The Talker

“Tis better to be alone than in bad company” – Hurt Machine by Reed Farrel Coleman

Ever been around someone who talked all the time. Incessantly. No pauses. A running monologue of irrelevant observations and mind numbing platitudes till blood oozed from your ears and your organs began to shut down.

I have. Just this past week.

I had the unfortunate responsibility to train a new driver. God got even with me for some past transgression. Having endured the madness, I’m sure I have a free pass through the pearly gates.

So for three straight days I was locked in the van with Jimmy. Eight hours a day. Twenty four hours of unimaginable hell.

Medical Transport is not rocket science. However, there are protocols each driver must follow to execute the job.

We use a tablet to receive assignments. Pick up and drop off times, addresses as well as names and other pertinent info must be accessed and various sign in techniques must be learned. All involve working with a tablet and a unique computer program.

The first two days the trainee works with only the computer. The last day they do everything and the trainer merely observes.

The first day began the nonstop assault on my nerves. Talk, talk, talk. Condescending statements. Questionable observations. All delivered with a dull, irritating voice void of modulation.

The second day more of the same. At some point, as we were cruising the freeway at seventy mph, I actually considered opening the door and exiting the vehicle.

The third day I just lost it. I crossed the threshold. I was no longer a functioning human being.

Example:

Jimmy: Have you ever eaten at McDonalds?

Me: Are you serious? Every American, at one point in their life, has eaten at McDonalds. Why would you ask me such a stupid question?

Jimmy: Well, I was going to show you the first McDonald built in Tulsa.

Me: I couldn’t care less. I don’t want you to show me anything. Shut up and drive.

Jimmy: I went to grammar school just over that hill.

Me: (Silence)

Shortly we were cruising a major 6 lane highway in the middle lane doing 80 MPH. While he droned on about some innocuous subject he kept drifting in and out of the lane next to us. One driver in that lane had to slam the brakes to avoid a collision.

He was oblivious as he obsessed about the condition of man.

I asked him if he was aware he was drifting in and out of the lane?

Did not respond. Instead he began to discuss something else.

Jimmy: I think people should calmly discuss feelings and opinions respectfully so we can all learn from each other.

Something in my physiological system slid sideways. Alarms went off. Pulse quickened. Body chemistry changed. I began to drift in another dimension.

We are dangerously drifting in and out of our lane at 80 MPH and the driver is insane.

I lost it.

Me: I don’t give a damn what other people think. About anything. Do you understand? Furthermore, you need to stop talking and focus on your driving. I am not going to listen to anything you have to say. What you think.

If you so much as blink in the next 3 hours I am going to kill you. Got it?

 

“It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense – Mark Twain

Posted in All kinds, America, Conversations, drivers, Jobs, life | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Attention Getters

 “True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country” – Kurt Vonnegut

99% of the patients we transport are just trying to get through the day. Not given to conversation. Riding in silence. Resigned.

We pick them up. Drop them off. And on to the next one.

And then there are the attention getters.

Make you ride higher in the driver’s seat. Kind of unconsciously force you to increase pressure on the accelerator.

For instance:

Picked up Margaret at the OU psychiatric hospital for transportation home. 42 years old.

Margaret: Sorry I’m late. Had issues and the session took longer. (1 hour longer)

Me: You okay?

Margaret: Yeah. Got my meds. I’m OK. Sometimes I just want to hurt somebody. You know….really mess them up.

(Long pause………………………….)

Me: (quick look in the rear view mirror. She seems sort of agitated. Hard lines on her face.) It’s Ok Margaret. I didn’t mind the wait. I get paid by the hour. (trying to keep the atmosphere light)

Silence. No response.

A very long 10 minute ride. A real uncomfortable situation. Quick, furtive peeks in the back. Hoping she took her meds.

Then there was Samantha. 31.

Picked her up around 10 am for an appointment at the OBGYN clinic. She waddles up the sidewalk. Obviously very pregnant.

I joke……Birthing is not allowed in the van.

Better get going then. I’m 9 months pregnant and this one is real close.

Wow. OK. Hit the road Jack. We are out of here.

So is this your first?

Nope. My 5th.

(Oh My God. Don’t they get easier and faster with each successive one? This one will probably pop out like a champagne cork. Damn…..I didn’t sign up for this.)

(Hit a bump in the road. Was that a moan from the back? Why are my hands shaking?)

(Got to get a grip. Avoid all bumps)

(Oh my God…..my bladder is talking to me. Not now. Please God. Almost there. Just 5 more minutes.)

