Lately I’ve been taking the bus to work at night on account of the weather being absolutely horrible. Usually, this has been a pretty quiet ordeal featuring very little excitement and drama. Until today when it featured both excitement, drama, 112 calls (or 911, if you will), police, ambulances, delays and work place tours.. In no particular order.
If you weren’t amongst the readers lucky enough to tag along for at least some of the ride, you may be wondering what on earth happened.. And I’ll try to relate..
Everything actually went pretty smoothly at the beginning of the evening. Having finished my dinner and watched the news, I packed my stuff and headed out the door to catch a bus. And catch the bus I did, jumped on to it, punched my ticket and sat down on a vacant seat.. And that’s when things turned a little strange.. Or very strange, some might argue. Because I pretty quickly noticed that rather than doing what he usually does, which would involve shutting the doors, starting the engine and taking me towards my destination, the driver got off the bus and onto the sidewalk next to it. A peek through the window revealed him looking at a small figure sprawled out right there by the side of the bus.. Which got me up and moving as well, because people sprawled out motionless on the side of the road in mid winter is usually not a very good sign. So I put my ipod in my bag and bolted off the bus as well to see what was up and offer assistance if needed.. A pretty wise choice as it turned out.
I got out to find the bus driver bent over an obviously heavily intoxicated man in very poor shape who looked to have just collapsed and passed out in the middle of the street.. As if giving up, falling over and catching hypothermia had seemed the logical thing to do. The driver was obviously trying to establish contact with the poor soul which yielded very little result at first but was eventually met with a bit of incoherent mumblings in various languages, some spasms and a deranged combination of sobs and laughter.
Not really content, or the least bit reassured, with this rather disturbing answer to our attempts to communicate, the driver and I kinda looked at each other and went “this probably isn’t good.. We need this guy off the ground before he catches hypothermia.. And we need an ambulance now!” .. I mean, I’ve seen some pretty drunk guys in my lifetime, but this is the first time where I’ve had serious fears for someone’s well being. So, having tried one last time to get in touch with the guy, who was now at least somewhat awake, but still on the brink of consciousness and sanity, we went “Look.. Sorry.. But fuck it.. We have to get you off the ground.” Then grabbed him one under each arm and lifted him to his feet, after which we half supported, half dragged him to a bench in the near-by bus shelter where we sat him down. The driver then proceeded to try and keep him upright, conscious and talking while I phoned first the police, then 112.. Which was an experience in itself..
first decided to try the police because they’re usually the ones to handle cases of drunk and disorderly conduct and I thought emergency services sounded a little out of line now that the man was actually responding somewhat and in no immediate mortal peril. Upon phoning the police I was met with an automated greeting which pretty much informed me that if I was looking for a quick response, I’d be better off trying somewhere else. I was then met with a list of options, half of which were drowned out by the drunk in the background who was now howling unintelligibly. I then pressed 1 which I took to stand for personal assistance and after a brief wait was treated with a real person to talk to. I explained to him the nature of the situation after which he, in what I considered a pretty demeaning tone asked me to hang up and call 112 instead as he wasn’t sure what I thought he was supposed to do about the situation.. Okay, so much for that option.
I then did as told and tried 112 and was met with few runs of a rather tragic comic taped recording of “112 emergency services – Please hold!” followed by a human operator. I quickly informed the guy who I was, where I was and what the situation at hand was.. Which was met by a brief pause and an “So you need an ambulance?” to which I could only reply with a “Umm.. Yes, I’d suppose so..” and then again relayed the situation that I was standing with a heavily intoxicated person who was laying pretty lifelessly on the street and was now spewing nonsense in various languages as well as acting in a generally deranged manner.. I might even have added a “so you tell me.” – “And where were you again,” the operator asked. – “I’m at the bus station in Kolding,” I replied, thinking that would be sufficient information and not knowing the address. The operator, however, did demand an address and since I had no clue, I asked the gathering crowd for help and luckily someone was able to come up with a street name.. This, however, seemed to be not of much help to the operator who sounded as confused as ever.. Rather frustrated with the whole situation, I eventually spelled the name out for him, not so much out of spite as out of desperation and whether or not that did the trick, I don’t know. At any rate, he promised me that help was on the way, and so we hung up.
