Kids, I have something I must confess – – I have a sick, crude, off color, twisted and often offensive sense of humor. But I am okay with that, so there is no reason you shouldn’t be. The important thing here is that although some people (and not as many as you’d think) are turned off by it, I feel it has helped me in insurmountable ways in my life. I also credit my sense of humor as approximately 90% of the reason I’ve been so successful in the Fire Department. I know that probably sounds asinine to you civilian-type folk, but it is true. You can ask any First Responder you know and they will agree. A twisted and offensive sense of humor is not only part of the job, it is a necessary part. We make fun of each other and ourselves religiously on a grand scale it can be anything from poking fun to tearing each other to shreds. Rule Numero Uno – Make sure you have a thick skin, because absolutely nothing is out of bounds.
There have been many alarms I’ve responded to where the magnitude was just too much for any human brain to handle. Sometimes we need to make light of these situations in order to maintain our sanity. Do not, in any way, think that I (or my companions) lack empathy, sympathy or compassion. In fact, it is quite the opposite – generally that is how you get into this gig, after all. I have seen things that live only in the darkest corners of people’s worst nightmares. I have shed a million tears over people I could not help. But somehow when discussing it, in what Ralphie likes to call “Group Therapy”, we always make light of the facts. Group Therapy, by the way, ALWAYS involves a large quantity of beer, too many cigarettes and a barbecue.
I don’t want to get too heavy, since it is Friday, but my memory is swimming and I feel the need to elaborate on all of this. We’ll start small, as I’m certain many posts like this will crop up in the future. It was early morning when I received the call for an elderly male vomiting blood. This was during what has come to be known as The Month of Red Death, where every old person in town was bleeding someplace they shouldn’t be. So anyway, Big Red shows up to drive and we fly to the home of this man.
Yes, he really looked like that, except he was 6’6″ and still solid as a brick house. Now when I arrived I found my patient lying in bed all covered up nice. I ran my vital assessment and decided we should get him to the hospital quickly. The biggest problem with that is, well, he was huge and his house was too cluttered for our transport equipment to get close to him. After calling back to the fire house for additional manpower and being told there was none I walked away from his side and spoke quietly to Big Red.
Me: “How the fuck are we going to get him out of here? I can barely lift his leg!”
Big Red: “I guess I’ll carry him”
That seemed like a terrible idea, but I was left with no other option. The way Big Red looked at it, if he could support the patients weight just until we got into the hallway, we could transfer him to a stretcher. Not the worst, I suppose. As we began to prep for this I realized that Mr. Patient was wearing only a robe. I mean he was literally wearing ONLY. A. ROBE. Now I’ve seen my fair share of naked men, between the medical profession, tons of nephews and boyfriends past but I was not prepared for what my 96 year old (actual age) patient was packing. It was a difficult thing to ignore and I whispered to Big Red to help our patient cover up, as I went into a corner and blushed profusely.
Big Red had slipped boxers onto our patient and tried to close his robe, only to find out it had no tie. Well, I guess the undies would work – oh except men’s underwear have a penis hole in them. Red decided to carry the patient from under the arms while walking backwards. This lead to Red being repeatedly “cock smacked” by this man’s massive effect penis. Due to the severity of my patient’s condition this didn’t actually kick in at first. We delivered him to the hospital and unfortunately he passed within an hour. I was disappointed I hadn’t been able to more – I worried that trying to dress him or carry him wasted vital time. I knew this man, as I know everyone in my small hometown and I was one of the last people to see him or speak with him. It was heartbreaking. Big Red and I arrived back at the fire house and had beer for breakfast. That’s when it hit me.
Me: Bro, you got cock smacked by Mr. Patient.
Red: Tell me about it.
And then we laughed until we cried. That was how we mourned.
Nicknames began immediately, my favorite being Tallywacker.
I remember once hearing a friend tell some new recruits – “It may seem wrong or disturbing that we say this shit. And you’re right, it is, but the fact is if we don’t laugh we’ll cry like babies. Reality is you never become jaded by these things, no human could, but we learn to deal in the ways we know how.” … truer words have never been spoken.