The nurse says its been a busy day. We are the third set of "ambulance drivers" she has had to call this morning. I let the ambulance driver remark pass.
The seventy-year old woman in the room looks frightened. She does not want to go to the hospital. The nurse says she has been pale, and her pressure is low. She is not herself.
"How are you?" I ask.
"Awright," she says, tentatively.
She has a Jamaican accent.
"Let me ask you one question. Are you a country girl or a town girl?"
"I am a Jamaican girl. I come from the town."
"That's right." She smiles now.
"I knew it," I say. There is a special twinkle to the town girls from Kingston."
The nurses aides, who are also Jamiacan, giggle.
I tell the woman my name and that we are going to be taking her to the hospital.
"Awright," she says. "I guess if you think so."
When I put her on the monitor, her heart is going at 160. I check the paperwork. She has no prior history of tachycardia.
"I'm going to fix you up now," I say. "I've got some medicine I am going to give you into your veins."
She watches as I mix, drawn up the Cardizem, then slowly push the Cardizem in the IV port.
Soon her heart rate is down to 70.
"How do you feel?"
"A bit better," she says.
"Now hold still while I take a picture of your heart."
"A picture of my heart?"
"That's right. It looks good."
Later, I stop by to see her. Her daughter sits with her. Her daughter says, "My mother has been asking about you. She is much better. She said she like the tall man who take care of her, and hope you come by."
I smile back and approach the old woman. "How are you doing now?"
"Better," she says. "I'm doing fine now."
We do a pnemmonia, then a call for shortness of breath.
Our last call is a transfer. An eighty-seven year old woman is being discharged from the hospital folloing a bout of pnemonia.
"The ambulance drivers are here," the nurse announces as she leads us into the room. "Time for you to go home."
I introduce myself by name to the patient. "I will be your chauffer this afternoon, and this is my partner, Greg, who will be your escort, while I drive."
She is a tiny woman with a wrinkled face amd a funny cartoon voice. She looks like an eighty-seven year old Olive Oyle from Popeye.
"Are you going to take that out?" she says to the nurse, who flushes her G-tube. "I don't want it. Take it out."
"You have to talk to your doctor about that."
"Take it out."
"I can't. Your doctor wants it in."
She looks at us. "How about you. Do you know how to operate?"
"We do know how to operate," I say, "But that's not the kind of operating we do."
The nurse says to the patient, "Yeah, they think they're smooth operators."
"That's right." I sing, "We're smooth op-era-toors."
"Smooth oper-aaa-tooors," my partner chimes in.
"Take it out," she says. "I don't want the tubes anymore."
"They're going to take you to your daughter's house," the nurse says.
"No tubes," she says.
"We're going to put you on our stretcher," my partner says.
"Then, I'm going to give you a smooth ride to your daughter's," I say, "Because I'm a smooth oper-aa-toor."
"Smoooth Operaa-toor," my partner sings.
"You guys are all right," the nurse says, laughing.
At the house there are three generations at the house, a daughter, granddaughter, and two great granddaughters who are eating cherry popsciles. We can't get the stretcher into the bedroom. "I'll just pick her up and carry her in," I say.
"Are you sure? She's not as light as she looks," the daughter says.
But I pick her up easy and carry her into the bedroom. "Light as a ballerina," I say.
"How about that, grandma," the granddaughter says, "I bet you didn't think you'd have a man carrying you across the threshold and laying you into your bed."
The old woman laughs. "I knew he could operate. She smiles at me, eyes twinkling.
As we drive away, my partner says, "I'm going to be singing that song all day."
"Smoooth Oper-aa-toor," I sing.
"Smooth Oper-aa-toor," he sings.
"We're smooooth oper-aa-toors."
I used to hate being called an ambulance driver. Now I don't care. The job is the job. And I like doing it.
Besides smooth operators go with the flow.