Car 6

Car 6

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Lessons From the Dying

Many people do not realize that cabs are used for more than taking people to airports, work and home from bars. There are corporate accounts, small material delivery, prescriptions/durable medical equipment and transporting people to and from hospitals and medical treatment facilities.

Transporting people to and from hospitals and treatment centers have a variety of sources of payments. Some patients pay for their cab. Often the cab fee is paid by their insurance carrier or public aid. Emergency rooms, dialysis centers, radiation therapy, mental health facilities, and more.

There's a teenager I take often to one of these centers. The treatment he receives is not a cure, it buys time, delaying death in the hopes an organ donor that is a match comes forth. It's a 35 mile drive so we have time to talk. Most of the time conversation doesn't happen. One night, the floodgates opened. We mostly spoke about video games and basketball. This kid who barely speaks could not shut up. It was wonderful. We also talked about his condition and the hope he and his family had when he got the organ he needed and the frustration when his body rejected it.

Then he said something that had never occurred to me. He said, "If I did what you did, I would feel real good about providing a service." I asked him what he meant. He went on. "Without you I wouldn't get my treatment. I bet public aid don't pay what a normal person pays. But you're a part of what keeps people alive. That must feel good. If I were a cab driver that would make me feel good."

The mind flooded with the other people I take to various medical treatments.

  • There's an old couple that doesn't speak much english. Old, frail and with the same condition. He gingerly helps her into the car with his own feeble arms fortified with the strength of his love for her. Along the way he often points out things to her to look at. 
  • There's a person I take on a regular basis who has poor hygiene and even worse poor manners. He is difficult and obnoxious. One day I had him and he was silent. By the time we got to the hospital it was obvious he was having an episode and was scared. I ran in and got the attention of a nurse who sent a team out to extract him and give him the care he needed. I stayed with him until they came, talking to him. We locked eyes the entire time. His eyes were full of terror of the inevitable that will one day take him (sooner rather than later).  
  • The guy who is the car nut and just likes talking about cars and his glory days the entire trip. Sometimes he talks about what a jerk his doctor is and how mad he is that he is not allowed to drive anymore, but does it anyway when no one is looking. 

There are others who frustrate you. People with liver or kidney problems who go to liquor stores or bars in between treatments. You wonder if they are unaware of the correlation or simply don't care. You wonder if that person might get an organ before people like that young man. Not much you can do. As much as we are a part of the service that keeps people alive, we are also a part of the process of the self destruction of others. 

A young man who's clock is ticking who likes basketball and video games sees nobility in the role of a cab in his life. We spoke about religion briefly. He fears people of faith who want him to be off public aid. He sees no nobility there. 

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