Cigarettes and Tasers

We get sent to a nursing home for a “violent” patient in the lobby. Cops have been notified. We arrive to find a big muscular man about fifty with no legs in a motorized wheelchair waving his fist at a nurse, who stands back about ten feet, shaking her head at him. There are three police officers in the room

Here’s the deal. He goes outside to smoke. Sometimes he ventures too far in his chair they are worried he is going to get hit by a car in the parking lot. Plus, his guardian doesn’t want him smoking so for his health they have put an electronic guard on his chair so when he approaches the front door it locks so he can’t get out. For him at least it’s about freedom and his cigarettes. Don’t mess with a man with no legs’s cigarettes.

The cops tell him since he threatened the nurse and threatened himself, or at least said his life wasn’t worth living, he has to go to the hospital for evaluation.

“Take me to jail,” he says.

The cops don’t want to take him to jail. They want him to go with us. He has called their bluff.

“I ain’t going,” he says. “I have rights.”

“You’re not going to win this argument,” one of the cops says. “There are five of us and one of you.”

“I ain’t going.”

“I’ve got a taser,” the cop says.

I’m about to suggest that I have Ativan and Haldol and maybe the chemical restraint will be a better idea if he is going to try to resist, but I can see the man is staring at the cop’s holster that holds the taser. He is probably picturing the same scene that I am. The cop tasering the guy. His big body becoming rigid as the electricity shoots through him, then collapsing limply. Maybe even causing him to pee his pants.

“All right,” he says, clearly unhappy. “You going to see my chair gets put in my room?”

“We’ll take care of it,” the cop says.

“They’re a bunch of thieves here,” he says.

“We’ll keep it safe.”

“Fucking assholes won’t let me smoke,” he says as we head out to the ambulance.


Postscript 11/14/05

I go back to this nursing home a couple weeks later and find the same man sitting in his wheelchair about thirty feet from the main door. He’s just sitting there staring at it, watching it open as people come in, then close again. If he moves forward the door will lock. If he stays where he is, at least he can feel some breeze on his face. I am tempted to tell my partner to hold the door open, then get behind the guy and make a run for it. Nursing home break! I feel really sorry for the guy. On my way out, he is still there. I stop at the rest room in the hall, but the door is locked. “You need to get a key at the desk,” he says, helpfully.