In the end….we made it.

“If you are unable to feel fear, you cannot be courageous” – The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo

Posted in All kinds, America, Behavior, Conversations, Doctor, fear, God, health, life, medicine, Oklahoma, sex, Texas | Leave a comment

One Last Hug

“There is a wisdom of the head and a wisdom of the heart” – Charles Dickens

Retirement bored me. So…………I got a part time job driving a van for a medical transport company here in Tulsa. Have been doing that for about 4 months now.

One day I drove a 62 year old woman to the hospital.

She looked really down. Sad.

You naturally want to do something to lighten the load. Help carry the cross.

Got to be careful. Getting involved with these riders is risky business. Possibly the last thing they want to do is discuss their problems with strangers. You become intrusive.

Then there are times when those in pain welcome the opportunity to unload. The caveat here is the emotional price imposed on your soul.

She seemed approachable so I engaged her in conversation. Wanted to ease her mind if I could.

Having a bad day I ventured.

Yeah. My mother is dying of breast cancer. She chokes on the words.

Silence. Neither of us speak for several minutes. The solemn moment requires no comment.

And then, a redacted account of her mother’s struggle with cancer. I listened. And paid the price for getting involved. There is no avenue for me to share the load. The cross is too heavy.

I feel so inadequate.

Arrived at the hospitable. She got out.

She said she had to give her Mother one Last Hug, turned and walked away.

Drove and thought. Lost it.

“Everyone has holes in their heart”

Posted in America, Behavior, cancer, Conversations, death, drivers, health, Kindness, life, pain | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Day in the LIfe of………..

“Stepping into a tornado screams…..This is the dumbest thing you will ever do.” –  Shannon Messenger, Let the Sky Fall

 

So I was minding my own business.

Just doing my job.

Driving a patient to her appointment.

Suddenly……

Rain so hard and dense the truck in front of me disappeared. Wind so strong the van was pushed to weird angles.

What the hell is going on?

Gripped the wheel and slowed to 5 mph. Prayed no one would plow into us.

About 5 minutes later visibility improved and we breathed a sigh of relief. Continued on to the destination.

Arrived. The patient opens the door to the sound of a siren in the distance. A tornado warning, I wonder. Surely not.

Surely yes, as it turned out.

Learned later that at that time and place a tornado had formed and moved away from us to the East.

A day in the life of………….

 

“Sometimes, doing the right thing at the wrong time can be as bad as straight up doing the wrong thing.”

Posted in ACCIDENTS, America, drivers, fear, Jobs, life, Oklahoma, Strange, Texas | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Make A Way

“You are going to die. There is no question about that. The question is are you going to live?”

 

Been working this medical transport thing for 3 months.

Poor health is a heavy cross.

Poverty exacerbates the misery.

These people live with both daily.

I work with them 8 hours a day.

I am reluctant to share this experience. We all have our share of problems. Right?

However, there is an attribute that many of these people share. A way of coping.

It surprised me and maybe you too will be startled by this mechanism.

In their words – “I’ve given my problems to the Lord. Let him deal with them”

And, quite frankly, I don’t know how to wrap my brain around that.

I mean, how is that a simple act can alleviate the pain and misery these people cope with daily?

Sometimes the body is unfathomable. So too the mind.

 

“Nothing is too wonderful to be true” – An Unquiet Mind by Kay Jamison

Posted in All kinds, America, Behavior, Conversations, death, God, health, human, life, misery, pain, religion, Strange, Texas | Leave a comment

Love on the road

“I thought I was promiscuous, but it turns out I was just thorough.” Russell Brand

While driving for a medical transportation co in the Tulsa area, I use a blue tooth device with my Iphone to monitor the GPS app that is giving me directions.

The ear plug makes it easier to hear over road noise etc. and only I can hear the directions or incoming phone calls.

Yesterday, while picking up a 62 year old lady for transportation to her Doctor appointment, my daughter called. Remember, the lady cannot hear the incoming call.

“Hi Ann, what’s up?”

“Just checking on you Dad. You left before I got up”

“I know. Had an 8 o’clock pick up. Had to leave early”

“Oh. You OK? Everything cool?”

“Everything’s fine. Just now picking the lady up so got to run. See you guys around 5”

“OK. Love you Dad”

“I love you”

Meanwhile, the lady just hears my “I love you”.

She has this startled look and I tell her that was my daughter on the phone.

Wow. For a moment I thought you were talking to me and I was thinking this is some kind of service and even though this is a very fast relationship I’ll take it. I need all I can get at this age.

