Saturday, March 20, 2010

66 - 67

My kindergarten teacher was a nice old lady. When I was a cop I helped the medics carry her out of her apartment on an aided case one day. She said that she remembered me. It was twenty-five years after the fact but she remembered me. I wonder how that works, with teachers I mean. Are they all blessed with this indelible memory of every kid who sat amongst the sea of kids that a teacher must swim through in a decades long teaching career?

I'm pretty sure she really did remember me. I have an unusual name. A Scandinavian name. She was first generation Scandinavian. Same country even. Yeah, she really did remember but she never made it back to that little apartment. That was kind of sad. Cops firefighters and medics all deal with that sort of thing all the time. It's a lot different when it's someone you knew or had a connection to.

I knew this guy John. We hung out with the same crowd when we were teens. When I was a cop he ended up living just blocks from my station house. He actually lived upstairs from one of the cops I worked with. One day a neighbor in the building where he lived called nine-one-one. The neighbor said that she had not seen John in days. She knew John and she knew that was unusual. She was fairly certain he was in his apartment. My partner and I arrived and spoke to the cop we worked with who lived downstairs. I ended up going up the fire escape with that guy while my partner continued to pound on John's door in an attempt to contact him.

From the fire escape outside John's kitchen window we could see dozens of empty beer cans and hard liquor bottles strewn about the floor. We saw legs, John's legs in blue jeans and white running shoes laying across the doorway from the kitchen to the living room of the small one bedroom apartment. The double hung window was not locked. We slid it up and the off-duty cop I was with punched the screen to gain entry to the apartment while I called for medics to respond.

John was barely breathing. He was not responsive at all. My partner had retrieved the oxygen we carried in the trunk of the patrol car and hooked it up with a nasal cannula. He fit the cannula in John's nose and set the rate of flow at number two. All we could do was wait for the medics who did respond in very good time.

I knew John had a drinking problem prior to this incident. Another guy I worked with had charged him with DUI after an MVA that the officer witnessed himself. Thankfully no one was injured in that accident. I would see John at the bus stops at times. I would see John stumbling up the street. We gave John rides when we could. Just to get him off the street. He was never incoherent or unable to converse so transport to the hospital was never required. John had been through all the programs.

I called a couple of old friends who knew him as well. They were able to contact family. When I was done with my shift that day I changed in the locker room and responded to the hospital to see John. I was not family so I was not allowed to enter ICU to visit. I badged the nurses. I told them I was an old friend of John's. I told them I was one of the cops on the call. They said no family members were present. No one was with John. They let me in for a visit. He was still in a coma like state. I held his hand for a minute and talked to him. I left after a short time. I didn't want to get emotional. The two guys I had called went to visit him after I did. I talked to them on the phone about it. They reported the same. No family members present. John still in a coma.

John died a few days later.


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