So, some background. I have spent some time in urban EMS, as perhaps you had determined from both the title of the blog, as well as my tales of rollicking good times. I have noticed a few things.
Thing The First: Typically, EMS service populations are not drawn preferentially from what might be termed “life’s winners”. Indeed, for some reason, the log books skew towards the underachievers, the disenfranchised, the unsuccessful, and those who, generally, actively choose the stonier path upon which to direct their lives. Thus, the Donna Reed Quotient is kinda low. Clean cut? Not so common. Well spoken? Again, um, no. Conversations revealing polish, education, and familiarity with The Classic Works of English Literature? Nope. Preventive, or any other sort of, maintenance in evidence? Uncommonly. Not of the dwelling, not of the vehicles in the yard on blocks, not of the furniture, not of the persons of the folks you meet.
There are, of course, exceptions to this observation. Among the impoverished portion of the community, there are folks who are clean, polite, energetic, hardworking, and who try to make that which they do have, last, and their households and persons reflect this effort. Their children can be seen, when you are on the scene, quietly, out of the way, watching you perform your EMS magic, when they are not completing their homework, or accomplishing chores about the home. But, these folks are outliers.
Thing The Second: There is a well nigh unitary correlation between what might be considered Dumb Life Choices (drug use, intoxication on a regular basis, failing to pursue an education, to name a few high profile such choices), and poor hygiene and poor housekeeping. Again, there are contrary examples, and I see within them a spark of potential for redirection of self into paths perhaps more life enhancing, but (1) they are exceptions, and (2) folks have to make these transitions themselves, because they value these changes, and will not do so because I am so freaking perfect, and think that they should. Because, for one, I’m not.
Thing The Third: There is a similarly high correlation between squalid domestic settings, and infestation with vermin. Deer hunters know (And, after all, I live in rural Michigan, and deer hunting is One Of The Eight Sacraments) that, if you want to attract deer (or any other game species), you provide those things that they seek, and they will come. Food source, shelter from wind, water, protected lanes of travel between these things? Set up your blind, the deer will come a’calling.
Similarly, if you want roaches, provide them with water (check your pipes), food (which we spell g-a-r-b-a-g-e), shelter (cracks in your cabinets, walls, or the openings for electric outlets).
As you can infer from the foregoing, dilapidated housing, with inattentive folks (because stoned/drunk/other), and a failure of the concept “take out the trash! Wash your dishes every several days! Remove/reduce the clutter everywhere that provides shelter for vermin!”, well, you get, at the least, bugs.
As attractive as that sounded to me, and as fun as it looked as well when in these houses, well, I was reluctant to form my own “Wild Kingdom” to enjoy in my very own home. I developed the habit of shifting my weight from one foot to the other, regularly, in hopes of at least providing a moving target for the insect life present in the biome. Kind of a common tic among my colleagues, at that time.
So, TINS ©, TIWFDASLIDC ©, and in the course of doing so, my partner, Doug, and I transported a soul to TSBTCIDC. Of course, this soul originated from, let us say, a domicile that would NOT win a Good Housekeeping Award, although Merck might be interested in seeking new antibiotics there. We arrived at TSBTCIDC, and I was giving report to Mallory. I was winding my tale up, about to deliver the epilogue, when she interrupted me.
“Do you have to go to the bathroom?”
(Me, shifting weight from left foot to right foot, rhythmically and repetitively) “uh, no. Why?”
(Her, looking skeptical) “Because you’re doing the potty dance.”
I looked at my feet. Looked at her. Looked at my feet. Looked at her. “Nope, I just got into the habit of doing this, so as to make it harder for the roaches to hitch a ride home.”
Just so you know, that is not a particularly successful pick up line. For some reason, the women do NOT find that insight alluring.