Coincidence: The occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection.
“You often meet your fate on the road you take to avoid it.”
I had barely made it across the station threshold when the tones dropped and County radio informed us we had an overturned vehicle on the turnpike. I turned around before the door had time to close, cursed myself for not stopping to pick up a coffee because it was cold and rainy; it was six in the morning and accidents on the turnpike could last forever.
Snuffy was our driver, a grouch on good days and a (rhymes with sucker) on bad days. Still, there was always something about Snuffy’s black cloud that attracted me to him and there was this one time…well, that’s a different story. Ray was our medic. Gray hair, but handsome in a George Clooney meets Pierce Brosnan sort of way. He was always smiling. Even when he was chewing you out for spiking the wrong IV bag, you always felt good around Ray.
On the way out to the turnpike, Ray chatted about the weather, Snuffy growled every now and then (only because he admired Ray…this was his way of being nice) and I tried to climb into my bunker gear in the back of the moving rig without falling over. Because I was the smallest person, I was usually designated as the “climb in the mangled car to hold stabilization” person.
Because the Turnpike is State Police territory and almost everything in State Police territory is far, far, away from their barracks, we arrived seconds after the black and white (and red and yellow).
We could barely make out an overturned truck a few yards off the side of the road. The Trooper was walking towards us from the accident scene, holding a flash light, shaking his head.
“Funniest thing…someone called to report the accident as it happened…which was, what, about fifteen minutes ago? Said the truck lost control, swerved off the road and flipped a few times. Caller said he had to keep going because he was going too fast to stop and was afraid he’d cause another accident. Anyway, there’s nobody in the truck.”
“Is there anyone UNDER the truck?” Snuffy asked, his bottom lip bulging around the tobacco he had hidden in his mouth (thus the nickname).
“Nope. Not as far as I can tell.’
We grabbed flash lights and headed to the truck. He was right. No driver, no passenger. There was, however, a baby seat, which gave us pause. The truck had landed in such a way that the guys were able to push it so we could peer underneath and make sure there wasn’t a tiny body stuck under the metal.
There was a farmhouse tucked away, off the road. A good mile hike. We’d either have to walk to it or drive off the turnpike and get back on in order to get to it.
“What do you think?” Ray turned to us.
“I’m not walking there.” I said. No way, no how. Not in this frigid weather, and not on an empty stomach.
Ray didn’t even bother asking Snuffy.
The Trooper shrugged. “Ah, if someone walked to the house and had injuries, I think they’d have called by now.”
It was too early, too wet, too cold, in the morning to have to really think about it, so we climbed back in our rig and headed into town. Ray chatted about possible scenarios of what could have happened to the driver of the truck. Snuffy growled when appropriate, and I climbed out of my wet bunker gear.
A few blocks away from the station there was a Yum Yum Doughnut coffee shop. I’d rather have an egg and bacon for breakfast, but since I was dying for a cup of coffee, I begged Snuffy to stop.
“I’ll even buy you something, as long as you keep it under a buck fifty.” I told him.
As usual, whenever an ambulance pulls into ANY place, people stare at us like we have purple skin and three heads when we walk through the door. We got the looks, of course, but then someone said excitedly, “Are you hear for the people in the accident?”
The patron pointed to the far end of the counter where a man, a pregnant woman, and a toddler were sitting, the only people in the place NOT looking at us.
As soon as we approached them, the woman started crying hysterically. “Please don’t take my husband away, please don’t take him away.”
They were, indeed, the accident victims from the turnpike. Someone had stopped to help and they asked for a ride back into town. Turns out, the husband had an arrest warrant issued for him and they knew if they went to the hospital, his freedom would be cut short.
I don’t know how he did it, but Ray charmed them into going to the hospital. Promised he wouldn’t tell the cops, but he knew the doctor’s would have to report it.
It was such a short ride to the hospital that I didn’t have much time to talk to them, which was fine because I was feeling a bit woozy:
1) I STILL hadn’t had any coffee.
2) I could not believe the way fate had intervened and we had found our missing accident victims.
As soon as we dropped them off at the ER, we got hit for another call. By the time we got back to the hospital, a police car had arrived for the ‘wanted’ man.
I learned two things from this call:
1) When you’re thinking should I stop for coffee now or later? Now is always the answer.
2) When you’re trying to outrun the law, never hide in the doughnut shop.
Excerpt from Girl Medic - Confession of Chaos and Calamity Behind The Lights and Sirens.
Available at BN.com and Amazon.com