Once upon a time, in a land not far from here at all, there was a brand new EMT. So new, that he'd only been let loose on the public a matter of a month earlier. He was a nervous, quiet, shy character, not yet quite at ease with his new surroundings, but loving them nonetheless. He wanted to see everything, do everything, know everything, all in the quickest time possible, but for now was always happy that there was someone there wiser, more knowledgeable and more experienced than he to rely on.
One fine day, along with female crewmate, he was sent to an RTC. A lady had fallen off the back of a bus. 'Twas one of the olde worlde, London icon type Routemaster buses, with no door at the rear, and said lady jumped off whilst the vehicle was still in motion. "Stupid", I hear you chorus, with a "serves her right" to boot, but with these buses, jumping on and off at low speed was part of their charm. This time, however, she landed awkwardly and had hurt her arm.
She sat on a wall with her friend, cradling her arm, obviously in pain. As brand new EMT and partner approached the lady, a comment was passed between the patient and friend in a language other than English. A derogatory comment, even a racist one. Said EMT ignored seeing and hearing the comment, registered it and stored it in the back of his mind, and went about attempting to treat the patient. The middle of the patient's lower arm had a shape to it that even to a brand new EMT said "Broken". No question about that one.
Patient wouldn't, couldn't, or didn't make eye contact, and just said, in perfectly good English, "I can't come in your ambulance". Brand new EMT wasn't too shocked, and played dumb.
"If you'd rather be treated by my colleague, that is fine with me. I understand you might wish to be treated by a female".
"No, no. I just can't come in your ambulance".
"Well, if that's the case, I'll just inform our control that you are refusing our aid, despite the fact that you clearly need it. They won't send another ambulance, just because you don't like the look of this one!"
"Oh", she said, and jabbered away in her vernacular to her friend. Clearly they were discussing their next move.
Brand new EMT's patience was wearing a little thin, but he maintained his composure as he asked "Are you refusing to be treated because of who I'm not, or because of who I am? Because you can't choose the crew that get sent to help you!"
Ruse possibly rumbled, patient and friend eventually agreed that they would travel with us and even allowed the brand new EMT to treat the patient. He gave her some entonox to ease the pain, explained that despite the fact that he had not yet been allowed X-Ray glasses that he was fairly certain that the arm was broken, and placed the arm in a splint.
All the while they talked between them about the fact that they'd had to travel in an ambulance with this brand new EMT, how they wished they didn't, how they hated him and his type, and how they'd have to make sure that their friends and family didn't find out about who it was that treated and transported them.
And all the while the brand new EMT sat and with a blank look on his face. Well, wouldn't you if everything around you was in a foreign language?
As they all arrived at the hospital, the back doors opened, and brand new EMT asked the patient how she was feeling now, and if she was ready to leave the ambulance.
Asked, not in English, but in their own language. One which I can't speak fluently, but can understand to a great extent, and speak just enough.
Two faces fell and became instantly beet red, and the two voices became instantly silent.
My face just had on it a small, wry smile.
I could have been angry, furious even. I could have complained, reported them. I could have even refused to treat and transport them.
Instead, I was just glad to have been the bigger person, and have a trick up my sleeve that left me with the last laugh.