Paramedics – 9 July 2013

Posted: July 9, 2013 in Dialog, Prose
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


09 July 2013

This morning when I neared Joy’s spot I saw a Paramedic Vehicle parked close to where she sits. I thought the worst, then I saw her feet sticking out from behind a concrete pillar. Joy said, “I feel so bad. That poor woman was one of my regulars. She was reaching in her purse for change when she tripped on that uneven sidewalk — I don’t know how many people have tripped there. Anyway, she fell face down with her arm across her chest.  Her knees were scraped, her hand was scraped and swollen. I jumped up and helped her, then I held her hand until the paramedics came.  She acted so surprised that I stayed with her.  I said,  ‘I’m human, I feel bad when somebody gets hurt.’ She said, ‘But you people…” I asked, ‘What do you mean, us people…street people… panhandlers? Just because people treat us like shit doesn’t mean we don’t  have feelings.’ At that point Joy’s eyes brimmed with tears.

“I think I freaked her out a bit. When I get nervous I start signing and scratching. I explained to her that I’m deaf in one ear and learned to sign when I was young. I don’t know what she thought of that.

“The paramedics arrived, checked her over and wanted to take her to hospital, but she refused to go. The van has been here for about an hour. I thought by now that the fat driver would have gotten out to get a donut at Timmy Ho’s, but he hasn’t moved. The woman is long gone. She’s gone to her office or somewhere.

I asked, “How are you feeling? It must have been upsetting for you.”

“I’m alright. They installed my land line and my cable. I still have to buy a phone. I didn’t know that Bell didn’t install their own phones, but the installer said that too many have been stolen. I guess I’ll try to get one at Giant Tiger, or someplace. I just want something really simple, but I want call display. I’m not sure I can get that at Giant Tiger. I want to know who’s calling. If I don’t know them I won’t answer. Having a television and a phone makes me feel scared for some reason. It makes me feel too human, most times I just want to hide away.”

I said, “You don’t have to answer the phone. Maybe, you can find a used answering machine somewhere.  I never answer the phone. You don’t have to watch the television. I watch very little. I never watch the news, it’s too depressing.”

“I guess it’s staying alone that I’m scared about.”

I asked, “Have you thought about Jake moving in with you?”

“No, not the way he smells. Even if he did clean himself up I’m not ready for a relationship.”

“How about having Loretta move in with you. She’s been sober for five months now. You seem to get along with her.”

“No, I’d kill her. I think I’m better off by myself. I’ve got my name down on a couple of different housing registries. I didn’t put down any restrictions as far as neighborhood is concerned. I just want someplace clean, with no bed bugs.

“I was over at Chester’s the other day. I checked his mattress. Beside the piping at the bottom, where that crease is, was black with bed bugs; big black ones. He said to me, ‘I don’t know where they come from.’ I said, ‘Did you ever think that they may come from the people who stay over. It just takes one bed bug to lay about a thousand eggs. I read up on them. I also had a friend whose husband was an exterminator. She told me all about them. They’re nasty.

“When I had them I put two in a sealed bottle and put it in the freezer. When my friend came over I showed her the bottle. They were still alive and crawling up the sides of the bottle. My friend said, ‘I’ve going to put these in my purse and show my husband.’ I said, ‘You’re going to put them in your purse just like that? I think you should double bag them. I gave her a couple of Ziploc bags to put the bottle in. When her husband saw them he said, ‘Get that bottle out of here! Put it outside somewhere! I don’t want it in the house!’ That’s from a guy who knows bed bugs.”

I said, “You can spray for them, can’t you?

“You spray the first time, wait two weeks, spray again, wait another two weeks then do a final spraying. If I was married to an exterminator I’d spray every week.

It was time for me to go to work.  I asked, “Are you going to be at the park at noon?”

“I don’t know. If nobody’s there when I go past, I think I’ll just go home.”

  1. kalabalu says:

    Bed bugs and much hated yet found in all the wrong places..getting squashed is the definite way to exit from life..yep I am talking about the insects.


  2. Jorge Luis Oyola says:

    I need help before I become the poster child in being hunted down like Robin Hood with my little girl name AnnaMaria.

    Can You please pass my link along to all your friends and co-workers I need help and I am running out of ideas in finding help……


    • dcardiff says:

      Hi Jorge, I have passed along your link to my friends on Twitter and Facebook. I Pray that someone will be able to help you and your daughter.



      • Jorge Luis Oyola says:

        Thanks I have been sending a new my resumes out maybe I can get a better chance.

        I have a few questions to ask you though
        call me 785.320.3655


  3. omtatjuan says:

    Dennis, Oakland California is your area on steroids. I work among some desperate souls and I’ve seen the results of drug addiction, alcohol and poverty on these streets. What can we do as individuals to help these souls? If I knew I’d do it…


  4. booguloo says:

    Shelters were full of them when I was homeless. Cardbox box and a good place off the beaten path worked for me.


  5. Thanks for the follow, Dennis. What incredible work you’re doing. How fulfilling it must be! Diana


    • dcardiff says:

      It is truly fulfilling. Two and a half years ago I was feeling lost, in a dead end job, wishing I could afford to retire. Then I met some homeless friends who had far less than I did, but they were happy. To this day I enjoy their company almost daily.

      I have just downloaded your book, “Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard”. From the synopsis, I would say you’ve had an incredible journey.

      Best wishes,


      • Hi Dennis, oh dear (to both paragraphs)….on the latter, I didn’t write Breaking Night. I know this will bring me 20,000 notches down in your book but clarify I must. I was just recommending the read for its inspiration. But actually, I HAVE indeed both enjoyed and endured an incredible journey — in terms of these words, I have to share that my post “Question of Human Suffering” under my Most Popular List on the margin will offer a glimpse of this truth. I, again, hate to disappoint…but now I can sleep at night LOL. I do appreciate your support. Will be back!!



      • I signed off with my name on the About. The book is by Liz M.


  6. Lone Trekker says:

    Economic crisis lately made a rise in such cases, I reckon! people are sleeping on street, alleys and inside cars which can be perilous!

    I just read annapurna base camp trekking


    • dcardiff says:

      It is indeed perilous sleeping outside. One is completely vulnerable to the weather and human intruders. Many homeless people die in the cold Canadian winters.

      My wife has visited Kathmandu, and a lawyer I work with has climbed many of the major peaks i the world. When not climbing mountains he runs up twenty-seven flights of stairs, twice, to keep in shape. He is in his sixties.



  7. The story touched me. I started to say it was sad but, on another level, it wasn’t. Thanks for posting. Thanks for visiting my blog.


  8. I really liked how you told the story with an introductory paragraph and dialogue. Great job.


    • dcardiff says:

      Thanks Laura, I suffer from BPD as well.



      • Yup, there can be a lot of suffering there. It’s wonderful that you share your light with the homeless and the street people. I was once a 16 year old panhandler myself. Now I do it in a bit more sophisticated way, through the disability system. I guess you’ve read a bit of my story, since I know you’ve been to my blog. Keep on keepin’ on, man.


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