-blown psychiatric emergency on 'Dickens of a Christmas' festival day, all decked out in my best imitation Mrs Cratchit complete with elaborate Victorian hairdo, and no doubt heartily contributing to said patient's psychiatric emergency, there is someone who has been there, has coaxed a bug-eyed relative out of the barricade fashioned out of dining room furniture, full of the same assurances we had, that the neighbors are not trying to poison her because they secretly hate retired math teachers. So I'm basically left with the first time I ever responded to a fire call, wherein I fell over and banged my head on a forty year old engine parked across from my locker while trying to get into my boots, and got left behind in the empty garage littered with hastily cast off sneakers and workboots, lone witness to some sort of municipal rapture.
There is a unique brand of juvenile hilarity that one participates in, doing this job. A bystander, likely a pinched-up one who doesn't laugh at much, might call it immature. A rough game of king of the hill played on the snow piled at the corner, across from the firehouse, the guys looking like overgrown children, cigarettes dangling as they tumble down, laughing and swearing. Practical jokes where carelessly parked bicycles are lashed to chains, winched into the rafters, where they dangle over the head of the clueless owner who is endlessly talking, not seeing. "Shit, that was funny. Remember the time....." and the story is told. We need this. The same guy who does a maneuver he calls 'Fat Guy Freestyle'-- a crazily awkward but surprisingly high side-vault with a clicking of the heels off the end of a stretcher, a railing, with points given for a flash of buttcrack, can also tell you about the patient so badly tangled in a wrecked car it took an hour and a half to extricate her, mostly intact, her broken legs folded up over her shoulders. Half an hour of wisecracking in a circle in the garage might seem like a waste of time, but we need it. Then I can go home and do The Ritual.
Its simple; dead patient, gotta wash my jacket. The death doesn't have to be messy. It doesn't have to Get On Me. But if it happens; if there is talk of lividity, that low, animal wail from the living room when the relatives are given the 'Nothing More We Can Do' speech, the turning off of monitors, phone calls to county for the cadre of cleaners-up, I know I'm going to do it. I go home, peel off all the layers, clean out my pockets, zip it up, and throw it in the wash. There is an element of relief, of 'There, that's over'. It comes out of the dryer soft, its navy surface uniformly dark and reassuring. All is reset to zero, the good zero, the 'time to try again' zero, not the 'asystole on two leads/no response/ 1-1-1 on the Glasgow scale' kind of zero.
Suicides kind of mess up my schedule. I want to write about how nice the leaves are, with pictures. I want to muse on why I keep inadvertently running over squirrels. I toy with sly and amusing political humor, ultimately rejecting it in favor of keeping things non-partisan here in my little corner of the northern outpost. But Saturday morning at 2:35am I knew it was going to be another jacket washing day and I was right. I'll write about it later. (On the other blog, where the dark and heavy stuff usually goes when my boundaries aren't all blurry like they are today.)
Just this, and I'll leave you with it. You are out in the world, wherever you happen to be, surrounded by people who are fragile as crystal and carrying heavy burdens. Be kind to them.