Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Or in my case, a highly intoxicated gentleman pleading for an ambulance.
The day had got off to a shaky start. Being called into a meeting in the neighbouring town, I proceeded to the bus stop to catch my chosen means of transportation, and was fortunate enough that my service arrived at the precise moment I had wished. Immediately. I politely allowed the passengers to vacate before hopping on board with a gleeful skip. Then disaster struck. With a sudden whoosh, the doors closed in around me, trapping my Star Wars backpack in the snarling jaws of the Arriva A bus service. Wide eyed, I shot a disgruntled look at the bus driver. My rear end fully exposed to the chin wagging mothers of Coffee Republic.
“Well, come on in then,” She snorted without the faintest hint of irony.
The doors gave way as my blood began to boil. Begrudgingly ordering my ticket, the bus driver demanded the fee of £4.10, to which I instantly produced a crisp £5 note. The joke was on her, because I actually had the change.
Still frustrated by the incident, I managed to depart the bus at my stop without a further hitch, beginning the pleasant walk to my meeting. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, things were looking up. Then disaster struck again.
“Oi, mate!” Came a call from ahead. Deciding that no good thing has ever come from hearing those two syllables, I kept my head down and attempted to feign ignorance. “Oi, mate. Do me a favour, yeah?” He persisted. Reluctantly peering ahead from under the brim of my snapback, I studied the figure before me. A tall gentleman of about Thirty-five, wearing a heavy coat and grimacing through a patchy beard. On closer inspection I noticed it wasn’t facial hair at all, but what appeared to be a peanut butter smile, the bread crumbs falling off his lips as he spoke. “Can you call an ambulance, mate. My friend’s fallen in the kitchen and his head’s bleedin’ pretty bad,” He slurred, obviously intoxicated as he looked down at the phone in my hand that beamed back the sad truth of Pokémon Go. Damn my compulsive need to catch ’em all, I thought to myself.
From the house next to us came the hysterical cries of an older lady that I deduced to be the gentleman’s mother, as she pleaded with me to help in an ever more desperate tone. With a heavy sigh I dialled 999 and requested the ambulance service, confused to see the gentleman casually stroll away from the scene. In quick fashion my call was answered and I explained the situation at hand. But it wasn’t going to be that easy.
“What I need you to do now is to assess the gentleman and to tell me how badly he’s bleeding and if he’s conscious, can you do that for me?” The operator said, confirming my worst fears that I would have to enter the property.
Strolling over to the front door, it was everything you associate with the colour brown. Just peering in from the open doorway felt like it was enough to contract hepatitis, while the realisation poured over me like a scene from Flash dance, that I was long overdue for my tetanus shot. Bravely stepping one foot inside, I was unfortunate enough that my walk in the open air had cleansed my palate, allowing me to fully savour the rich offerings that passed my nostrils. There was the aroma of a full bodied malt, with heavy hints of ammonia, and a dry semen finish that engaged violently with my gag reflex. The lady of the house impatiently ushered me toward the kitchen ahead, and as I ventured further into the void, I began to panic over exactly what I would find beyond the kitchen door. I decided the best case scenario was that I’d just entered the story of Hansel and Gretel, narrowly edging an opportunistic play for my coveted all-day bus pass. I entered the kitchen.
“Oh, thank God for that,” I exhaled, Nothing pleased me more than to find a man swaying and groaning on the floor as blood gushed from a large gash on his forehead.
“Okay, so he’s not bleeding?” The operator queried in my ear.
“Yeah, nah, he’s fucked it,” I replied candidly to the gentleman’s face, his gaze wandering aimlessly like a pair of lazy eyes. The operator began going through a checklist of questions before requesting that I attempt to stop any bleeding from the wound. I looked about the kitchen and through the sea of browns and yellows that said everything but sanitary. I decided it was time to delegate. As I sought out the lady of the house for her much needed assistance, I walked back through the hall to find her frantically jiggling her key in the meter cupboard. Flabbergasted, I grabbed her attention and asked that she find something to aid the gentleman, gesturing to an open carrier bag by her feet with a pack of fresh kitchen roll inside. She followed my gaze before her eyes snapped back on mine, giving me a look like I’d just shit in her cornflakes. After a few moments of negotiating, she agreed to help in the ways that I instructed as I relayed all the information from the telephone operator.
Moments later the request for an ambulance was logged and the call ended. I breathed a sigh of relief that I had managed to navigate the situation without any physical contact, as thoughts rested on the half a bottle of hand sanitizer I had left. Eager to escape the situation, I reiterated the instructions and advised the lady that I would be outside awaiting the arrival of the ambulance.
Outside, a few minutes passed before the gentleman that initially pleaded for my aid reappeared from a row of bushes. I didn’t ask. Through irreverent mumbles he asked if I had 30 pence to spare, to which I declined, casually zipping my pockets during the following thirty-second stare down. Acknowledging my unwillingness to lend him any change, or simply forgetting the question, he shuffled down the street with a dismissive gesture of the hand, returning minutes later with a newly purchased can of beer. I only wish I had been surprised.
Feeling my sense of duty had been fulfilled, I addressed the lady of the house one last time, noting that the gentleman’s bleeding had stopped, and reassured her that the ambulance was on its way. I refused to be concerned by the vacant expression on her face before I skulked from the property with determined swiftness, my careful steps morphing into bounding leaps as I put as much distance between us as possible. I could feel their gaze burning into my shoulders as my legs carried me to safety with much haste. I was free.
Over the following days I retold the story to a number of people, and the more times I told the story, the more I wondered if I could have done more. If I should have done more. Was it my responsibility to seize control of the situation away from those who seemed inept, or had I done enough to be able to step away knowing that everything was under control? I know I can be a little self absorbed and narcissistic, but deep down I’m a good person, right?