-Hello! Hey! Jesus Christ, what does a guy gotta do to take a piss around here?
-Yes, sir. Sorry about that. Just a busy day in the ER. Can’t get around quick enough.
-Busy day my ass. I practically pissed my pants over here. This damn prostate, I gotta piss every five minutes. Help me out, will ya?
-No problem, sir. Let me grab a urinal and we’ll get you taken care of.
-Help me up here. I’m a little wobbly. Been on this damn cart for hours.
-I got you. Just grab the urinal and I’ll support you while you pee so you don’t fall.
-Jesus I gotta piss. You got me? I’m 80-years-old, don’t wanna fall and break a hip pissing.
-I got you, sir. Just go ahead and pee.
-Alright…. Alright…. Here we go.
-I got you, sir.
-You a sports guy?
-Yeah I am.
-How bout those Bears, huh?
-What is it with Cutler, huh? Two beautiful TDs and then he’s giving the ball away like it’s Christmas.
-And how about Conte?
-Conte? Conte? Don’t even get me started. Can’t the guy ever make a fucking tackle?
-I mean, he’s out there trying to play patty cake with a tank of a man and he gets stuffed, twice! You’re a safety for shit’s sake, you get paid to make the tough tackles. Get low, put a fucking shoulder in like a man.
-You remember the game against the Packers last year?
-You trying to give me a heart attack? Of course I remember that game. He’s a no good bum!
-I don’t like for anyone to lose there job, but I’m sure he’ll be gone next year.
-Hey, kid, you don’t do your job, you lose your job. That’s the way it is. He’s a pro, he knows what he has to do.
-I guess you’re right.
-I’m all done here. Take the urinal and help me back onto the cart.
-I got you, sir.
-Take it easy, huh? I’m old as shit.
-No problem. Here you go. Sorry again about the wait.
-You’re alright, kid. Now get back to work. Don’t be a bum like Conte.
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-Good afternoon, sir.
-Why are you here today, sir?
-I’m feeling dizzy and I think I blacked out.
-Alright, sir, I’m going to need you to change into this gown so the doctor can examine you.
-Alright, not a problem.
-Thank you, sir.
-You a military man? You look like a military man. Sound like a military man.
-No, sir, I’m not.
-You sure? You look like a Marine? You a Marine, son?
-No, sir. I’m not brave enough… Can we get you in this gown so the doc can examine you?
-Sure thing, son…. You know, I’m a Marine.
-Served in the Nam. I’m a God damn patriot, son.
-Thank you for your service, sir.
-You’re God damn welcome.
-Do you like being a Marine? Must be exciting.
-Son, you show me someone who likes being a Marine and I’ll show you a God damned liar. Being a Marine is something you do, not something you like.
- I have a buddy who is a Marine. He served in Iraq. He swears it was the best part of his life, being out there in battle.
-He’s a fucking fool, then. And he doesn’t know any better. Yeah, basic is good, three meals a day, warm showers, a rack to sleep in, but war–being a Marine in the field and humping all day, eating out of a bag, shitting in hole, being shot at–is shit. It really fucks you up, son.
-Sounds like a shit storm, sir. Thank you, again, for your service, sir.
-It was my duty…. You’re sure you’re not a Marine, son? You look like a military man….
-I’m not brave enough.
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I like riding Chicago’s CTA trains, especially the “L”. Been doing it all my life. There’s something about rocking back and forth on a set of old rickety train tracks at speeds of up to 50 mph that’s kind of fun.
It sure as hell gets me pumped. And let’s not forget the characters you come across when you ride the train system.
A few nights ago I decided to ride the Red Line to this thing I had to do.
I’m sitting on the platform at the Granville stop listening to some music to pass the time.
Train rolls up, I get on and find a seat.
At the next stop the doors open and this old, scruffy looking white guy walks in and sits down on the seat next to me.
I scoot over to give him some space and keep on listening to my music, when I hear a muffled: “Hey, man.”
I pop my right earbud out and turn to him and say: “What?”
“Hey, man,” he says as he pulls out a joint from his coat pocket. “You wanna hit this?”
“No, I’m good, bro,” I say. “Besides, I’m pretty sure you can’t smoke on the train.”
“What the fuck? When did that start?”
“Well weed? Probably since forever, but tobacco, probably a couple decades.”
“That’s bull shit, man,” he says as he shoves the joint back in his pocket.
I pop my earbud back into my ear and keep on listening to my music.
A few minutes go by and the old, scruffy white man keeps quiet.
Then, again, a muffled: “Hey, man.”
“What?” I say as I pop the earbud back out.
“You ever wonder what direction this train is heading in?”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“I mean, it can be conducted from both sides, so, are we headed forwards or backwards, man?”
“We’re headed south. That’s where we’re headed. And if we were headed the other way, we’d be going north.”
“Shit, man. That’s crazy.”
“It’s not crazy. You can go north, south, east or west on these trains. Forwards or backwards is irrelevant.”
