Not the credit crunch, but the sort of crunch you get when two large pieces of metal and plastic try to occupy the same place in the space/time continuum.
We are driving under blue lights to a 'male, not wearing any trousers' in the local shopping centre, my crewmate is behind the wheel and I'm nursing some sore wrists from our previous job*
It's snowing, but it's only just started to lay, unmelting, on the floor. It's dark, but we are lit up like a particularly obnoxious Christmas tree.
My crewmate slows to get us through a gap made by a car who has pulled over and a traffic island. I meanwhile am deep in my own thoughts.
I instantly know that someone has driven into the back of our ambulance, my head whips forward and then back – back into a hard bit of rubber secured above the back of my chair which seems to only have the purpose of being there to annoy the taller ambulance person.
There may have been swearing.
Immediately there appears a face at the driver's side window – we recognise it as one of our local police officers, a good one at that. He's off-duty and driving into work and he tells us that he's seen everything and is going to 'stick one on the other driver'.
I get out to hear him telling the driver of the other car that he's seen him following us down the road, tailgating us to get through the traffic and that he's going to be charged with 'driving with due care and attention'.
The driver's car is mashed, but there are no injuries. The ambulance doesn't have a scratch on it.
The officer has to get into work, but takes everyone's details, gives us his shoulder number and heads into work.
The other driver gives me his insurance details and drives off – despite me warning him that I don't think that his car is in any fit state to drive. Back in the cab of the ambulance I ask Control to let the police know that he's driven off in an unroadworthy car against my advice.
Then we have a slow crawl back to station to fill out the accident paperwork and take the vehicle off the road to be checked by the mechanics in the morning. Eventually our manager phones us to see if we are alright – it's implied that any sick time would result in being disciplined. She promises to get us another vehicle.
Another ambulance is driven down to us, one of the old LDV's**, we get in it to find that the heaters aren't working – at the request of Control we drive slowly through the snow to fill it up with fuel. Past the bendy buses that have jacknifed, past the cars unable to get over the flyovers. We creep through the night and fuel up – then creep back to the station.
At no point do the heaters work. I sit, curled up in my seat, trying to keep my legs warm.
By the time we get back to the station we have half an hour to the end of the shift, so we take the ambulance off the road to be fixed and watch the clock until we get to go home.
*More on this tomorrow – for some reason I'm telling these stories in reverse order.
**About which more later, oh yes, much, much more…