Friday, April 04, 2014

his business

Early morning, and the day has just started to move up, clear and bright.
A young woman is standing over a figure lying prone on the pavement. She waves when she sees us, and puts her phone away.
‘Thanks for coming so quickly,’ she says. ‘This is how I found him.’
It’s a guy of about thirty. His thin and wasted face looks familiar, and I’m guessing he’s a street sleeper, because although his trousers are round his ankles, he’s wearing a pair of tracksuit bottoms under them.
I lean down next to him and shout in his ear.
‘Hello, mate! It’s the ambulance!’
He doesn’t respond, so I squeeze his shoulder.
‘Hello? Are you all right?’
He flinches, and bats my hand away.
‘Fuck off,’ he says, in a spasm of irritation – then instantly goes back to sleep. 
‘So he wasn’t unconscious,’ says the woman, looking embarrassed. ‘I just didn’t feel safe to touch him myself.’
‘No. Don’t worry. It’s very kind of you to help. We’ll be all right now if you want to get on.’
She adjusts the rucksack on her shoulder, and with one last perplexed look down at the man, strides away down the street.
I lean in to pinch the guy’s shoulder again.
‘You can’t just lie down on the pavement, mate. People are worried about you. They think you’ve died.’
‘Fuck off n’leave me alone.’
‘Open your eyes for me, would you?’
He’s instantly asleep again, so I open his eyelids. His pupils are as small and hard as poppy seeds.
‘Have you had some heroin this morning?’
This seems to rouse him more effectively than the pinches on the shoulder. He struggles up onto his feet, and stands there a moment, swaying from side to side, his eyes closed, his trousers still round his ankles.
‘Come on, mate. Why don’t you come on the ambulance and we’ll check you over?’
He turns his head, raising his scrubby chin and sniffing the air in a general way, like a snake sensing heat off in the undergrowth.
‘Fuck off and mind your own business,’ he says eventually, then turns to walk away. But the trousers round his ankles immediately trip him up, and he veers alarmingly into the road, flailing his arms around and paddling with his feet to keep up with the top half of him. It can only be the heroin keeping him upright; anyone else would’ve fallen flat on their face.
‘Whoa! At least pull your trousers up!’
Incredibly, he makes it over to the other side of the road. A van waits to let him go. When it eventually moves on, the driver smiles at me and shakes his head.
Meanwhile, the patient has draped himself over a metal barrier and fallen asleep again.
I walk over.
‘Seriously. You can’t go on like this. You’ll end up hurting yourself, and anyway, we’ll just get another call back.’
No response.
‘Mate? Hello?’
I reach out and squeeze his shoulder again.
He flinches, and pushes himself upright.
‘Get your nose out of my business,’ he shouts, then tries to walk off again.
‘At least let us help you get your trousers up.’
‘Fuck off.’
He penguin-steps further onto the pavement, and then as if drawn by some invisible, irresistible current, waddles off sideways into an alley.
‘I’m not following him around all morning,’ I tell Rae. ‘Get your nose out of my business. There’s gratitude!’
Rae pulls off her gloves and hauls herself back in the cab.
‘His business in your nose, more like,’ she says.


TomVee said...

"His pupils are as small and hard as poppy seeds."

Brilliant. Did I already mention that this sentenca alone is brilliant? Because it is.

Whieras the owner of the pupils is... another kind of shiner.

Spence Kennedy said...

Thanks TV! Yep - 'shiner' is one way of putting it. Actually he was much more threatening & abusive than I put in the blog. It was only the heroin that was keeping him at all manageable. That bystander was quite right not to try to wake him up on her own. Ah well.

It's probably worth pointing out that the rest of the shift, all our patients were lovely! :)

jacksofbuxton said...

I do hope that both you and Rae had the same thought when our friend was flailing away with his trousers around his ankles.

Benny Hill music....

Spence Kennedy said...

That would've been the perfect soundtrack. That, or 'It's a jolly holiday with Mary' from Mary Poppins - when Dick Van Dyke does the penguin dance... :)

petrolhead said...

I hate that you guys routinely get shouted at and abused. The guys and girls in green are there to help!

Spence Kennedy said...

I know! And it doesn't matter how long I've done this job, I still find it shocking. :/

Blair Ivey said...

Being bemused by the habit of some subcultures to wear pants below the hip, I laughed out loud when you described your patient's struggles. Not identical, and not overly sensitive, it was still an amusing picture.

Spence Kennedy said...

I heard that came out of US gang culture. Wearing your trousers low was a nod to felons in prison, who'd had their belts taken off them. (Which I don't understand, because don't they all wear orange boiler suits? Maybe it pre-dates that).

It was truly amazing that our patient managed to stay upright, considering his trousers were round his ankles and his veins were full of heroin. It was an awesome victory against gravity (but a crime against common sense).

Cheers Blair!

Cassandra said...

Prison culture, yes. It was a little different than that, though… Wearing your pants low, below your belt line, signified that you were available for male sex. Yep. That's what those tough thug kids are saying when they "walk" around like that. (I live in a predominantly Hispanic town, and there's not much "walking" to be done when the pants are sagged that low. It's more of a shuffling swagger that looks pretty silly, frankly.)

Spence Kennedy said...

That's hilarious about the trouser-thing, Cass. I bet that's not widely known...

It's funny to think of the different fashions there are around - and have been, thru' time. I remember you talking about Ren Fair a little while back. That Elizabethan fashion for tights, codpieces, even ruffs. Mind you, I think I'd look good in a ruff. (Probably more like rough). Anyway - who'd have thought I'd be saying the word ruff so much. Prithee, I must lay myself down to rest...

Cassandra said...

I wish there were some way to insert a picture.. there's a pictograph dealie that I've got for you, Spence, that deals with exactly this pants-sagging thing. I saw it later in the day after I'd left this comment and I was like, AHA! Perfect!

Yeah, ruff and rough… there's a REASON they're homonyms! LOL. Codpieces are not exactly something that makes me all hot and bothered. More like just bothered. The bodices now, that's something that is a sight for sore eyes. Cleavage!!! One of the best pats of Ren Faire :D

Spence Kennedy said...

Well - you certainly paint an attractive picture of Ren Faire (the bodices, not the codpieces so much). At least with a ruff you'd keep your shoulders dry in a shower. But if you wore a wide-brimmed hat at the same time, you might end up looking distressingly like a sandwich.