“That’s some crazy shit, man. Did you go to college or something? You’re a smart dude.”
“Yes, but that has nothing to do with it….”
Frustrated, I pop my earbud back in and try to ignore the guy as best I could, hoping that he wouldn’t bother me again.
After a few more stops: “Hey, man.”
“Bro, what the fuck?” I snap as I pop my earbud out for the last time.
“Whoa, whoa, man. I don’t like your negative energy. I’m just going to have to find my self another seat in this car where the vibes aren’t so dark. I just wanted to see if you wanted to hit this joint.”
“I told you no and that you can’t smoke on the train.”
“Well here I thought you were a really cool dude with your “north and south” talk but it turns out you’re a douche.”
He gets up, walks to the other side of the train where he begins the same routine with another passenger.
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I never liked cops when I was younger.
I endured a lot of harassment–being stopped and frisked, talked down to, roughed up–treatment you learn to accept as normal growing up in the city.
It soured me at a young age and some of the things I saw or experienced quickly made me lose respect for the badge.
Was I innocent all the time? No. I also wasn’t a gang banger/criminal. I was just a kid doing stupid kid shit.
Out of all my negative encounters, there is only one that doesn’t fall under a bad or good experience–it’s, well, just a weird one.
I was hanging out on a corner with some friends on the west side one night, drinking forties (I admit, stupid kid shit) at around 3 a.m. when an unmarked narc cruiser rolled up.
Two cops jumped out and approached us.
Knowing the drill, we put our forties down and put our hands up in the air.
“Turn the fuck around and put your hands on the wall, assholes,” the tall cop said.
“On the wall,” the short one followed.
“Officers we’re just out here hanging and drinking,” my buddy said as the short cop shoved him into the wall. “Damn, is that even necessary?”
“Shut the fuck up, Tyrone,” the short cop said as he patted him down. “You fuckers carrying?”
The tall one threw his forearm into the back of my neck, pinning my face against the wall.
“How ’bout you, Paco?” He said. “Got any shit on you?”
“We’re just drinking beer, officer,” I said as he searched me. “Damn we don’t have anything on us.”
They searched my two remaining buddies and sat us all in a row on the curb with our hands behind our heads. And since they didn’t find anything to bring us in on, other than under age drinking, which is not worth the paperwork, they chose another, more bizarre punishment.
“You motherfuckers are out here drinking in the middle of the night, looking to get shot by some other assholes,” the tall one said. “Then we got to come in and work a crime scene with four dead assholes that can’t drink at home like the rest of world?”
None of us said anything. We knew better. They were ass out with nothing on us but they still wanted to screw us over.
“Well I’ll show you motherfuckers,” the tall one said.
“Yeah, we’ll show you,” the short one followed.
The tall one walked over to the wall where our forties were and grabbed all four of them and placed them in a diamond shape in the middle of the street.
The short one disappeared behind the cruiser and returned with a bowling ball, which he handed to the tall one.
“You want to be out here drinking in the middle of the night,” the tall one screamed. “Well here you go.”
He reached back and with a PBA bowler’s perfect form, rolled the ball down the street, knocking all four of the forties down in a strike.
“Yeah, motherfuckers!” the short cop screamed as he fist bumped the tall one.
“Stay the fuck off my streets, bitches!” the tall one screamed as they both jumped in the cruiser and drove away.
We all sat on the curb, our hands still behind our heads for a minute or so.
“Those dudes are crazy,” my buddy finally said as he got up and went out into the street to recover our forties.
“Did they just bowl our forties down?” I asked in disbelief of what we had just experienced. “And where did the short one get the bowling ball from?”
“Yeah they did,” my other buddy said. “And who cares? Cause they didn’t break them. Cheers, brothers.”
“To crazy ass cops,” I said.
“To crazy ass cops!”
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-Let me help you out to the car, Mrs. Schwartz. Have a seat in this wheelchair.
-That is not necessary. I might be old but I am not frail.
-I know, but it’s hospital policy. I have to wheel you out.
-Well if you must. Thank you, young man. My girl should be around with the car shortly.
-Alright, we’ll just wait for her by the ambulance entrance.
-That will be fine, thank you.
-So what’s the plan for the rest of your afternoon? It’s a beautiful day out today.
-We are headed to the movie house to watch a film.
-Sounds like fun.
-I’m here till late. Got a long day ahead of me.
-Do you like Obama?
-Uh, I guess he’s alright.
-Cause they are going to peach him.
-I think you mean impeach, Mrs. Schwartz.
-What did I say?
-You said peach.
-No I did not.
-Ok, never mind. Who is?
-Because he does not do his job, which, I cannot understand why he does not.
-I take it you’re a republican?
-Yes. I am a republican.
-Well, do you like Obama?
-Oh, yes. He seems like a nice man. Very sincere. But you never answered my question. Do you like him?
-I guess. I’m not really a fan of most politicians, but I don’t think he’s a bad guy.
