Changing Season

People were out raking today or in many cases using their high-powered blowers to clear their lawns of the orange and red leaves still falling from the trees. They didn’t have those blowers when I was a kid. I’m lucky though, I have a small yard now and don’t get many leaves. The ones that I do I just ignore. My neighbors who haven’t run me off the street yet, I think have come to accept my yard as it is. It will never make better homes and Gardens, but at least I haven’t put any flamingos up.

It was a beautiful morning, cool and sunny. I went to the gym and rode the stationary bike and then ran on the treadmill. I know on a day like this I should have been running on the slightly sloping streets admiring the November day, but I am just getting into running and didn’t want anyone calling 911 if I have a coughing, phlegm spitting I can’t breathe I can’t breath oh my god my lungs hurt vomiting dizzy fit as I hit the first mile mark. Anyway, it was a good workout. My body is adjusting to my new emphasis on cardio while I maintain my strength-training.

I was going to get my haircut afterwards. I’ve let it get awfully long, which if I was back in the 1970’s or 80’s would be perfectly fine, it is a little bit out of style now. Women my age and slightly older tell me how much they like it. My girlfriend and others younger tell me it is too long and I need to get it cut. I like it long myself. It makes my feel younger and stronger. You know, the Samson sort of thing. I debated the issue, and then in the words of the immortal David Crosby,

Almost cut my hair
But I didn’t…

I go into work in the late afternoon. I’m going to be working more overtime shifts between now and the end of the year, and I have decided to work more evening shifts. With all the new hires there aren’t as many openings during the day, and the truth is I am getting a little tired of the city traffic, the constant movement from one post to the next, as well as the heavy load of transfers.

Tonight I am assigned a clean cut young man half my age, who has only been working at the company a couple months. He asks me how long I have been a paramedic.

“I started in EMS in 1989,” I say. “I became a medic in 1993, and started here in the city in 1995.”

“That’s insane!” he says.

(I’m assuming — hoping — that expression is similar to the “Crazy! or “Far Out!” sayings of my youth and not a comment on a forty-eight year old sitting behind the wheel of an ambulance.)

Our first call is in the bariatric ambulance for a man who usually requires four people to lift. I’m feeling strong, and my partner is fit so we lift him ourselves and have the patient loaded in the back of the ambulance by the time our lift assist crew arrives.

“We’re all set,” I say.

“Are you sure?”

“No, problem. My partner’s strong,” I say.

It’s good to be working at night again. The years I worked nights in the city remain my favorite on the job. At night – the landmarks are different. What is hidden during the day is visible at night and vice versa. The streets, all lit up, seems like a different city. Aide from downtown the streets are empty, and so it takes little time and much less aggravation to reach the calls. The hospitals are less crowded. Seldom is there a line at triage. Aside from some of the psychs, people are friendlier.

After clearing a call, I get a pulled pork sandwich with onion rings from a place I’d heard was good, and wash it down with a bottle of water. It is good, but a little too pricey to become a regular stop.

We cruise downtown for awhile – many of the bars are new or have at the least changed their names. The women strolling past on their date’s arms, look younger.

We do a staggering drunk outside a liquor store, babbling in an incomprehensible mixture of Spanish and English. He can’t tell us his name or date of birth, but we pad him down and find a state card in his back pocket. He is well known at the hospital where we help the nurses restrain him to a recliner.

Later a car goes off the road and down an embankment. The driver, a not quite still pretty woman in her early to mid thirties, says she was just tired. She looks like things haven’t been going her way. She sits in the back of the cruiser and through tears, signs the refusal.

We get off about fifteen minutes late. I zip up my coat as I walk across the darkened parking lot to my car. The temperature has dropped to freezing. Already there is frost on the windows.


  • Kerry says:

    i was a strict day shifter for two years, then ended up switching to nights to better accomodate my girlfriend’s work schedule. i can’t see myself ever going back to days, with all the traffic, non-stop b.s. calls, etc. we definitely get better quality calls at night. it’s worth having to force my body and brain into an unnatural rhythm.

  • Stacey says:

    “Thats insane” in the context that he seems to have been using it = Cool/awesome/wow/amazing…

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