A recent post on Roanoke Cop's blog reminded me of a story from back in my paramedic days. Once, when I worked for a private ambulance service while going to school, I got stuck working with a partner named Vicki. (Last name withheld to avoid embarrassing Vicki Blackner.)
She was a rather nasty little person, and most people who worked there really didn't care for her. And typically, one of her things was to always try to show everyone that she was tough and could do or take anything that a guy could. (This of course did not seem to apply to actually doing her share of the lifting when there were heavy patients, but such is life.)
One of the ways that Vicki liked to show off her toughness was by always playing with a can of pepper spray that she carried. She always said that she was never going to be a victim or lose a fight but we all knew that the real reason that she carried it was because she mouthed off to so many people that it was only a matter of time before someone up and cleaned her clock. In fact, most of us were hoping that we'd be there when it happened.
Well one morning, a few of our crews had met up for breakfast at a local restaurant, and Vicki was being pretty much ignored as usual. So to get attention and show us how tough she was, she suddenly announced that her potatoes needed some hot sauce and she pulled out her can of pepper spray.
Someone asked her what the hell she thought that she was doing, and she replied that she always put pepper spray on bland food to spice it up, because real tabasco sauce wasn't hot enough for her and the pepper in the pepper spray was more to her liking. Most of us joined in, telling her to quit fooling with that stuff and put it away, but she told us that she did this all the time and went to spray some on her dish.
Now had she actually sprayed some of that capsicum pepper juice onto her food and eaten it, we'd all have probably been a little impressed. We'd have still thought that she was nuts and a bitch, but we'd have been impressed. However she blew her big moment when, in her rush to spritz her hash browns, she didn't check to make sure that the can was pointing in the correct direction. It wasn't, of course, and she ended up zapping herself almost square in the face with it.
She dropped the can and jumped to her feet, rubbing her eyes (and grinding the irritant in) and screaming "Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod..."over and over again as she staggered around the dining area bumping into damn near everything. We naturally all broke out laughing and just sat there howling as she careened around the room crashing into tables as she tried to find her way to the bathroom. Another diner took us to task for laughing and not helping. "What's wrong with you people? You're all paramedics!"
"That's ok," my pal Jim said. "She's one too."
I laughed so hard that my stomach hurt.
I ended up losing the last four hours pay for that shift when we wound up going out of service because she had to go home, and as expected, complaints were made to the company by at least one diner and by the restaurant, so we all got chewed out. But Vicki got a week's suspension for having the spray contrary to company policy, and I was able to hook up with a new partner in her absence (one who was actually pleasant to work with and did her share of the lifting) so it all worked out for the better. But every time pepper spray comes up for discussion, I can't help but remember that morning in that restaurant. And it still makes me snicker after all these years.