-I see. But do you know what else he is going to do?
-Do you know all those immigrant children? He is going to let all the immigrant children stay.
-Where in the hell is he going to put all of those immigrant children?
-Well, Mrs. Schwartz, I don’t think he has to put them anywhere. They’re already here. Some folks just want them to stay cause they grew up here.
-Well they are going to peach him for that, for sure. Do you remember the last president they peached?
-I was very young, but yes, I do.
-That rotten Clinton. He refused to do his job either. Chasing women and lying was his idea of what being the president was.
-Again, I was young, but I think the impeachment didn’t work out. The Senate cleared him and he finished his term.
-I am pretty sure you are wrong, and they will peach Obama. You mark my words.
-There is my girl now. I will be fine from here. Thank you, young man.
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-Hey, New Kid, you got a minute?
-Yeah, Frank. Whatcha need?
-I just need help with this guy in room 19.
-You got it, Frank.
-Great, grab some patient labels off the counter there for this guy and come on in. It’ll only take a minute.
-Ok….Why are all the lights off?
-Cause we do that sometimes for the families.
-Hold on, I need to grab a bag out of the closet….
-A bag for what, Frank?
-For the patient, dummy. You get those labels?
-Yeah, Frank. Here you go.
-Let’s see…. One for the belongings, one for the outside of the bag and one for the toe. Alright, we’re set.
-Hey, New Kid, you wanna learn something, or what? Stop with all the questions and pull that sheet off the patient. I’m trying to teach you the job.
-Alright, alright. It’s just that… Oh, fuck. It’s a dead body.
-Of course it’s a dead body. The patient died an hour ago. Where the fuck were you when the radio nurse screamed out “arrest” and all the loud alarms were dinging and a dozen people were screaming shit back-and-forth, like, he doesn’t have a pulse?
-I don’t know. In another room. I’ve never seen a dead body before.
-Hey, sit the fuck down before you pass out. You look like shit.
-I’m fine. No, I’m good. Let’s do this, Frank.
-For fuck’s sake, New Kid. They’ll just hire any bastard that watched a medical TV show and thought it’d be cool to work in an ER, won’t they?
-I’m sorry, Frank. Seriously, I’m good.
-You pass out, or throw up, or piss your pants and you won’t get no sympathy, we’ll just send your sorry ass out on the floor all pissy and vomity to finish up your shift.
-I’m good. Really.
-Alright, roll the body to your side. But cover the mouth with this towel cause shit tends to come out and you don’t want it all over your scrubs or shoes.
-I’ll slide the bag under and we’ll flip the patient to my side and you can pull the bag under to your side.
-Keep your shit together, New Kid. It’s just a dead body.
-I’ve never seen a dead body, I’ve never touched a dead body….
-We’ll guess what, today you get to do both. Now flip the guy to your side. I wanna get this over with so I can go eat lunch.
-Alright, here I go.
-There, was that so difficult? It’s like touching any other human being, only a dead one.
-I feel sick to my stomach…. Oh God did it just move?
-Yes, asshole, cause you just moved it. Bodies tend to shift when you move them. For fuck’s sake….
-I’m sorry, Frank.
-Now I’ll flip him my way and unroll the bag under him, we tag him, zip it up and we’re done. There you go.
-Sorry I got all squeamish on you, Frank. And thanks for taking the time to teach me the job.
-Don’t worry about it, New Kid. We’ve all been there.
-So were you just like me when you started the job?
-Fuck no, are you kidding me? I wasn’t half the chump you are. You looked like you were ready to pass out. And you’re no where as good looking as me, so no, New Kid, we’re nothing alike.
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-Where you headed?
–I finna go over by Mike’s and them house over there right off the Jarvis stop.
-What you gonna do over there?
-Can I come with?
–You know damn well Mike and them don’t fuck with yo dumb ass.
-Well fuck ‘em anyway. I’m on my own shit.
–Yeah? What you finna do?
-I got me this here pint of Cognac and a fresh pack of Newports. I’m going to the crib and get it right tonight, baby.
–You got you some Newports and some yak?
-Best believe I do, baby.
–Can I get a square off you then?
-Nope, can’t even do it. But I’ll sell you one for 75 cent.
–See, that’s why nobody wanna fuck with yo ass. You too god damn cheap.
-I tell you what. Why don’t you come over the crib and you can get more than a square. You can get some of this bottle and a little bit of some break you off right delight.
–Fool, you done lost your damn mind? Ain’t all the Newports or yak in the world gonna make me go home with you.
-I’ll treat you right, baby.
–You’ll treat me dead. I’d have to kill myself if I ever laid down with yo scrawny, dirty, no front teeth having, ass.
-It’s all the same to me, baby. I’mma get mines with or with out you. This my stop. See ya later, baby.
- Last chance, baby. We can… Turn off the lights, and light a candle. Tonight I’m in a romantic mood….
–Boy, take yo dumb ass on.
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