I’m gonna go out on a limb and put up the first text post this blog has had. I’ve been trying to think of a meaningful way to write about the stuff I see working on an ambulance without it coming off as braggary, shock-gore, or needlessly heavy. Everyone asks “what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen?” and I’m always at a loss to give them something that I think would satisfy them. That’s because the answer I could give I think would cause revulsion, and then distance, i.e., “I saw a guy who had been dead for 14 days lying in his last pile of urine and shit. His eyes were completely grey.” Now, I’m the crazy one for working amongst such fucked up shit, and not appearing as if it has an effect. Thus, the distance.
What I figured would be an interesting way to frame the story of a job on an ambulance would be through the pretext of the search for my estranged cousin Eric, who has been rumored to be living in San Francisco.
Working EMS in this city is like having a reverse VIP card; I can get in to all the places no one wants to go: hourly hotels, shelters, underneath highway overpasses, crackhouses, heroin houses, homeless camps, crime scenes, drunk tanks, jails, SRO’s, projects, basically the true underbelly, of which San Francisco seems to aggressively foment. At the same time, I get to see tons of ordinary people experiencing extraordinary circumstances, mixed in with long stretches of normalcy. Sometimes just seeing the interior of an 80 year old Cantonese woman’s apartment in Chinatown is really fucking crazy.
My cousin Eric was always the epitome of the “bad influence”. I didn’t know him at all, but nonetheless tried to keep up on his exploits. Before his supposed move to San Francisco, I heard that he was doing small scale crimes and selling drugs in Miami or Fort Lauderdale. He’s been arrested, he’s done prison time, he may or may not have a dependent. He’s severed all family ties over bad blood with my uncle. When I heard a couple years ago that he had possibly moved to San Francisco, I had a very tense, anxious realization that there was a good chance I would run in to him. In actuality, San Francisco is a small, concentrated city, and through some sense of entropy, or gravitation, you will bump into people you know (or are supposed to bump into). And since Eric’s story is similar to the stories of many a dirtbag I have transported in an ambulance, I felt certain that one day I would pull up to the scene of a “Man down”, and it would be him.
I figured an interesting framework for writing about working on an ambulance would be descriptions of events and people leading up to the eventual reunion between my cousin Eric and I. That way, while I am suspensefully waiting for that day, I can write freely about the things I see and do while driving through red lights.
Part 1 coming up soon…