Some ten odd minutes had now transpired since I got on the bus and everybody were quite obviously running a lot behind schedule.. Realizing this, I told the driver to go about his business and that since I was the one who made the call, I’d get my stuff from the bus, keep an eye on the guy, wait for the ambulance to arrive and then catch the next bus. He seemed extremely thrilled with the proposal and so I went to get my stuff from the bus.
As I got back off, the driver told me that I could leave as well as I wanted because he’d found someone else to look after the guy. I did, however, not really like his suggestion for three specific reasons. One, I made an emergency call, I’m pretty sure it’s expected of you that you then hang around. Two, the person he had found was a slightly uncomfortable looking young woman. Three, said young woman looked at me kinda scared like and went “I only meant I wouldn’t be scared to stay around if you did” .. Which in itself was valid reason enough for me.. So I sent the driver off and then, along with my new-found female companion, went back to check on our new friend. Actually, I told her it was okay for her to leave as well, but she expressed the desire not to and was happy to offer whatever help she could, so who was I to argue.
We spent the next 20-odd minutes or so waiting for any sign of help to arrive and what a strange, pretty uncomfortable 20 minutes it was. We tried our best to keep the drunkard awake and talking which was both hard and not very pleasant. He generally seemed tinkering on the edge of some kind of alcohol psychosis and kept switching between laughing and sobbing, English and Danish, near-coherence and utter incoherence. He rambled on about himself, about the life he’d had, about the life he now had as a homeless, demons and darkness.. And other stuff as well.. All while switching between being surprisingly active and almost tumbling back over on the sidewalk.
After a long uncomfortable wait, we were relieved by the pretty simultaneous arrival of both a police cruiser and an ambulance.. Why both the police and an ambulance had decided to show up and why they did so at the same time, no one knew.. Not even the police or the paramedics.. Who seemed about as confused about the whole situation as I was. Which wasn’t really very reassuring, but really I was just relieved to be able to hand the whole situation over to someone more professional than myself and so I did and stepped back a few yards to let them do their work and wait for the next bus to arrive.
Something I pretty quickly got pretty tired of, so I decided to call Tina and see what she was up to and if maybe I could charm her into giving me a lift to work.. Which, of course wasn’t much of a problem as she’s always more than happy to help me and usually scolds me for not calling when I could need her help. Matter of factly, she told me she and Jeppe would be there within minutes but just needed to know if I was at the bus station by the railroad or the downtown city bus station. I told her that I was at the one by the railroad and to otherwise just look for the police cruiser and the ambulance and they wouldn’t be able to miss me.. Which prompted a bit of a “Wait? What?! What’d you get yourself into now??” reply, which I in turn countered with a “nothing too out of the ordinary.. For me at least.. I’m exhausted, I’ll explain when you get here!” A lot of people would probably have gotten upset over something like this and demanded an explanation, but it’s a pretty good testament to the bond and mutual understanding that Tina and I share that she just pretty much wordlessly accepted this statement and hung up.
Not five minutes later, Jeppe’s car pulled up a few meters away from the epicenter of the night’s events and I took off towards it, hugged Tina who’d gotten out and then jumped into the back and started explaining the situation as we drove off. Jeppe, obviously not used to the fucked up kinda predicaments I get myself into was wholly awestruck and impressed with the whole story. Tina, having heard a tale or two and participated in some herself, pretty much merely shrugged, shook her head and went “you’re the only person in the world who regularly get into messed up situations such as this on a regular Wednesday night.” – I wanted to disagree for the sake of disagreeing, but I really couldn’t.
Either way, Jeppe and Tina quickly took me out of the entire mess and on to my place of employment where I, in turn, treated them to a grand tour of where I work. Something I’d actually wanted to do for Tina for a while since she’s spent so much time driving me back and forth. And something I’ve wanted to do for Jeppe for about a week now since the first time he took me to work and expressed a genuine desire to “get a tour and see how things are done in a factory!” .. Of course both Tina and I have tried to explain to him that I don’t work in a factory, but he seemed so childishly enthusiastic about things that we just sorta gave up and went with it.. So a grand tour of the “factory” it was, but that’s another post.. Suffice to say is that they seemed to enjoy it, even if they were slightly hassled by my former boss, Tom, and that I quiet enjoyed getting to show them just what it is I do and what I’ve done and what we do in general.
After the grand tour, I sent them off with a big thank you and then, after only a couple of hours of interrupting weirdness, got on with the rest of the day according to plan.