Posts Tagged ‘urban blight’


August 6, 2010

December 2009     San Francisco

Arriving back in San Francisco last summer, I took a break from the medical work.  I found a company involved in local shipping, maritime logistics and tugboat operations, and started over at the bottom.  As usual, the bottom involved long hours, odd scheduling and repetitive menial tasks.  But the pay was very good and I figured that this work would lead to bigger and better things.  At the very least, it uncovered another American subculture:  the antisocially-employed maritime man. (more…)


Night Shift (part three)

July 12, 2010

Spring 2008     San Francisco

Well this is about it, folks – I am out of stories for now.   I have taken up a clean, comfortable  and strangely predictable existence back here in the First World, and that does not often lead to colorful accounts of nasty behaviors dredged up from the cultural slums.  I expect to be short of material for these odd pages until I blow a fuse and decide to relocate once more to a filthy primitive sandbox of a country, or go fall off tugboats in the Bay again or even start riding public transit every day.   Sorry about this!

Well, there might be one more tale next month.  Meantime, here are the last of the San Francisco paramedic stories:


Love & Haight

April 5, 2010

April 2005     San Francisco

I have to preface this account of living low on Haight St with the story of why I was out on disability for a little while.  At the time, I was working as a carpenter doing a $1,000,000 remodel on the highest house in San Francisco, right under Sutro Tower.  Here is a condensed version, originally entitled “Gravity 1, Chris 0” :

I got another big break!……except this one is in my leg.   I was at work, adding a piece of trim under the eave of a new section of roof. This involved standing on a ladder atop a lower section of roof, and leaning it against the outside of the wall I was working on.  Suddenly the ladder slipped out from under me.  I followed the ladder down and bounced off the roof, then slid ass-first under the safety rail, followed by the 10-pound electric sawzall. (more…)

Night Shift (part two)

February 3, 2010

San Francisco     Fall 2007

I am not working as a paramedic these days, just moved into a related line of work that will not yield any of the stories or photos usually flung upon these pages.  Ah, well.  Almost went to Haiti for a month of earthquake relief work – that would have been a trove of disaster stories, but the new work schedule prevented that.  Here is a second batch of memorable cases taken from working the night shift in the city.

One night we were assigned to pick up a “5150” patient, code for a person under 72-hour psychiatric hold due to the possibility of harming himself or others. (more…)

#22 Fillmore Bus – Seating Beating

October 2, 2009

October 2002     San Francisco

Ok chilrens, lets get back on our favorite bus line, the rolling home of all that is unsavory about public transit, the #22 Fillmore.  Today the theme is Beat-Downs. (more…)

New York City Travel Advisory

September 20, 2008

December 2007     New York City

This colorful dispatch comes in from our man on the East Coast, PJV. (Edited and re-printed here without permission.)

Tuesday morning I was in a cab, late for a meeting, staring out the window and trying to keep it all together as my drunkenness slowly converted to hangover. Traffic was gridlocked so the cab was in park. I found myself mesmerized by a trash tornado that was swirling the debris on the street into the air. This whole image of floating garbage was soothing, but in the background, something evil was brewing. (more…)

Burning Down the House

September 20, 2008

July 2007     San Francisco

While living in the Lower Haight, I and my three lovely roommates had a great old Edwardian house circa 1880, with an Irish bar on one side and a house on the other. I loved being in that bar: The sweet young bartender had been, somehow, one of my students back when I taught public high school in NYC. So I didn’t pay much for drinks, but the Irish weren’t the best neighbors. When stepping out our front gate, I often faced an obstacle course of puke, blood, undergarments, and extra-sleepy drunks. Weekends were worse. (more…)

Put ya ass in the air like ya just don’t care!

September 20, 2008

July 2006     San Francisco

This paramedic gig is a lot of things: ugly, depressing, sad, vile, dangerous, challenging, rewarding, and an assault on all five senses at once, especially smell. Everything stinks. Sometimes, though, there is a gem like this one that makes it all worthwhile. I almost wish I saw this one myself. (more…)