- Politics and Social Issues
Medical Transport Driver - Temper Temper
The day I screamed at an old lady.
It had been snowing for the past few days but only lightly. The weather lady on channel six news promised today was going to be different. She said we were going to have a foot or more! This was very unusual in southern New Jersey, most pointedly in the past two decades. When I was a kid we used to get blizzards each winter but things had slowed down an awful lot. Now when we have snowfall everyone acts like they've never seen it before! The drivers range between the overly timid to the overaggresive and I do my best to stay somewhere in the middle.
My dispatcher assures me we wont have a full day as long as the snow keeps up at this pace. I was glad to hear it since nine bucks an hour and no benefits make me reluctant to put up with any more nonsense than is necessary. Today was going ot be one of those days.
Ms. Cohill was a little old Jewish lady with a goiter. She had been passed off to our company because she constantly complained about the other companies and their drivers. Fact was we were the only white owned medical transport company out fifteen in Camden county and Ms. Cohill had some issues.
Yep, that's right. She didn't like those people. You know, the African Americans. She had admitted this to me one afternoon when I asked why she wouldn.t respond when a gentleman was addressing her from the backseat. She responded, "I don't care about those people! I don't have to talk ot anyone!"
I was shocked. To so bluntly announce you are a racist is something I though reserved for the old heads, not little old ladies. After several months of transporting her she revealed it wasn't just blacks she didn't like. One day I had a blind Jewish Ex-Rabbi in the back seat and she treated him as rudely as anyone else. After he was dropped off she shook her head. "Who was that idiot?" She asked me.
I replied with a wide grin. "That's our resident Rabbi!"
It took a moment for it to sink in. When she realized what I said she asked me to repeat myself. She shrugged her shoulders and laughed. At this point I realized perhaps she is not a racist after all. Apparently she was just an everyday bad person.
None of the drivers liked. She treated all of us like we were her personal indentured servants. Me being the gentleman that i ma she had me going into the store for her on the way home if she needed milk or something minor. She had me stopping by at the bank so she could get change or cash for her change. No, I was definitely not supposed to do this. Yes, I had been told to say no.
When you tell Ms. Cohill no she turns on the most nasty sneer and lets you have it. I was raised to respect my elders and as a good catholic minded man I had a very hard time telling her no. I also had no response to her bitter retorts that wouldn't get me fired in a hurry. I was used to dealing with big mouths out on the mean streets of Paulsboro but bitter old Jewish ladies? I had no clue how to deal with this woman, so for quite a while she had me running in circles doing her bidding. It even got to the point where she would request me. What did I do to deserve this?
Ms Cohill would not change her appointment to a better day. She simply had to get there. The snow was coming down in blankets now and all of the drivers were heading in. All except for me, of course, because good old reliable, me, was waiting for the jewish satan to get done her appointment.
Now, before I go any further I want to remind you I have gone into the store for this woman on numerous occasions, walked her into and out of her appointments arm in arm, and always opened and shut the door for her upon getting in the vehicle. You may think this ordinary but no, she is not my damn grandmother, she is a client. As a livery driver we are told specifically not to get out of the car and not to help anyone. The service is for people who can get in and out of a car on their own and dont need any help. There were better paid services for that sort of thing.
We pulled up to her tower building after a plow truck had just left. The snow was piled up around the entrance circle in four foot walls. There were no parking spaces and there was only one cleared entrance for her to get in the building. I pulled up to it as close as I could get. So close the car was on the piles of snow, front and back fender. I got out only to find there was no way for me to get to her door. I contemplated leaping over the snow into the pile and drift but quickly thought better of it. I was not dressed for a winter hike.
I got back in the car and said, "I cant get around to your door so you're going to have to get out without me."
Ms. Cohill looked at me and sneered, held her nose up in the air and replied, "I'm not getting out here! You have to help me!"
I looked over her to the pavement ramp up to the area before the doors. It was clear of snow or ice and covered in a thick layer of salt or calcium. She was safe. After all this was a senior citizen complex they had to make sure the area was safe. I reached over her and threw open the door.
"I can't climb over you to get out so you are going to have to do this. the area is covered in salt..."
I couldn't get another word out as she began to berate me. "You are the worst!" She yelled. "What kind of person are you? Why can't you help me? This is the worst company I have ever drove with. The other drivers help me all the time! You are the lowest of the low..." Man she really laid into me and I could feel my incredulity turning into resentment.
No other company would take this woman. Her words were lies, empty and shallow. No other driver did for her what I had. She proved to me what sort of person she was at that moment. She was an ungrateful lout who didn't have an ounce of compassion or understanding in her bitter old heart. She was the epitomy of everything I reviled.
"After everything I have done for you?" I said incredulously.
She folded her arms and said, "I'm not getting out."
Behind my car a line was forming. A horn blew. My temper flared.
"Its safe! The damn pavement is covered in salt!" I cried.
"You're horrible! You are the worst human being in the entire world!" She was getting louder and more animated. My dispatcher was calling me to check on my progress and safety. I couldn't reply with all this shouting.
I lost it.
"Just get out! Get the F*** out now! I don't give a F*** what you think just get the F*** out!" I was shouting now. It was the voice I used to ensure greater numbers on the streets that they werent going to take me down without getting hurt in the process. It worked when I was a teen and it worked this time as well.
Aghast at my words Ms. Cohill suddenly got out of the car under her own power, took the required two steps over the salted cement and held onto the railing to look back at me with eyebrows raised and mouth open as she prepared to say something more. I decided, as I often have in the past, that now that I was in trouble I might as well make it worth my while. Before she could get a word out I shouted at the top of my lungs, "Fall, damnit! Just Fall!!!!"
My growling scream echoed under the overhang. Three elderly gentlemen looked our way with alarm. I pulled forward a foot and the door was shut by the pile of snow. I screamed from behind closed windows and doors, "Fall down, you b***h! Fall!"
I pulled out of there slowly but with my blood pumping fast and my hands clenching the wheel in a death grip. It had felt good letting go for once. I hold a lot back. I always have. Sometimes a person pushes me too far and all of that anger rushes forth. Temper-temper, I remember what my mother used to say. "Joey, what did Thumper's mother say?"
"She said that if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all." Yep, that's what she said alright. Thus I have been dubbed for my entire life a quiet person! Ha! If they only knew the truth behind these closed lips.
My dispatcher was very understanding and she knew better than most how capable I was at handling nonsense in the proper manner. I had to admit to her that I lost it and I explained why. Ms. Cohill had called and said the driver wouldn't help her out of the car and she was going to report us to the county. We were contractors and the county had ultimate power over us. As the only white owned company we were treated like the dogs of the county. We were the best and yet we had nepotism against us. Thankfully they had heard so many complaints coming from that woman they no longer paid her any heed. They tried to give her another service but before a year had passed she was back with us again.
She remembered we were the best when the other companies struggled to pick her up on time, let alone gettting her home from her Philadelphia appointments. When I picked her up again I remembered what thumper's mother said and kept my mouth closed. When she asked me, the balls on this lady, to do extra things for her like I had in the past I simply shook my head and said, "Nope, I don't have the time."
Its been almost two years now since my company discontinued their contract. I wonder now who the poor individual was that had to deal with her when we were gone. I feel for them but I sure don't feel for her. Karma is not just a passing ship in the night.
This is a just another factual tale about Barnsey's adventures in Medical Transport. Do with it what you will.
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- Medical Transport Driver; Part 2
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- Medical Transport Driver Part 3
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