Today is one of those days where I really need to be careful, otherwise the disjunction between what the public expects of us, and what we actually do will get me in trouble.
At the moment my body is feeling ready to give up, a troublesome changeover from night to day work doesn't help, neither does the sore throat or the feeling that my soul is still in Seattle waiting for a flight back to my body in London.
This means that the chances of me having a “sense of humour” failure are greater than normal.
I noticed it yesterday with my last job – I was called to a “60 year old male, collapsed in park”. Now there are of course many reasons why someone collapses in the park, and while I keep an open mind the chances are very high that it is alcohol related.
So I got there, and there was a concerned member of the public fussing over a drunk alcoholic. All power to him, he had spotted someone in distress, and was trying to help out as best he could, and I'd much rather have people like that compared to the calls we get of “Man laying in street, poss. dead. Caller cannot stay on scene”, which always seems to be a drunk.
The care I gave was the same as the care I would normally give, but I wasn't as “warm” as I normally am. I was polite, but there was something deep down in me that really couldn't be bothered with dealing with yet another alcoholic.
The ambulance turned up about a minute later, and took care of the patient – but I was aware that the bystander was probably not happy with my apparent lack of empathy.
This is that disjunction that I mentioned – the public expects us to be constantly caring people, dealing with what they see as a serious emergency – while to us it is a regular alcoholic, with very little newly wrong with them. And while we often hide our apathy behind our professionalism, it can sometimes slip.
It's that sort of job that will earn you a complaint from someone for being “not caring enough”.
The fact that I feel rough (through no fault of my own) might just mean that the mask of caring might slip – and while I have no problem with people who are actually ill – if I get the usual rubbish, I'll have to be very, very careful.
I might have to do a proper post on this when I'm feeling a bit better, as it's quite an important thing about our work.