Traffic 1/2

traf·fic

1 : the passage of people or vehicles along routes of transportation; traffic congestion

2 : dealings, business, or intercourse

3 : social or verbal exchange; communication

4 : buying and selling; barter; trade, sometimes of a wrong or illegal kind

5 : to carry on trade or business, especially of an illicit kind; human trafficking

The lock on the heavy jail cell door releases and the door slides open with mechanical precision, making a loud clunk which reverberates off of the austere concrete walls of the sally port (a double-door safety system that they have in prisons. From the outside, you go through one door, and when it closes and locks, the second door opens to let you into the interior). Standing in front of me is the fire captain who’s taking information from the jail’s processing officer – he looks up long enough to point us down a hall. We continue walking down the hallway of holding cells and I see freshly processed prisoners, still wearing their street clothes, sitting on benches in their cells watching the procession of uniforms glide past their limited view through the bars. In the open cell at the end of the hall I finally see my patient – a man in handcuffs, leg shackles, and an orange jump-suit – sitting on the bench with firefighters taking vitals and four very large officers keeping an eye on things.

Finally, I see a friendly face – the fire medic stands up to give me a quick report. “Hey KC, so it’s your basic incarceritis. Forty-eight year old male, chest pain by three hours, vitals normal, no primary symptoms. That’s about all we have unless you speak Mandarin.”

“Sweet! No problem.” I step around the medic and address the prisoner. “Ni hao ma?” In perfect intonation I ask him how he’s doing in a typical Mandarin greeting. Fortunately I grew up in the Chinese community of my home city and know enough Chinese to order dinner, get my face slapped, and yell like a drill sergeant at a class full of kung-fu students. Unfortunately, it’s all in Cantonese and I just exhausted my Mandarin repertoire.

The prisoner stands up with a hopeful look on his face and fires off an excited string of Mandarin. “好. 这些人不相信我. 我有胸部疼痛.”

In unison the firefighters and officers look at me to see if I can tell them what’s going on. “Sorry man, that’s all I got, let’s go to the hospital.” I motion to the gurney as he does the shackled penguin waddle out of the holding cell. Kevin and I put on the leather hand restraints as the officer takes off the handcuffs. I’ll need access to his arms to treat him, yet he’s still in custody.

As we’re walking past the rows of holding cells I’m asking one of the officers what’s going on. “Yeah, we used the translation service on the phone, he said he has chest pain and knows that no one will believe him so we called you guys.”

“What’s he in for?” I always ask as I want to get an idea of how dangerous someone is – it doesn’t affect my treatment but it’s nice to get a heads up if I’m going to be sitting in close proximity to a violent criminal.

“We picked him up yesterday on a sting-op. Busted about a dozen brothels in a couple different counties. These guys were trafficking young girls from Asia on container ships and forcing them into prostitution. This guy was pimping out girls as young as thirteen! I tell ya’, right now, I hope he is having a heart attack – he deserves it!” Damn!

 



 

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