Monday, March 28, 2005

Life Lessons

At 10:23pm on Sunday March 12th, 2000, my recruit and I got a call from the First Care walk-in clinic on Huffman Road. They had a male patient with head lacerations. He wasn’t very forthcoming about how he got the injuries but after repeated questioning by the doctor he said that, after a verbal argument with his wife, he hit himself three times in the head with a bedpost.

My recruit was puzzled about how to put this in the computer: was it a suicide attempt? an assault? Perhaps I’m a bit cynical but this would be the first person I’d ever heard of that had attempted suicide by bedpost. We have had lots of folks jumping off of buildings or taking pills or shooting themselves. Once in a while we’ll have a hanging. A bedpost would be stinkin’ creative. And anyway, I’m thinking his soon-to-be-ex wife was responsible for putting the guy under the influence of a bedpost, but that’s just me.

Lesson: well… that whole “don’t go to bed angry” rule seems to apply here.

A couple of weeks later (and I’ll confess, not on my shift, but I’ve got the paperwork to prove that it really happened) we got a call from an Anchorage Refuse garbage truck driver.

First let me paint a little picture for you: Garbage trucks have a ladder that runs from the front bumper up to the front lip of the trash area, just about dead center so it’s not a big obstruction to the driver’s line of sight.

The caller was doing his nightly rounds emptying Dumpsters™ when, as he’s driving alone down the street in the middle of the night, a guy climbs down the ladder face-first from the top. Scares the bejeezus out of garbage man. Think about it: Even if you were getting a bit sleepy or distracted by loud Tom Waits music, you’d probably make a trash deposit of your own in your coveralls if you saw a guy climb DOWN YOUR WINDSHIELD as you are driving down the street in the middle of the night. So the driver slams on the brakes and calls on his radio for his dispatcher to call the police.

A quick investigation revealed that the subject (who took several years off the life of our friend the garbage man by making his grand entrance) had been sleeping in a Dumpster™ and had been dumped into the truck without the driver noticing (not hard, I’m sure).

Sadly, he hadn’t JUST been dumped into the truck. He’d been dumped at least four Dumpsters™ before and the driver had turned on the compactor at least three times. Three times! The guy was in pretty bad shape (had at least one broken arm, a broken leg, and a broken collarbone) but he was darn lucky to be alive. God watches over those sleeping in the trash too, apparently.

Lesson: don’t sleep in Dumpsters™... ever. Better to smack yourself in the head with a bedpost a couple of times. Then you’ll at least go to the hospital in a more comfortable vehicle.