Friday, March 30, 2007

Here's My Cape

After 20 years of service on an Ambulance I have finally decided that enough was enough. There was no fanfare when I made that decision; there were no tears, just unmitigated disgust. The sole basis for this disgust is that I should have done it sooner. I am only angry at myself. I truly love health care and the awesome people you meet along the way. It is just that EMS is an industry that has not evolved far enough to keep from loosing its people. Simply put, EMS eats it young.

I love to hear people say, “you are doing a wonderful job” in my opinion it equates out to the same as, “I wouldn’t do it if you paid me.” Let’s face it, EMS is the combination of three careers, Fire, Nursing and Funeral service. To this day we still perform all three duties by working 24 hours like Firefighters, giving medications like Nurses and recovering body parts like Morticians. But we all paid way less hourly than any of those three. However the demand for Paramedics today is so high in Alabama that street level Paramedics are making upwards of 60,000 dollars or more a year. (The reason being that there are more people leaving the field than there are graduating.) WAIT, before you quit your job and head to EMS school there are some things I should let you in on:

1. 24 hours without proper sleep can lead to Ambulance crashes.
2. 100 hours of overtime in two weeks means you have no life.
3. Divorce is mandatory.
4. What holidays?
5. People who wreck their cars sometimes have HIV.
6. Apathy is your sidekick.
7. Nightmares are free of charge.
8. Bad knees and lower back strains are also free
9. Other Allied medical personnel couldn’t do your job but they
make more than you.
10. There are no bag pipes when you die and there is no benevolent
fund either.

My career has not been all that bad I have met a lot of people, saintly as well as demonic. I have seen what the power of community can do, as well as what happens when no one cares. I have held the hand of the dying and joked with the depressed. I have felt the pain of loss by losing fellow Medics to heart attacks and strokes. (As well as overdoses and gunshot wounds to the head.) Believe me this is not the ranting of a clinically burned out medic… because there is no such diagnosis. I will leave the lights and sirens to the few Paramedics exiting school as I study to be a nurse. Why a nurse you ask? Because hospitals don’t flip on wet roads, blow tires or force you to go to blows with a homicidal patient.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

American Apocalypse

I went to a small coastal town on the west side of New Orleans yesterday. The 5 hour drive from Montgomery Alabama was awesome. I listened to NPR on different affiliate station as I maneuvered my way along the Gulf Coast from I-65 south to I-10 West crossing the Pearl River into Louisiana and then to I-12 West towards my destination. The roads were fairly clear and patrolled heavily by troopers. I only hit light congestion outside of Slidell. After finding my destination and completing my task (Ok, a job interview) I figured that a quick stop off in New Orleans for a couple of hot Beignets and a cup of coffee complete with chicory would be great. I would not get either.

I went on my honeymoon in the Big Easy in 1994. New Orleans was vibrant and multicultural with its French décor, wrought iron fences and people with their thick Cajun accents. The smell of boiled crawfish and Creole spice was everywhere. The sound of Jazz filled the humid autumn air as my new wife and I walked down Canal Street making a right on Bourbon Street. We were both transfixed by this wonderful city. There were sidewalk cafés with chalkboards filled with the day’s special in colorful chalk. Their alfresco tables were adorned with white linen tablecloths, silverware and napkins as waiters weaved their way between customers filling empty water glasses. I fell in love with this place called New Orleans. However I would only visit it one other time and that was yesterday.

On my way into New Orleans I couldn’t help notice street after street of boarded up buildings, destroyed homes, and my personal complete sense of loss. There were buildings with marks that showed where the water level was after the levees broke. There were large trucks hauling debris up and down the roadways. There was a military presence. Listening to the radio (between the conciliatory ads from Allstate Insurance Company and the numerous calls for volunteers for the recovery effort) I realized that New Orleans was now the murder capital of the U.S. That fact alone did not scare me. The fact that rats were everywhere did not scare me. The fact that this disastrous event that scattered a population of people, deluged a city by a Biblical flood and showed that we were not ready and could never be ready for something on the scale of Hurricane Katrina…scared me senseless. (There are no pictures that could actually show the complete destruction or recovery, be mindful this is almost two years later) Once I got my eyeful of sadness and with my belly growling I exited the city and headed back to Montgomery Alabama.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Alabama Legislative Pay Raise

Alabama Legislators felt they deserved a 62 percent increase in pay and incentives, so they voted it in. Be mindful that this increase is retroactive to the day they were elected in November 2006. So these state lawmakers will be receiving hefty paychecks for their part-time work. Am I angered by this? Am I incensed that these part-time elected individuals are using the system to their benefit? Well I am as mad as any Alabama tax payer should be. But the kicker is, if you think those dissenting voices will refuse their raises in protest…you have another thing coming. However my question is where is the money coming from for their raises?

