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Sunday, March 20, 2011

You Have Been Warned

There aren't a lot of things I miss about working the streets as an EMT. There are a few, though.

I miss my old partner. Sure, he had psoriasis all over the back of his neck and on his arms and knuckles and, when his flare-ups were really bad it kind of turned my stomach, and he was cheating on his wife with another employee of our company, and that kind of turned my stomach, too, but he was exceedingly nice to me. And, really, when you're in an ambulance with someone for forty hours a week, that's pretty much what counts.

I miss wearing a uniform and a badge. I remember the first time I ever walked into a Krispy Kreme establishment, ordered a coffee, and had my money refused with a smile and a wave-off from the clerk. "Holy shit," I thought, "now I see how the badge'd class can abuse their power-- it's so damn easy. And sometimes power tastes like coffee with cream and six sugars." I enjoyed the authority and the gravitas that a clean, pressed, professional-looking set of blues with a couple shoulder-patches and a badge can carry. It felt good walking around like you owned a hospital-- who was going to stop you from going anywhere you wanted?

And I'd be peeing on your face and calling it a sex-act if I told you that I didn't miss those red lights and that fucking siren. The first time I ever ran hot I thought I was going to get washed away from the massive swamp-ass I was incurring, and the black, plastic steering wheel was positively soaked with palm sweat by the time we reached the E.R., but, after a while, even I learned to relax a little bit during emergency runs and just... enjoy the ride.

The siren is a powerful tool inside an emergency vehicle. It has the power to instantly turn the brains of motorists in front of you into absolute clam chowder. They mean well, but they don't do the right thing. They slam on their brakes. They veer off to the left. They speed up. They turn in front of you. They freak. And I get it. I've done it. You panic and you want desperately to do the procedurally correct thing, the thing that you learned by reading your Driver's Ed manual on the toilet when you were fifteen years and eleven months old, and you inevitably end up fucking up. The siren warns you that something big and potentially dangerous is happening, right behind you, and you'd better get the hell out of the way.

My wife and I were fortunate enough to be in the car to hear another warning intonation yesterday. We were at the bank, about to deposit a check to stimulate our horny bank account, and a very leathery gentleman entered his Mercedes and put it in reverse. A back-up alarm, sounding very much like a child's bicycle horn, or the horn on Harpo's walking stick, sounded. And what warning did it send out to the masses? That an octogenarian was reversing in a 2009 Mercedes E-Class Sedan, thus creating a threatening situation in which a 3,740 pound mass of German engineering may very well injure you, cripple you, and/or terminate your existence had you the misfortune of perambulating across the Bank of America parking lot at that very moment.

And then it occurred to us: cars piloted by old fuckers ought to have alarms that sound, not just when they're backing up, but all the time.

I mean, sure, you can pretty much bet good cash money on the fact that a 1998 Toyota Camry (gray with gray interior) is being driven by someone whose varicose veins resemble the Tigris and Euphrates rivers on a full-zoom image from Google Earth, but why not just cut through the guess-work, save seconds and potentially save human life by forcing elderly drivers to drive cars that produce a high-pitched wail of warning as they barrel down the boulevard or meander across the double yellow line at seven miles-per-hour. That way, you wouldn't have to waste time looking for the pork pie hat or the teased-up blue hair peeking out from behind the driver's side headrest. You'd just know, because of the OFS (Old Fuck Siren).

The best part about the O.F.S. is that it does so much more than just warn you, the unsuspecting, fully-functional public, that some sag-ass named Milton is headed your way in a 1987 Lincoln Continental, its continual whine would actually remind the elderly sonofabitch that s/he is actually driving. You know how old people are-- they forget things, even whilst they're doing them. Sure, one moment they could be cognizant that they're driving a car, but the very next moment they could be convinced that they're on safari or at a burlesque show. The mind wanders. They get CVAs. The O.F.S. would pierce through their consciousness at all times with the unmistakable message: YOU ARE DRIVING A CAR. FO-CUS.

Because, let's face it: this is America. You can't take away a toothless hick's right to own a gun, you can't make nicotine-addicted blowhole necks stop smoking cigarettes, and you sure as shit can't stop guys from Altoona from fornicating with their sisters, so, in spite of all the research about brain atrophy and delayed motor responses, you're not going to take the keys to the Oldsmobile away from Cloris or Gaylord, so we might as well do all we can do to throw the rest of us a fucking bone, so we don't end up as the hood ornament on some old daddy Caddy.

Who's with me?

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