My day started off with a slightly unusual call: I was sent to the aid of a young man with penile pain associated with a probable STD. Outstanding. As a heterosexual female, I have no interest in penises infected with sexually transmitted diseases, but when duty calls, I must answer, and I try to do so with grace and respect. The patient was probably not hoping to have a discussion about his penile discharge with a twenty-something year old blond female, but I honestly have no idea what goes through the minds of people who call 911 for these things. After all, the ghetto is an amazing place with a totally different definition of emergency than the rest of the world, regardless of the vehicle parked in the driveway. He had no reservations about speaking freely to me of his affliction, and after a brief consideration of making the new guy in training on our truck take a peek, I decided to wholeheartedly trust the patient’s description of his junk. Simply put, I didn’t want to look.
The patient politely asked if his “little brother” could accompany him to the hospital. I took a look at the individual, appropriately outfitted in an incredibly oversized shirt, sagging jean shorts, and an impressive swagger. He appeared to be a young teenager, and I immediately decided he was harmless. Perhaps this young one would learn a valuable lesson on the importance of the use of prophylactics. “Sure, but he’ll have to ride in the front and wear his seatbelt.” My crew and I took them both to the hospital, where the staff and I shared a laugh at the absurdity of the “emergent” situation. The day prior, I treated a man having a heart attack and a woman experiencing ventricular tachycardia, both of whom I decided would be just fine by ghetto standards.
While driving the ambulance to the hospital during the next call of the day, I was singing along to the radio, and I realized the passenger seat visor looked unusually empty. The universal garage door opener was present, but the spot where I typically clip my iPod was empty. I replayed the events of the day in my head: I came to work, be-bopped around the wash bay, and checked off the ambulance equipment listening to my “Happy” playlist. None of this was unusual. My partner, Vigilante Medic, is accustomed to finding me in the box of the ambulance shaking my thang or occasionally rocking the air guitar. I’m fairly certain he’s never seen me use the laryngoscope as a microphone, but I do tend to keep that show strictly between myself and my imaginary fans. I distinctly remembered standing on the running board of the ambulance, wrapping my headphones around the iPod, and clipping it to the passenger visor.
Upon arrival to the hospital, I immediately asked Vigilante Medic if he moved my iPod. He’s always looking out for me, I trust him completely, and it isn’t offensive or peculiar for him to get into my personal items. He told me he made sure my book bag was zipped and my Kindle (I’m a woman utterly dependent on technology) was put away before anyone entered the ambulance, but he didn’t think to look for my iPod. I scoured the ambulance, finding remnants of crews past and our belongings, but no sign of my iPod. If Vigilante Medic did not move my iPod, only one person was capable of taking it. I was enveloped in emotions of fury, horror, and personal violation, but the only thing that escaped my lips was, “That little ghetto fucker!” I personally gave this premature hoodlum permission to ride in the cab of my ambulance, which is my safe haven for 12 hour shifts, and he stole from me.
I called the hospital to which I took Penis Guy, and they told me he had been discharged with ample time to leave the premises. I called my supervisor, who has always been a wealth of wisdom, and he gave me his condolences and advised me to make a police report. I then called our communications department, who connected me to the non-emergency police line (we may be county funded, but we’re not strictly ghetto). The police department offered to send an officer to the hospital to take my report, but I declined, knowing first hand that with a growing murder rate and gang activity, our vice division has much better things to do than fuss over my stolen iPod. I had no proof that Penis Guy’s “little brother” stole from me, but I had more than reasonable suspicion. I was told I’d be contacted within ten days. Vigilante Medic found me at the ambulance with a furrowed brow and a pouting, quivering bottom lip.
Incidentally, this is not my first encounter with iPod thievery. My last iPod was stolen from my personal vehicle at my former apartment complex. I responded with a passive-aggressive note stating:
Dear Douchebag That Stole My iPod,
I hope you choke.
