In this life, humor is where you find it. When you spend enough time working closely with the same person, it can come at the strangest moments.
Long Lost Sister and I respond to the nondescript industrial building. A Basic Life Support ambulance has responded ahead of us for the worker fallen down a full flight of stairs.
It’s 5:00 A.M. We’re on the tail end of a long shift and feeling a bit punchy. The BLS crew meets us at the door with the patient neatly immobilized, packaged, and ready to travel. She lost consciousness, either before or after the fall. Now she’s confused, or maybe not. We can’t tell, as she speaks no English and we speak about 12 words of Spanish, combined.
LLS and I both stay with the patient, making one of the EMTs drive. We’re still not sure exactly what we are dealing with. Did she pass out for a medical reason and fall down the stairs, or did she fall down the stairs and sustain a head injury? No one knows.
LLS asks about the type of work she does, looking for clues. “It’s a meat packing plant,” I respond. “They make sausages.”
Something about that strikes LLS as funny. She begins to giggle and snort. “You work with sausages?!” she asks the patient, who doesn’t understand. It’s contagious, and now I’m trying to maintain professional decorum myself. I succeed, but barely.
The patient begins to strain and squirm against the straps immobilizing her. She could exacerbate her injury, and I strive to remember the espanol for ‘please don’t move.’ The best I can muster is ‘please sit down,’ which I don’t use for fear of causing more confusion. We settle for ‘shhh’ and a gentle touch.
As we turn into the hospital parking lot, LLS looks up at me, mumbles “Sausages!” and dissolves into another fit of schoolgirl giggling.
Preceptor/Partner and I have driven the highway between Local Community Hospital and Big City Trauma Center more times than we can count. We know every pothole and curve by heart. If it weren’t for the traffic, I think I could make the run with my eyes closed.
Midway between LCH and BCTC there is a large liquor store with a scrolling sign. It usually advertises the latest deal on wine, or perhaps rum.
Late one summer night, as we pass the store the sign briefly flashes **ICE COLD BEER**. It sounds good, but of course we’re on duty. I point it out to P/P in the back, but the sign moves on to other things before he can look out the window.
This happens repeatedly over the next few weeks. P/P, who would love an ice cold beer, never sees it. He begins to believe I’m pulling his leg.
Then it happens. We are returning from BCTC one evening, and P/P is on the phone with his wife as we round the corner. There it is! We both scream “ICE COLD BEER!” at the top of our lungs. We are left trying to explain the joke to his wife, and we have a good laugh to last the rest of the shift.
To this day, the phrases “You work with sausages?”, “ICE COLD BEER!”, or “You got some splainin’ to do!” if uttered in the proper tone of voice, will cause LLS, P/P, or Patrick respectively to dissolve in fits of laughter.