I cannot see what is so hard about being a legislator. They are in antique surroundings. They have heat and air-conditioning. They do not have to break rocks, cut grass or wash windows. They are not in danger of armed 13 year old drug dealers or bi-polar football players. They don’t have to operate asphalt machinery in the direct Alabama sun. They do not have to deal with felons, repeat offenders or shoot outs. All they have to do is meet, vote, discuss meeting to vote and eat lunch. Is this elected job really deserving of 50 thousand dollars a year? (The key word being elected)

I heard a Senator or Representative say on WSFA that this increase was so the average man could survive if he became an Alabama State Legislator…hot hogwash. In my opinion an average non-political person could not run for the statehouse because campaigns are extremely expensive. We are talking at least a couple hundred thousand to a million dollars for a 50 thousand a year job and you might not get elected. This job is not meant for the working man and woman. Let’s face it we have been duped again.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Man Dogs

Walking in Montgomery’s Shakespeare
Park I noticed dog owners taking advantage of the same beautiful weather as I. There were large short hairs, small short hairs, tiny long hairs and dogs that didn’t walk but were carried. But what actually caught my attention was a man slowly turning in circles on the side of the paved walk way. As I cautiously approached I noticed he was holding a tiny leash. And as I drew nearer I realized there was what resembled a dog on the end of that leash. This thing was so small it disappeared into the uncut clover! If I had on gloves I would have removed one walked right up to him and smacked him on both of his cheeks!

What has become of man’s best friend? Where did dogs like Old Yeller, Lassie and the Saint Bernard with the small barrel of rum under his chin go? What ever happened to the junk yard dog or the dog that could out run you on your bicycle? I remember as a kid that dogs had jobs. They rode on the back of pickup trucks to protect your tools and your beer cooler. They played fetch. (Try playing fetch with a tea cup poodle). They might have slept indoors but not in your bed. They went fishing with you. They went hunting with you and occasionally peed on a tire that you owned, so he owned it too. Man dogs used to be really, really big dogs. Now big dogs are out of style.

In my opinion an itsy-bitsy dog is just another bill. It cannot protect your home. It cannot warn you in case of a fire. It could not stop an intruder or even scare one. (Actually I have been to a homicide where the owner’s tiny dog was still alive). What in the world would a person, especially a man; want with a dog so small it could hide in a shoe? A dog so little you have to carry it and worry about it being stolen. Why not get a goldfish? I would not possess something that would allow my family to be robbed or hurt and then still wants to be fed. No sir. I want a dog like a Japanese Tosa. This hundred-plus-pounds of man dog can bark and instantly the whole block knows who’s king. This dog is so big that it would be feeding on an intruder when you got home. Just like real dogs are supposed to.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

United Bandits Association Local 771

What in the name of all things holy did a New York mugger prove in robbing a 101 year old woman? She was pushed, shoved, man handled and then knocked to the floor. And the sad part was that she walks with a walker. Did he realize if he is ever caught, every self respecting convict will be after perverted liberties with him, just to prove a point? (Prisoners do have code of ethics, go figure) This person has truly lost man points. Mugging this hyper elderly person who had no visible means of protecting herself ( even if she was standing in a gun store) was the same as knocking out a two year old, then professing your strength as a boxer. Come on.

This had to be some one who did not want a challenge for his ill gotten gains of 33 dollars. This mugger has to be the laughing stock of the entire prison industrial complex in America. Can’t you just imagine the conversations that are going on in local jails and prisons? If he is ever caught he will be considered a “trophy” for the arresting office and a prison “trophy” (as in Big Bubba’s possession). Need I explain more?