Apparently, the letter I wrote, made 200 copies of, and distributed happily at that apartment complex was not well received given the response I got accusing me of threats. I moved within a week.
Vigilante Medic proposed an alternate route entirely, “If it were my iPod, I would show up with my biker friends tomorrow, and take back what’s mine.” We knew precisely where the hoodlum in question was picked up, and it was a fathomable assumption he would be there tomorrow. I tried to picture showing up in the ‘hood the next day, me leading a posse of my girlfriends each weighing in less than 140 pounds with an affinity for reading. I saw myself at the head of a group of Caucasian girls decked out in glitter shrieking, “If you don’t give me back my iPod, we’ll squeal in very high pitched tones, asshole!” We may look cute in proper lighting, but I don’t think vigilante justice suits us. I’m pretty sure I’d just injure myself if I tried to wield a gun, considering sometimes I fall down attempting to step out of the ambulance. I couldn’t conjure up a single scenario in which a situation of this caliber concluded in my favor. I’m more of the passive-aggressive letter writing type.
Inspired by the situation at hand, Vigilante Medic inquired our supervisor of potential legality issues, then called the communication department requesting a trip back to the ghetto. Communication informed him that the area was covered, but managed to assign us to the area anyway, putting an end in my mind to the age old idea that our dispatchers “aren’t looking out for us.”
I drove straight to the house where Penis Guy lives, in front of which Vigilante Medic, New Guy, and I strode out of the ambulance on a mission. We probably looked more like two dudes in uniforms with a chick looking around as if her head is on a swivel stick thinking, “Are we going to get shot today?” We were met by the father of Penis Guy, who informed us that the perpetrator was not his son, but he would be more than willing to assist us in locating him. At this point, I let Vigilante Medic do all the talking; I was stuck in the mode of thinking is the scene safe? I had one hand prepared to hit the emergency button on my radio and was constantly scanning the area for a potential gunmen or hoodlum wielding a knife. This was not an answer to a 911 call, I was completely out of my element, and I was scared.
Penis Guy’s father enlisted the help of Penis Guy, who was suddenly furious and quickly gaining my respect. Penis Guy told us he saw that exact iPod, my stolen iPod, and dialed into a cordless phone. He spoke into the telephone in a manner of incredulousness, anger, and exasperation that made me think I had judged his intellect and morality completely inaccurately. He demanded that my iPod be returned immediately, informed us of the whereabouts of the thief, and told us that it would be returned without delay or struggle.
I drove the ambulance to a gas station down the street, where we were
met by the prepubescent bandit. I saw him walking, and he was shorter and scrawnier than me. I’d barely noticed him on scene originally, but was now realizing the thug I’d built in my mind was far different from this diminutive creature. Finally, someone I can pick on. I approached him with an outstretched palm, and he reached into his right pocket, placed my iPod in my hand, and begun to walk off. I heard Vigilante Medic say, “That’s not good enough.”
The young thug turned and said, “Sorry” while looking at his feet.
I told him, “You need to look me in the eye and apologize.”
He looked up only with his eyes, “Sorry.”
“Do you understand the gravity of the situation? I was helping your friend, and you stole from me while I was doing that. I choose to have a job where I help people in distress, I don’t get paid much, and you stole directly from me. I made a police report and I’m not convinced I should call and cancel it.” I held the young crook’s gaze and tried not to lose faith in humanity. “Have you learned anything from this?”
“Yes,” he said to his feet again.
I turned and walked back to my ambulance muttering, “This little jerk hasn’t learned shit,” and thrilled that I’d regained an item I thought was indisputably lost forever. I pushed the appropriate buttons on the iPod and found that of all the angry music on my iPod, the perpetrator had been listening to, or trying to hock an iPod playing Adele. Seriously? He would have been more suited to tune into The Clash’s version of I Fought The Law and The Law Won, but in his case the lyrics would have had to been rearranged to the effect of “I Fought The Medics and The Medics won.”