So I got drop kicked out into the real world, and sent to DeGraff to work on a Paramedic truck. Y’all, I barely knew where Amherst was, I sure as hell didn’t know where Tonwanda was… BUT, my scheduler assured me my partner was cool and would help me out. Oh ok, I hope so, because I don’t know where I am. It started out well enough. Dude bought me coffee at the local coffee shop. He smoked a lot. I smoked a lot.
Then we got our first call. He drove to it. Pay attention Mel. Turn right, turn left, ok, down this street, that street, ok. We worked a little awkwardly on scene. I lifted fine, loaded the patient no sweat. Now it’s time to go back to the hospital. Radio transmission, check. Drive to the hospital. One correct turn, another correct turn, turned the wrong way, the back of the truck bellows at me. “YOU TURNED THE WRONG WAY!!” I cower and whimper. “GO DOWN ANOTHER BLOCK, TURN RIGHT, TURN LEFT, THEN TURN AT THE NEXT LIGHT AND THE HOSPITAL WILL BE ON YOU RIGHT!!!” I whimper again. We make it there without any further errors. I park and go to the back doors, pulling my gloves on, and open the back doors. A voice booms. “CLOSE THE DOORS!! I’LL OPEN THEM WHEN I’M READY TO COME OUT!!” I grow a set, stand back, glare at him and shut the doors abruptly.
Thirty seconds later he bursts out the back door, scowls at me, we unload the patient and go inside. We hand off the patient with no issue and I take the stretcher and remake it. He says nothing. I say nothing. We return to service. Maybe Dude’s having a bad day. He smokes. I smoke. We go have lunch. We take another call. He navigates me and we get there in one piece. I say thank you. He grunts. Call goes uneventfully and I handle patient care this time. He drives. He hits every blessed pothole in Erie County on the way back to DeGraff. Hand over patient. We get an emergency transport later in the day to the city. He throws a fit, then grills me on how to get there. I go through the route in my head and KNOW it, but he keeps confusing me with east and west on the 290. He starts yelling and I’ve got all I can do not to cry. We go get the patient and off we go, all wee-woo wee-woo, blinky-blinky flash-flash to the city with a critical patient.
Lo and behold Y’all. we make it the receiving hospital in one piece. He still bitched all the way back that I drove like his grandma. We got out 30 minutes late. I cried all the way home. I told my husband I wanted to quit and never go back. He told me to give it another day. I didn’t want to. I dialed 6 numbers twenty times to call Kent and quit. I didn’t want to go back ever again.
I never worked with that medic again. He scowled at me everytime he saw me for years. Then we crossed paths again when I was doing observation as a paramedic student in ambulance dispatch for the city of Buffalo. He had taken on a role as a dispatcher. He didn’t recognize me at first. But I knew him and I steered clear and killed him with kindness. It was about halfway through my observation that it dawned on him who I was. He apologized. He WAS having a bad day that day. He honestly didn’t think I would make it beyond a year, let alone become a paramedic. We talked for a long time that day.
He went on to become a nurse. But everytime I saw him after that day, he greeted me with a hug and kiss and invited me to tell EVERYONE about my first day of work. We still keep in loose contact via social media. We are both avid dog lovers. He holds a special place in my heart for helping me develop the thick skin I needed to survive twenty years in this profession. Thanks for that, Bill. I’m glad you had a bad day that day.