I have been a light-rail commuter for just under two weeks.
I don’t think I need to tell you that this has been ample time for me to deputize myself as an extension of the Metra Authority.
I’m pretty hands-off the day-to-day train-conducting tasks, of course, like pulling the forward-backward lever, punching tickets and mostly not killing pedestrians. I’m just here for when Metra needs a hero, much like Superman or the National Guard.*
*My apologies to the National Guard.
My ascent from passenger to undercover rail marshall was serendipitously expedited when one of my fellow passengers suffered a massive heart attack, and I attempted to save his life.
You know how it goes…
You’re on your way home from work, sitting on the top level of the double-decker train (like you always do, because the air at that elevation is much too thin to transmit Consumption and other diseases commonly spewed by the wretched coughing of the community proletariat).
….WHEN SUDDENLY, a teenage girl sitting several seats away and wearing a beret casually wonders aloud–without any hint of a French accent–whether “anyone has any first aid training, or something?”
At first, no one responds. I presume this is because no one expects to be conversationally alerted to a medical emergency.
Fortunately, I am always on alert for opportunities to secure a life-debt, so I read her loud and clear.
Peering over the seat in front of me, I see a middle-aged man, collapsed and unresponsive, in the aisle.
I. am. STOKED!
There’s no telling what I find so scintillating about mortal crisis. I can only image that my insatiable lust for power is indiscriminate of circumstance, and, if I can seize control only when everyone else is paralyzed by fear and indecision, then so be it.
Whatever the reason, I launch enthusiastically into full rescue mission mode, just like when I saved my brother, Tony, from that catastrophic Honda explosion.
I spring from my seat.
“IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE CAR?” I bellow. No one responds.
I know a thing or two about saving lives because my father is a dentist, so I accept their silence as confirmation that I am the most qualified medical professional on this train. ”There are AED’s at either exit,” I announce, while sprinting toward the stairwell.
I’m wearing high heels, but I will not be hindered by my impractical footwear and descend the steps to the lower level in a single bound, gripping the handrails like parallel bars and swinging, heels-first, into the aisle, below.
The other passengers remain motionless in their seats, as I barrel past them and punch the emergency call button.
The alarm shrieks. “Shit,” I think. ”This is getting serious!”
By this point, everyone else is so
alarmed confident that I’ve got this situation completely under control, no one has made any attempt at assisting me. I sprint back down the aisle and bark, “GET ME THAT AED!”
Still, no one moves, except for a woman in the center of the car who sheepishly asks, “…what’s an AED?”
USELESS. With a dramatic flourish, I yank open the rear car door and grab the defibrillator out of the wall. Bursting with glorious purpose, I gallop back toward the stairwell like a running back, little blue box tucked under one arm, the other pointed straight out in front of me, ready and more than willing to stiff-arm the first person that gets in my way.
The conductor blasts into the car right as I reach the stairwell, forcing me to pull up short at the last minute.
In case he doesn’t realize who’s in command of this car, I immediately begin to debrief him at a full shout.
“WE’VE GOT A MAN DOWN, CONDITION UNCERTAIN, TOP LEVEL,” I pant.
Together, we dash up the steps while I continue to provide my expert dental opinion. “POSSIBLE CARDIAC ARREST. I’VE GOT THE AED.”
Ignoring me, he crouches down, placing two fingers on the dying man’s neck. After a moment, his brow crinkles and he cranks around to stare at me. “His pulse is steady.” I raise an eyebrow and resist the urge to insist on taking his pulse, myself. Looking flummoxed, the conductor gently slaps the man’s cheek. “Sir. SIR. Wake up.”
Would you believe that WOLF-CRYING SON OF A BITCH gasps for breath and sits up?
NEITHER COULD I, but he does, while sputtering some nonsense about a very deep sleep. I pay little attention because this man has a demented sense of humor, and clearly CRAVES attention, and he’s not going to get it from ME.
“It’s a goddamn miracle,” I pronounce angrily, before returning to my seat to glare resentfully at him for the duration of the trip.
Anyway, long story short, I found an abandoned hiking backpack-bomb on the top level luggage rack several days later, to which I immediately alerted the conductor. Unfortunately, that was a false alarm, as well, but everyone was very supportive of safe over sorry because ignoring ticking luggage is how Houdini died.
A few days after that, I intervened to terminate an incident of on-board bullying, and, soon after that, I tricked the Metra Conductors into launching a futile, 24-car search and rescue mission for my iPhone, though it turns out that someone hid it inside my lunchbox and put it in the refrigerator at GXUSA…