Saturday, September 19, 2009

Glad I Could Help

So just recently I was sitting at the coffee shop while on duty, enjoying one of the main food groups - caffeine. A man sat near me and we struck up a conversation about local news and my job as a paramedic. A few minutes into talking, he grew pensive, almost as if he was lost.

"Is is me that's just crazy, or has the whole world gone insane?" he asked.

I wondered what brought on such an abrupt shift in the conversation. I was unsure what he meant or how to answer him. As I pondered my next statement, the radio crackled to life to dispatch me to a call. "You're responding to a man with no legs who fell off his motorbike," the information came across clearly to me and the man I had been talking to.

The man repeated what he had heard over the radio, "A man with no legs riding a motorcycle?"

I confirmed it with dispatch. "Yes, that's correct," the dispatcher said.

I looked carefully into the man's eyes. "Does that answer your question?" I asked him.

"Yes, thank you. That makes me feel much better. It is the rest of the world."

"Glad I could help."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

So Delightful to Meet You!

9:30 am: I’m asleep in bed. I had gotten home from work at 4 am and was dead asleep from a long shift.

{Knock knock knock} on the door.
I’m sleeping in my underwear. As I get up to answer the door, I consider how embarrassing/fun it would have been to answer the door buck naked. My groggy head can’t be bothered with too many calculations, tired as I am, so I open the door in my boxer briefs. On my porch is a man, about 50, but looks closer to 65. He has scraggly, shoulder-length graying hair and a matching beard surrounding a mouth that houses gray, broken teeth. He is wearing a dirty t-shirt over his rotund torso and shorts that proudly display the cellulitis infection in his lower legs.

“Hi, I’m (whatthefuckever- I don’t remember). I’m moving into the house next door and I wanted to know if you mind me putting my boat in the public alley between our houses.

I briefly remember the “a
lley.” Back in the dinosaur days before the Interstate was built a few dozen yards from my house, there was an alley that divided the city block. Almost every block in Lakeview still has such an alley in use for people to park their cars in their rear driveways and the trash is picked up in the back alleys. However, the street layout on my block was rearranged when the interstate was built. My driveway runs right next to the land that is still technically designated a public alley, but the fence to my property effectively makes it my yard, and I’ve always thought of it that way.

“How long do you w
ant to put it there?” I ask, expecting it to be parked there only as long as it takes him to move into the house.

“For as long as I need it,” he answers.

I envision his boat, currently on a trailer behind his pickup truck in the street, parked in my driveway forever. “Um, no, I’m sorry, I can’t let you park it there,” I respond in my just-woke-up voice.

He is prepared for just
this situation. “Well, you know that that’s actually a public alley, so I CAN use it.”

I briefly consider his line of reasoning as best I can while my bed is calling me to co
me back to it. “I understand, but I really would rather you not park it there.”

“But it’s a public alley, so I can park it there.”

I have not the logic nor the will to continue too much farther in this circle, so I change tacks. “Well, then why did you bother asking me about it?”

“Out of courtesy,” he responds.

I courteously answer “Still, I’d really rather not have you park it there.”

“I am going to park it there.”

I shut the door. I climb back into bed. I’ll figure something out later. I really can’t be bothered right now.

10:00 am. I’m just about fully back to sleep.

{Knock knock knock}
Back out of bed, back to the door in my boxer briefs. “Now what?” I wonder, hoping it’s just the postman or Mormons.

“Hi, I’m Mrs (whatthefuckever). You were just talking to my husband about parking our boat in the public alley [she makes sure to refer to it as the “public alley” rather than “your yard”] and I think we may have gotten off on the wrong foot. That was his mother’s house; we renovated it and we’re moving in.

“Oh, you mean Mrs. Newman?” I ask.

“Yes!” she says, her smile revealing her own set of urine-colored teeth that match her urine-colored hair. She glances at me up and down, no doubt appreciating in the panorama of virility that is me, standing on the porch in my underwear. I return the favor and take in the view of her white shorts that reveal varicose-veined legs and the “SeƱor Frogs” tie-dyed t-shirt covering up her wizened, leathery 96-pound torso.

“That boat is my one source of serenity in this world. And Lord knows I don’t get to be serene very often. We certainly don’t use it as much as I’d like to...” she goes off on a tangent.

“I heard,” I answer. “I understand that the alley is technically public land, but it’s pretty much part of my yard, and I’d really rather not have you park it there.”

“Well, I understand, but it IS a PUBLIC alley and I don’t want something bad to happen to the boat or have it stolen,” she says.

“What difference will that make?”I try to reason. “How do you know it won’t get stolen or whatever from right there?”

“Well, there’s that phone pole right there.”

I consider the security functions inherent in a phone pole. I see few.

“Look, isn’t there some sort of compromise we can come to?” she offers.

My brain, in a fit of logic, comes up with a possible solution. “Yes, I think so,” I respond brightly. “There’s an empty lot right behind my house. The house that used to be there was torn down, so now it’s just an empty lot with an old slab and a perfectly good driveway. Why don’t you just put your boat in the driveway on the empty lot?” I point out the empty lot, its own driveway butted against the continuing “alley.”

She is unimpressed with my suggestion. “No, I don’t really want to do that. I don’t know who owns that property.”

I almost yelled “But you DO know that I own THIS property, and you don’t have a problem taking up MY yard.” But I didn’t. The husband was watching our exchange from his yard, muttering psychotically to himself. I had no doubt that I was already making myself look like an idiot simply talking to Mrs. Whatthefuckever, who looked like she had spent too many summers turning tricks at the beach while I stood on my front porch in my undies. A shouting match under the circumstances wouldn’t be... seemly.

Instead I calmly repeated my statement, “I’d really rather you not park your boat in my yard.”

She took up the circular argument that her husband had. “But it’s a public alley, so we CA
N park it there.”

I chose not to continue a fruitless line of reasoning. “It seems that no matter what I say, you’re going to do what you want. So why did you bother asking me about parking it there?” I inquired for the second time this morning.

“I asked you out of courtesy. So we don’t get off on the wrong foot,” she repeated.

“Courtesy implies that my thoughts would be taken into consideration, but you haven’t done that. You seem prepared to do whatever you want to do regardless of what I say, so I don’t really see the courtesy in that,” I explain quite honestly.

“Well, we are going to park it there. I just didn’t want to get off on the wrong foot...”

“I see. Okay,” I sigh as I go back into my house and close the door.

Ah, having white trash neighbors is going to be so interesting! I'll have so much to write about! Let the games begin!