If he really wanted to be considered a criminal of the highest order he should have robbed one of New York’s infamous Piru or Skyline Blood gang members with a fake pistol and then bragged about it. That robbery would have not been a media event; he would have gained street credibility all through New York, if he wasn’t murdered in retaliation first. But the point is, being a thief, especially a Lilly-livered thief, who made his escape on a bicycle after robbing a centenarian has to be in my book lower a man who wears pantyhose because he likes the way they feel.


Monday, March 05, 2007

Dangerous Dad

I saw a video that actually sent chills down my spine. The video showed a clip of two teenagers giving pot to a 2 YEAR OLD and a 5 YEAR OLD. These small children knew how to hold the joint. It was apparent they had done it before. This scene disturbed me to the point I had to take a couple of 800mg Motrin. If that had been my own 4 year old with his pudgy little lips wrapped around that joint, there would not have been enough police at the hostage situation I would have caused. The headlines would have read, “Distraught Dad Detains Duo.” In my opinion there are some things you just have to be willing to go to jail over, and I think the safety of your own children is one of them.

I have seen so many tragic, vile and despicable things done to children as a Paramedic. This video should have not bothered me…but it did. Children are voiceless victims who are at the mercy of their villains, they cannot protect themselves. I have seen them physically abused, sexually abused, mentally abused and often murdered. And this video is one example of irresponsibility on the part of the teenagers and definitely the parent(s). Our children are assets pure and simple and they should be treated as such. Being a parent myself I know this makes me bias, but who cares this is my blog. These young men are apparently irresponsible to point where a couple of years in prison should be mandatory. And I would be willing to drive them there myself.

These two kids are now in protective services (thank God) but now mom wants them back. Ok, first let me take a deep breath. Mom had to have noticed the pot odor on her kids. That is the first thing a parent does after being away from them all day is get close enough to touch and then SMELL their children. It’s automatic. You can tell if something is wrong when you are that close, if they have a fever, or if they have been in something they shouldn’t have been, i.e, perfume, medication, or cake. Moms are notorious for doing this. Dads are not as quick to do it but they still do it. I know I do. I think these kids should remain in protective custody until those teenagers have been sentenced.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Competition Trick Eating

Breakfast buffets are awesome. There are mounds of sausages, bacon and scrambled eggs waiting to be piled high onto a plate. There is all you can eat and drink a literal cornucopia of breakfast goodness. I recently went to a morning buffet and after paying went immediately to the custom omelet line. Standing there I watched as the egg chef hurriedly folded each omelet before passing it to the next waiting customer. I casually turned to make small talk with the gentleman behind me when I noticed he was so large he could barely breathe. He coughed and snored as he stood there sweating profusely while holding on to the very thing that was killing him…his plate. Upon seeing this I stepped out of line. I know I must have seemed crazy but I put my plate down and looked around the restaurant. The dining room honestly looked like a pasture full of grazing animals. The only small people I saw were the waitresses, waiters filling empty glasses and cleaning the bar. The rest of the small people were walking outside of the restaurant. I grabbed one high fiber muffin, drank two cups of coffee with Splenda and paid my bill. I actually smiled as I walked out of there.

Buffets have to be the epitome of food waste and oral hedonism where chair after chair of super morbidly obese people sit and consume massive calories until they wobble away. There is nothing wrong with having a variety of foods to choose from but something has to be said or done about competition trick eating. Buffets should actually come with a health warning on the door that reads,

"Caution the contents of this establishment will cause obesity; diabetes; hypertension and heart failure consume at your own risk!"

I believe we as a people are so quick to throw up a red flag for such things as: smoking, drinking, illicit drug usage, promiscuous sexual behavior and sex toys. We forget that consuming mass quantities (sorry Coneheads) causes just as much damage to the body as a gunshot wound. Yet as still, there are buffets all over the place creating one stroke victim at a time.

I know my beloved South is full of delicious foods that have fed families for generations. Our older generations talk of drawing water from wells, feeding hogs, chopping wood, walking to school and church, as well as filling barns with hay. They practically did not have enough time to sit still to gain weight. They were active people who associated being overweight with being lazy and greedy. They had to have a large meal in order to survive. But when you put these items on a hot bar with a sneeze guard and then ring the slop bell, things quickly get out of hand. Remove the heavy labor and you are left with double chins, diabetes, and dimply butt cheeks. And people so big they snore when they are awake.