I was tired when I finally clocked out that morning. Thankfully, we didn’t get a late call and we scrubbed the ambulance down and uploaded our charts without incident. On the long drive home I thought about my conversation with the supposed “Mrs. Murphy.” In the cold light of day and 8 oclock traffic I was inclined to believe she was a lunatic. Maybe schizophrenic. Some sort of dissosciative disorder definitely.
“So your husband deliberately makes things go wrong…for amusement…”
“Well yes, dear, his amusement. I’m afraid he is rather ego centric.”
“And you’re telling me this because something I’m doing-or not doing-is making him grumpy-“
“Perhaps a bit more than just grumpy. We are only as strong as our believers, you know. But in essence, yes, you’re spoiling his fun.”
“-and far from being likewise upset, you want me to continue, er, whatever.”
She beamed at me like a newly made grandma. That is, if grandmas somewhat resembled a wizened shark with bracelets.
“Precisely! It makes my job much easier, on the balance of things.”
I shook my head, glancing out my window at the sheep farm to see if the lambs were in the nearest pasture. Awww, there they were. I had a fondness for the sheep farm on my way home. It was like having a pastoral painting in a room full of Picassos. A peaceful bit of sense not trying to be any more elaborate or convoluted than chasing shadows and nibbling in contentment. I put Mrs Murphy out of my mind and concentrated on making it back home with out falling asleep.
After six solid hours of sleep, I thought maybe I had hallucinated the entire event and got ready for the night halfway amused at the audacity of my imagination. My husband made it home just as I was leaving. A quick kiss and I was out the door. I left an hour before I had to clock in, just to make sure I arrived on time. Being late was anathma to me.
Twenty minutes and two accident scenes later I was glad I’d left when I had. I glanced nervously at the clock on my dashboard, willing the minutes to tick by slower than the traffic. “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, quit rubbernecking and drive!” The traffic cleared at last and I pushed past the speed limit in the vain attempt to make up for lost time. With the cops tied up on both scenes I was reasonably sure I wouldn’t get a ticket…but just to make sure I only drove 9 over. I made it to the station with two minutes to spare and rushed in to swipe my badge just before the time clock ticked over to 745 (late). “Ha!” I said triumphantly.
“Keefer, we’ve been looking for you.” The shift supervisor raised his eyebrows at me and I smiled, “Got stuck in both accidents on T—- street.”
“Maybe you should leave a little earlier and give yourself some room, traffic does happen.” I just laughed and shrugged my shoulders. Pompous ass, I do leave early and I still made it here on time.
“Anyway, you’ve been assigned a permenant partner. You’ll be working with George, he’s on Medic 8 already.”
“Ok, cool. Have a good night!” I hauled my bag through the door into the ambulance bay. Of all the nights to be running late, I didn’t want my partner to think I was a slacker. I took a deep breath and found my sense of humor again. That was just the way life went, and if we stayed together for long enough my partner would know I didn’t make a habit of being late.
George was a tall red headed medic in his early thirties, with the beginnings of a receding hair line and the typical spare tire of too much fast food shoveled down between calls. I’d seen him before, but I’d never ridden with him. I’d heard a mixed bag, including the report that he was chronically grumpy and hot tempered. Whenever other medics pointed out the irritable behavior of coworkers it made me giggle a bit inside. Seriously, EMTs deal with a lot of crap under a lot of stress and often hungry and tired to boot-we were ALL jerks on occassion. It’s why I worked so hard at being cheerful-the alternative wasn’t something I could stomach for long.
“Hey, I’m Sarah.” I popped my head into the back on my way to throw my book in the front seat. George glanced up, “George. Nice to meet you.” Once my stuff was stowed I climbed back into the box. “What do you need me to do?” I wanted to firmly establish him as lead medic on the truck. Not only did he have more experience than I, but I hated being in charge. “I’ve got most of it done, if you could turn in the monitor check and grab a non rebreather I think that’s it.” He was rubberbanding IV needles together as he spoke and placing them back in the bag. “God, I hate this shit.” He pulled out a clump of needles taped together instead of rubber banded. “People are too damn lazy.”
I nodded sympathetically as I grabbed the monitor strip, “That’s the truth.” And hopped out to get the NRB.
I felt unsettled and on edge-I didn’t know how this night was going to go, or how well George and I would mesh. I hoped he wasn’t the flirty type, I hated dealing with the flirty type. Not only was I horrendous at flirting, but I was also still firmly, sometimes downright nauseatingly, in love with my husband-and didn’t want there to be even a hint of otherwise. That was an oddity in and of itself around here apparently. People in EMS seemed to fall in and out of relationships all the time (sometimes simultaneously). I knew most guys flirted out of habit and friendliness, but I’d still wind up feeling like a moron because I wouldn’t know how to respond. I sighed and made myself smile as I turned in the monitor strip. Everyone I’d ridden with were good people, for all their quirks, there was no reason for George to be any different. The radio tone went off, interrupting my thoughts. “Medic 8…” I snatched a NRB from the storage bin and fast walked out to the truck. Here goes nothing…