|Oyster Shells at Public Landing, Onemo|
It's a good thing I left early for work yesterday.
I had an extra ten minutes and for no particular reason, since ordinarily I'd just waste the spare time on the internet, I opted to leave a little early instead. No sooner had I driven past Mathews Chapel than a most peculiar sight appeared--peculiar even by Mathews County standards. We have a very high tolerance for peculiar around here.
A man was sitting on the side of the road, on the shoulder, dangerously close to oncoming traffic.
At first I thought he was looking for something, particularly since he shifted between his hands and knees to a sitting position. But he had no car. And he didn't appear to be in any hurry to get up or move. He just sat there, staring off at nothing.
Cars were whizzing by him a mile a minute, so I pulled over.
He had his back to me as I approached him, asking, "Hello? Are you OK?"
I walked around and faced him. Squatting down in my high heels and work clothes, as the wind from the passing cars whipped my face, I looked him squarely in the eyes and asked, "Sir, are you OK?"
Clearly disoriented, he grabbed his chest and mumbled something unintelligible.
"Hold on a minute, don't move, let me run back and get my phone."
I dialed 911.
"Hi, I'm calling on behalf of a man I found on the side of Route 198. He is complaining of a pain in his chest and appears disoriented."
Nice Dispatcher on the Other End: "How old is he?"
CBW: "I don't know, about 60?"
CBW to man, "Sir, how old are you?"
Man: "Well, let's see. I was born about 1908."
Now, CBW wasn't born yesterday, and although she is no good with numbers and math, even she was taken aback by this answer, and his next statement.
Man: "I'm 83."
CBW: (Speechless.) He couldn't have been 83. If he were, CBW was getting ready to quit her day job because clearly this man was going to lead her to the Fountain of Youth and she'd become instantly rich! He did not appear close to 83 years old--but no matter what he was not born in 1908.
Man: "No, wait a second. I'm 73. I was born in 1928."
CBW: "OK, he says he was born in 1928 and he's 73."
Even though that math didn't add up either, it was getting a little warmer. Close enough, as I like to say.
Nice Dispatcher: "What's his name?"
CBW: " What's your name, sir?"
To protect the individual, I will use a fictitious name.
Man: "Kevin Charles Hale. My twin brother and I were named after Theodore Roosevelt."
Now, CBW doesn't know a whole lot, but she knows that the name that man gave her had absolutely nothing to do with Teddy Roosevelt or any other president, vice president, governor or senator, for that matter. She began to smell something a little fishy in the
CBW to Dispatcher: "He's a little disoriented, but this is the name he gave me: Kevin Charles Hale.
(In a hushed tone...) He says he was named after Teddy Roosevelt."
Dispatcher: "OK, I"m sending the ambulance now."
CBW: to Mr. H.: "The ambulance is coming."
Mr. H.: "I won't have to pay, will I?"
CBW: "We need to make sure you're OK. We need the medical folks to check you out."
What CBW wanted to say: "Lord, how lucky I am to have health insurance. If I ever find myself alone and disoriented on the side of the road, a hair away from oncoming traffic, I hope my biggest worry is not how I'm going to pay for a trip to the hospital."
As he sat there and I stooped (in my work clothes and heels, may I reiterate) on the side of
He said he was retired from the railroad. Was from Roanoke. Apologized and said he didn't normally dress like this. (He was dressed just fine, all things considered.) Some friends he was "leery of" dropped him off. He'd been walking. But nothing was wrong with him. Peppered throughout this conversation, though, were some very odd remarks, which were neither here nor there but were enough to let me know something was really wrong with him.
When I steered the conversation back to his physical ailment and reminded him what he said about the chest pain, he then said, "No, not chest pain. I couldn't breathe." Then he proceeded to say he was just fine.
Except you're sitting here on the side of the road conversing with me as if we were sitting in a coffee shop, I thought to myself.
He really wanted to talk more, and I actually wanted to hear more (my hour-long commute and impending work day notwithstanding), but about this time the ambulance pulled up.
CBW, aside, to the nice young ambulance worker: "Now he's changed his story and says he didn't have chest pain. Says he couldn't breathe. Was saying a few very peculiar things too. I'm afraid he might need attention, but it might not be medical attention for anything physical."
Nice Young Ambulance Worker: "Did he say anything about the FBI?"
CBW: "Not yet but it was only a matter of time."
NYAW: "Mumble mumble - CBW couldn't hear because she was trying to focus on the conversation between the other two paramedics and Mr. H. - mumble.. escape from psych ward."
CBW: "I just couldn't leave him here on the side of the road so close to the oncoming traffic and wanted to make sure he was OK."
Paramedic to Mr. H.: "Let's get you checked out, sir," and they helped him off the ground.
CBW to Mr. H., touching his hand as they walked him to the ambulance: "Good luck, Mr. H."
And off she drove to work where she was only five minutes late.
I don't know what happened to Mr. H., but I sincerely hope he is OK and that he has some very patient family members able to take care of him.
At least that's what I hope.