Small town living means that when you dial 911 you get the volunteer ambulance crew. It's just five guys. Five guys who can leave work when the pager goes off.
As you may know, I am an intensely private person in real life. It may not seem like it to read some of the stuff I post here or on other social media, but it's true. I don't let people into my home all willy-nilly. I really have to want you there to invite you in. If one's home is one's castle, then mine has a sizeable moat around it. A moat full of crocodiles. And the drawbridge is always up.
On one recent occasion, however, I had to make an exception.
Thanks to a herniated disk or two (or three), I've had some pretty significant back trouble recently. Normally I don't wear much to sleep in (Wait, what did I just say about my love of privacy?!) and I'm immensely, humbly grateful that on the particularly painful morning in question I managed to get out of bed and get dressed. I accomplished this by doing something, then lying flat on the bed to let my back realign before accomplishing another task or two and repeating the process.
Once I got my clothes on, I laid down again before tackling my shoes, and that's when it happened - a serious spasm that left me unable to sit up. After the requisite gnashing of teeth, I realized I had no choice but to call for help.
That sort of pissed me off, but what must be done, must be done.
The ambulance was quick to arrive. The crew dragged a stretcher in through my unlocked front door and down the hall, struggling to manipulate it through the narrow space and into my bedroom. Once inside they surrounded the bed and stared down at me.
It was a most welcome invasion of privacy.
They discussed my situation amongst themselves, briefly, before deciding the solution was to lift me by the bed sheet and transfer me to the stretcher.
I was not going to be able to lie flat because they had to raise the head of the gurney to get it out my bedroom door and into the hallway. I was not looking forward to that ten foot bit of the trip, so I took deep breaths and tried to psych myself up for this tiny trauma. Just before lifting me, the man positioned at my left shoulder leaned down and looked into my face. I didn't really focus on him. Not until he said "I wondered why you weren't in your office yesterday when I went to see you."
Suddenly I recognized the face I'd paid scant attention to. A face attached to a man, in my bedroom, who was preparing to move the top of my fragile spine and the bits of me attached to it.
Have I mentioned that I'm a probation officer?
He didn't drop me. He didn't jerk the sheet. He didn't even whack my head against the headboard. I should probably give him community service credit for that.