It’s an unexpected treat to run in to John outside the hospital. John is still in the ambulance service. He was an EMT when I was there, one of the old hands who made the place feel like home; the kind of guy you were always reassured to see when you turned up to a job.
‘I can’t shake your hand,’ I say, holding up the cluster of blood and urine samples like a dreadful NHS bouquet.
He hugs me anyway, and we swap stories – how things have been, what we’ve been doing, the gossip.
‘How’s the new job?’ he says, vigorously slapping me on the shoulder and almost putting me into the shrubs.
‘Not so new these days. I’ve been here eight months and I’m still in shock.’
‘All a bit sudden, wasn’t it?’
‘I know! I saw the job on the website and I thought why not? I didn’t think for a minute I’d get it. I keep expecting them to turn round and say they’ve made a terrible mistake.’
‘Yeah! It’s a great team. They’re all lovely. And the hours are so much better.’
‘No-one breathing down my neck.’
‘Smart move,’ he says. ‘Lucky, anyway. Me? I’m still wondering what to do next. They’re really putting the squeeze on us to do the paramedic thing. But I really don’t want to go to university, Jim. Then again…’ he says, leaning in. ‘Having said that, I wouldn’t mind going to university. Just not to study paramedic science.’
‘What would you do if you had the money, then?’
‘If I had the money? Well… Drama? History of Art?’ he says, laughing. ‘I don’t know! Something lovely! In fact, that’s it! Sign me up for a degree in loveliness.’ He smiles at me, his brilliant, warm and inclusive smile. ‘Do they do that, Jim, d’you think? Degrees in Loveliness?’
* * *
Happy New Year!
Thanks so much for reading the blog in 2015.
Here’s hoping 2016 is a good one for you & yours.