Thursday, February 03, 2011
internal monologue of the not-quite-good samaritan
There are two left turn lanes off the exit of the highway that I take to work. Usually I get to work so early that traffic of any kind is not a problem, especially on the local roads, but this morning, there seemed to be an awful lot of brake lights and lane changing on this one short span. I was in the right lane, everyone ahead of me seemed to be changing into the left lane to bypass something that was apparently obstructing traffic up ahead. As I got closer, I saw that there was actually a stopped car up ahead. A car that was braked at the intersection, not moving despite the fact that the light was green.
Because of my position in the line, I pulled up right alongside the car. I figured it was probably some kind of breakdown or engine problems, thought I thought it was odd that the car would be stopped in traffic without any hazard light turned on. But there was a guy inside the car, alone, sitting in the driver's seat. He was sitting up, leaning up against the back of the seat with his eyes closed, and he wasn't moving.
First thing I thought was, cardiac arrest. I craned my neck more. Was he breathing? Hard to say. He definitely wasn't moving in any way that I could make out through my car window. He didn't looked slumped over or anything obviously ominous, but who falls asleep at an intersection, for chrissake? So clearly, he was dead.
I should get out and see if he's OK.
Well obviously he's not OK, just look at him.
He had an MI. No, wait, he had a stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke. No, wait, a ruptured aneurysm.
Could he be sleeping? Who falls asleep off the exit of a highway?
OK, I've got to get out there. Ew, I don't want to touch a dead person. I don't want to do CPR on a dead person. I don't even have any gloves.
Get a grip, woman, you're a doctor.
But...ew, dead people.
I have to go out there. Is that safe? Am I going to get hit by another car? What's going to happen to my car? Now both lanes of traffic will be blocked. People are going to be mad. There's going to be honking. I hate honking. Why do they honk so much here?
OK, I've got to go see if he's OK. Shit, I'm going to be late for work. What cases do I have this morning? I have to start that CABG, don't I? Oh, and I have that shoulder replacement too, now I'm not going to have time to block that patient before we go back. I have to call the OR front desk. I hate being late for work.
But who cares if you're a little late for work, there's a dead guy there! Anyway, we're right around the corner from the hospital. You'll just get in his car, drive him over to the ER...wait, what if I don't know how to drive his car? What if it's a stick shift? I should call 911. Yes, 911. That's what people do.
JUST GET OUT THERE AND CHECK ON HIM, ASSHOLE.
I put the car in park. Just as I was reaching for my door handle, the guy in the other car, apparently not dead, opened his eyes and drove off. So I would like to say that I was in the process of doing the right thing, but honestly, since he never gave me the chance, I'm not so sure.