Thursday, July 08, 2010


An ambulance in motion is always a sight. Alarm bells within our souls suddenly start ringing when we hear that siren play its morbid, insistent tune. Rules are permitted to be slashed for the benefit of a life that is suspected of negligence. Traffic signals become an option for the able-bodied only, while ambulance drivers soar indifferently through colours lazily changing. Something thrilling to watch, this blatant disregard for a sacrosanct line we often don't cross. Red light, stop. Green light, go. Orange light, perhaps. Ambulance in front of all -- irrelevant. While we sit and stew and watch it go by in a blast of mortality.

And yet don't we sometimes blame the patient inside for altering the course of our own meager day? Perhaps they are to blame for their own special ill. The extra sandwich that trigged the chest to start leaking its pain. The trip down the stairs due to a distracted moment of afterglow bliss. A knife to the stomach or blow to the head can be forgiven, but our own futile natures?

An amublance at rest puts such thoughts to the side. Doors fling open. Gurneys are hastily pushed out, the people on top swaying this way and that. ('Gurney' Such an ugly, clunky word for a necessary conduit. One cannot find grace with such syntax. The very name itself implies a stodgy, ugly means of mobility. With words come emotion, and here we all fail.) A paramedic pumps one, two, three, one, two, three, while an oxygen mask lazily slips off of the mouth of a man too old to care. (Or so we would like to believe. More reassuring, is it not, to think that these last breaths of his are ones that mean naught? Until we are the ones lying inert and in pain. Watching others watching us die our little deaths. Oh, then we shall wonder how callous and cruel this species can be!)

There are dangers to living so close to a hospital. One constantly is greeted by the sad, lonely faces of people who once were so merry. Legs in casts welcome my days. Lips wrapped around cigarettes blow puffs in my face. Early morning runs bring mortality near, like a poisonous snake coiled ready to strike. And the sight of ambulances so often skirting our rules makes traffic itself seem tenuous and silly. Manmade order that masks disorder itself.