Code 3 for the vehicle accident.
A crowd has gathered. Apparently Car #1 rear-ended Car #2, which was parked behind a taco truck at the curb, and pushed Car #2 into the rear of the taco truck. It’s a lame wreck, but of course both women, somewhat ghetto, a mother in her 40s and a daughter in her 20s, want to go to the hospital. For what reason, I don’t know. I stopped caring years ago. Chief complaint, when the hospital asks these days, is, “They wanted to come here.” Usually followed by a shrug of the shoulders or some rolling of the eyes.
Fire’s with us. Of course everyone in the world has neck pain. We work on C-spining both of them in Car #2, one in the driver seat and the other in the front passenger seat. The mother’s done first, so she gets put on the bench in the back of the ambulance. I stay with her while the rest of them work on getting the daughter on the board.
“Where my glasses at? I need my glasses.”
If it’s not a purse, then it’s a pair of glasses. These days the moment this question gets asked, I immediately go look for them. Without hesitation. Many people seem to prefer gently persuading patients that they don’t really need the item in question in a sort of passive-aggressive way to get across the message that they shouldn’t be whining about purses or glasses since this is an EMERGENCY call. I find it less mentally exhausting to just go get it. The less non-clinical talking I have to do, the better. It’s easier to appear nice the less you have to talk through gritted teeth.
There’s always some call that makes people snap eventually, and it’s usually got something to do with kids. Oh no, not me. I imagine it’s going to have something to do with patients nagging me about their keys or something.
I leave her alone in the back of the ambulance. That stuff your instructors tell you about not leaving your patients? Ignore them. These patients never die; they’ll be fine. The human body is resilient. I hop out, and walk over to the car, where my partner and fire are still working on getting the daughter out. They look at me, presumably wondering who’s watching the mother.
“You guys see a pair of glasses?”
Thank God someone does. I walk back to the ambulance, happy that this should shut her up for a while.
“I want my burrito! Where my burrito at?”
“You already got your food? Where was it?”
“It’s in the front!”
I hop out again and walk to the car. They look at me the same way, again, probably wondering if I should go to a different line of work.
“She wants her burrito. You guys see a burrito?”
I realize how ridiculous I sound.
Well, maybe she’s trying to pull a fast one on the taco truck by claiming she already had her food in hand. I walk over to the taco truck, which despite being involved in the collision, has resumed business as if nothing had happened.
“Excuse me, did that lady ever get her food?”
“Yes, she did. I gave it to her already.”
I walk back to the ambulance and hop in.
“Ma’am, we don’t see your burrito.”
“I WANT MY BURRITO!”
“Ma’am, when they’re done getting your daughter out, we will look again, OK?”
Yes, your daughter. I guess she’s not important. But the burrito is.
“My burrito! My burrito! My auntie’s gonna take it, and I don’t want her to eat it!”
“My auntie’s out there! She’s that fat woman out there! She’s gonna take my burrito and eat it!”
Fuck. She’s never going to shut up. I hop out again. Those guys look at me the same way again, as if to say, “Don’t you have a blood pressure to take or something?” But my face says it all, and it’s got the resignation that every one of us knows very well indeed.
“I’m really sorry, guys, but it’d be really great if we found that burrito.”
I actually for a few seconds consider buying her a burrito with my own money. But, turns out, it’s my lucky day.
“I found it.”
I walk back to the ambulance, grab her hands and press the burrito into them. She turns into the nicest woman on earth.
“Thank you so much! I paid for it and I knew my auntie was gonna eat it! I don’t got no more money!”
I actually did catch a glimpse of a fat woman standing around during my trips back and forth between the ambulance and the car. And I do empathize with her now that I know why she wanted it so badly.
“Yeah, I saw her. She sure would’ve eaten your burrito.”