You had to be there.

“My best birth control now is just to leave the lights on.” – Joan Rivers

Posted in All kinds, America, Behavior, Conversations, drivers, human, language, life, sex | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

What it means to be human

“Before 70 we are merely respected at best and we have to behave all the time. But after 70 we are respected, esteemed, admired, and revered and don’t have to behave unless we want to” – Mark Twain

 

We humans are a strange species. We have to learn over and over what it means to be human.

I’m learning. Transporting poor people with a wide range of physical and emotional problems is the teacher.

The grandmother raising the 12 year old autistic grandson.

The 42 year old single mother on dialysis.

The many coping with cancer. Pain. Treatments.

Just a few examples.

All living in various degrees of poverty.

For these people, the dominant dynamic is pain. Physical and emotional. 24/7.

This can be an overwhelming environment.

How do these people cope?

What drives them to march on?

It’s been my experience that they all remain optimistic and frame their condition with the right perspective.

They embrace life. Not the suffering.

It could be worse.

I’m on this side of the dirt.

And so on.

Wow.

Maybe that’s what it means to be human.

At least to some.

 

“It seems like there is something out there before you get to it”

Posted in ACCIDENTS, All kinds, cancer, Doctor, evil, fear, God, health, human, life, medicine, misery, Texas | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Balance

“It was the word, sad. Sad has an ugly weight” – The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais

 

“I scream my questions at the universe. Most of them never get answered”

But this one did. Well………sort of.

A confession here. I’m kind of a softie when it comes to some things.

Like beautiful music. A great book. A wonderful movie. Happy, and sad, human experiences.

I seem to tear up easily. It can be embarrassing.

“Daddy…what’s wrong? Are you crying?”

No. Of course not. Just allergies.

Anyway, I became concerned. What’s wrong with me? Am I depressed? Am I losing my mind?

So I sought answers.

Turns out my emotional components, in conjunction with my brain, are merely working hard to maintain an emotional equilibrium.

Apparently, when I become too happy…the brain says enough already. You’re getting carried away with this happiness gig.

So it slams me with a solid dose of sadness. Crying is a physical manifestation designed to bring me back to center.

Wait a minute. I really want to O.D. on happiness.

This is so weird.

 

“With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” – Oscar Wilde

Posted in America, Behavior, Books, escape, health, human, Kindness, life, Music, pain, sex, Strange, Texas | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Dangerous Behavior

“In Seattle, you haven’t had enough coffee until you can thread a sewing machine while it’s running”

 

Been driving for a medical transport co. for several weeks.

The most important thing I’ve learned in that brief time is that I must learn to control my emotions.

If I don’t…..my blood pressure will rise alarmingly and my head will explode.

Why is that you wonder.

Because of the insane number of drivers plundering our highways, every day I confront my own mortality, up close and personal.

Insane: not sane, mentally deranged, and utterly senseless.

These idiots obviously do not understand:

Traffic laws

Laws of physics

Common courtesy

Now if they only harmed themselves by plowing into a bridge at 90 mph that would be a good thing. Clean up the gene pool.

But no……invariably they damage the lives of others. Often irreparably.

Where is the justice?

 

“Fundamental changes of behavior hardly ever happen” – The Thirst by Joe Nesbo

Posted in ACCIDENTS, All kinds, America, Behavior, drivers, harm, life, Rude | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Life in Perspective

“Patient care should always be the key objective for any healthcare provider. It’s as simple as that” – Florence Nightingale

 

I’ve been driving for this medical transport co for 2 weeks. We transport old and/or indigent people to doctors and other medical services.

I’ve discovered a few things I did not know.

How very necessary this service is.

These people are desperately in need of the service. They cannot transport themselves and they cannot afford to pay for it. Without this service, most of them would either die or live really miserable lives.

There are a few things the government does well and this is one of them. Uncle Sam gets an A+ here.

The patients.

Roughly 50% of our patients are on Dialysis. That number surprised me. Had no idea that number of people are living on Dialysis. Imagine what that is like.

3 days a week – 4 hours each day. And the rest of that day spent recuperating from the procedure. That blows 3 days per week. 43% of their lives.

These people either get a kidney transplant or spend the rest of their lives living on the edge.

Thus far, the age range, in my experience, is 23 to 90.

Puts things in perspective doesn’t it.

 

“I think that there is something beautiful about mortality. It makes our decisions mean more.”  – Brandon Boyd

Posted in America, death, Doctor, drivers, Jobs, life, medicine, Oklahoma, service, sex, Texas | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment