Truth Against the World

Friday, September 9, 2011

Dysfunctional Critical

"This is complete crap" grumbled Jay to his equally dissatisfied partner.  

"Well, whataya gonna do about it? You gotta house payment to make. The man doesn't care about you and your opinion." Said Dan.

"I know but damn...they give us a 'raise' by lowering our hourly rate and making us work ten more hours a week, they raise the cost of medical insurance while decreasing the coverage, and now they have us coming in an hour early without pay to fuel the damn trucks up. What's going to be next? Are we going to have to pay out of our pockets for the fuel to keep these damn things on the road?"

"You'll do whatever you're told to do boy. You wanna keep yer house don't cha?"

"Yeah, but this is ridiculous." Said Jay. They had been sitting in line at one of the only gas stations in Spartanburg County SC that had any fuel at all, much less the diesel that was required to fuel their ambulance. The county had mandated that all EMT's come to work an hour early so that they could get fuel in their truck before their shift began. They had a quarter of a tank left from the previous shift, and with a truck that got 8 mpg, a quarter of a tank wasn't nearly enough.

"If this line doesn't getta movin' soon we're gonna have no choice but to go out of service. We don't need to run out of fuel with a patient." That's when the tones went off. Dan McCants was a 25 year veteran of EMS and as southern as southern gets. Dan's southern drawl and proclivity for speaking in coded southern aphorisms made his way of speaking nearly impossible for Jay to decipher half of the time. Jay had been in the south for ten years now and had grown accustomed to the southern accent and even had a slight twang to his speech. A Californian can't help but take on the southern accent after spending a few years in the south. A Yankee, on the other hand, can spend fifty years in the south and still sound like the day they left.

"Turn down your damn radio ass hole," admonished Jay. "Are you trying to make me go deaf?" Dan just ignored Jay as usual. Dan had congenital nerve damage to his vestibulocochlear nerve which caused him to not hear so well in certain frequencies. At least that's what he told Jay. Jay had to wonder at times because Jay wouldn't be able to hear a blood pressure or lung sounds at times and Dan would have no problem. Most times Dan was a walking contradiction of science and logic. At least from Jay's perspective.

"EMS 2, Pri One, 1293 Blackstock Rd for a Stabbing, operate on Med Op's two. Scene is secure, PD is on scene. Repeating 1293 Blackstock Rd."

"Well, git it and growl," said Dan. Jay looked at Dan with that usual what-the-hell are you talking about look and quickly set about getting their ambulance en route to the call. They were only a mile from the location of the stabbing. Unfortunately they were in a spare unit. This particular spare had the sirens mounted above the cab which made it hard for the occupants of the cab to hear anything other than the deafening shrill of the sirens. They quickly arrived on scene and located their patient. It wasn't hard since their patient was lying in the driveway next to an old pickup truck. A police car was present but there was no police officer in sight. Dan grabbed the first in bag and followed Jay over to the patient who was curled up on the driveway grabbing his gut.

"What happened?" Asked jay.

"That sumbitch stabbed me."

"Who stabbed you?"

"That sumbitch did!!" Said the patient.

"Oh, THAT son-of-a-bitch, well why didn't you say so the first time?" Said Jay. Leave the bag and go get the cot," said Jay to Dan. "Let's see what we're working with. I'm going to take a look okay?" Jay grabbed the patients hand and moved it out of the way. There was plenty of blood, but nothing oozing or squirting too fiercely which told jay that no major veins or arteries were hit. "Well the good news is that you're probably not going to bleed to death anytime soon." Jay's bedside manner had long since worn thin during the last years worth of hardships. There was stress from every angle. His job as a medic was the only thing keeping a roof over his head, but the complete lack of concern for his well being from his superiors was making it impossible for him to remain professional. His entire family was counting on him remaining gainfully employed to acquire their immediate needs. Jobs were as rare as gasoline these days. In fact the relationship between the two was more than just an analogy in this tale of mine.

The second decade of the 21st century proved to be more than just the canary in the coal mine for Western Civilization's demise. The canary never made it out of the coal mine. A few flies did, but nobody paid any attention to them. It turns out that the clarion flies left plenty of maggots on the rotten corpse of the abundance society of the previous two hundred years.  That corpse rotted along with the rest of the coal that was never to be mined. The coal that was just too expensive to get at. It turns out that when gasoline reaches around 200 dollars per barrel, it gets too expensive to continue moving mountain tops to service a collective fantasy of endless growth.

Jay and Dan picked up their patient and placed him on the cot. They loaded him into the back of the truck and drove routine traffic to the hospital. Jay didn't think this emergency warranted using lights or sirens to get to the hospital. Most of the time using lights and sirens only saved a minute or two and it wasn't worth the risk of losing his job over something like two minutes. The driving public tends to act very erratically when an ambulance with lights, sirens, and air horns shows up behind them. They tend to do things like slam on their brakes, dart out into oncoming traffic, some go right, some go left, some speed up, some pull into the median. The point is that driving lights and sirens should be limited as much as possible because in the event there is a negative outcome with traffic the EMT's can be easily found at fault and therefore find themselves unemployed and in criminal court defending themselves. All because people are too busy doing things like texting and driving while under the influence of prescribed mind altering pharmaceuticals.

"So how did you come about getting stabbed in the stomach anyways?" Asked Jay after establishing an I.V. for the patient.

"Well I was eating my lunch and I happened to hear a bunch of bangin' and carryin on, so I took a look out my kitchen window and saw that ass hole in the process of siphoning gas out of my pickup."

"You don't have a locking gas cap?" Asked Jay perplexed. Nobody was stupid enough these days to leave an automobile unattended without a locking gas cap. If they had any gas in the tank that is. Usually people would steal gas at night, but lately the situation was getting desperate enough that people were starting to lose their wits.

"Well hell yeah, of course I do, I'm no idiot. That sumbitch took a crow bar to it. I grabbed my pistol and went outside to put a stop to his shenanigans. I would have shot him dead but I don't have any bullets. Anyways, I ran out of the kitchen with my pistol and pointed it at his face and said 'Ima shoot you in the face if you don't stop what ur doin' mister.' And would you believe it that sumofabitch had a knife strapped to his left leg. I couldn't see it at the time. It was one of them combat deals like the marines used to be issued. He grabbed that knife out of it's holster all quick like and stuck it in me like I was a gold durn hog and then ran oft with his Jerry can. He didn't get any of my durn gas at least. You reckon the cops will keep them thief’s off of my gas while I'm gone?"

"I wouldn't count on it. They're stretched pretty thin these days. I mean you can't not pay the police and expect them to keep putting their lives on the line to keep law and order."

"Damn, I needed that gas. I spent my last twenty dollars on that gallon of gas." That's how it was these days. It must seem strange to think of a man that just got stabbed in the gut with an eight inch combat knife being concerned with a gallon of gas. The truth is that Jay understood his concern completely. Normalcy was breaking down in society and nothing was as it seemed any longer. A fiction had descended over all of society that was perpetuated by the main stream media. A cover of business as usual that was to be kept on at all costs. The realities of human life as it had been for the vast majority of the human experience on Earth had been forgotten completely by the soft society created by the abundance of free energy humanity found beneath the surface of the Earth.  Humanity forgot that nature could care less about things like hunger pains and mankind's preference to be kept at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Life was becoming hard and depressing but mostly because of the psychological shift that was being mandated by Gaia. Jay was stuck between the reality of the world in 2025 and the life that he had lived up to this point. He was just unfortunate enough to be born at the end of the Age of Abundance as it would be known through the lens of history. The lengths that people were going to in his time to keep from accepting the new reality were akin to the tragedy of Icarus. The government, main stream media, and the major corporations (that were left) were all too happy to continue servicing the hallucination of endless growth.

"Yeah, I can understand that. You did get lucky. Looks like he probably just got some of your intestines. They should be able to fix you up at the hospital. Speaking of, I've got to radio the hospital and let them know that we are coming."

"Regional, EMS 2." Said Jay into the radio. After a minute or so Jay radioed again. "Regional, EMS 2." It was becoming increasingly harder to get answered by the hospital as every hospital had become overwhelmed with citizens who had no other recourse but to use the ER as their primary means of healthcare. When Medicare and Medicaid disappeared it put a strain on the broken healthcare system of the United States that would prove to be the final nail in the coffin. The government still kept it mandatory that citizens be "stabilized" in the ER facilities of every hospital in the United States, but they no longer provided any financial assistance to either the hospitals or the patients. The system was in the final process of decay and society was beginning to realize this. The majority, however, was still in that painful process of denial. That denial was giving way to the grief and depression that was all around.
After several minutes the radio finally made some noise. "Go ahead 2 this is regional."

"We're en route to your facility priority two with a 40 year old male, chief complaint is a stab wound to the lower left abdominal quadrant. Bleeding is controlled at this time and the patients vitals are within normal limits. We've got an ETA of five minutes. Any further?"

"Negative two. We're on diversion. You're going to have to go to another facility."

"Regional there is no other facility." Jay and Dan had been informed by their supervisor at the beginning of their shift that Regional was the only hospital that was not on diversion. There were two other hospitals within 20 miles, which were the only other hospitals they were allowed to transport to, and both of them were on diversion. That meant that they were not taking any patients from EMS.
"Go to another facility, we can't accept any more patients. Regional out."

"Dammit!!" Yelled Jay. "you here that Dan?"

"Yeah, dammit to forty hells," said Dan "where the hell are we supposed to go with this patient?"

"Screw it, just go to Regional. Let them turn us away in person. I mean every other hospital is on diversion to and we have to take him somewhere so it might as well be the closest facility which is Regional."

"We'll I don't want to get wrote up again," said Dan.

"Wrote up again?" Jay screamed, "how the hell are they going to write us up for doing our job? We have no other choice. We have to take him somewhere and we're not allowed to leave the county because of the fuel restrictions. So take us to Regional!!!" Jay felt his brain cracking up with a permanent fissure. One that would prove to be the end of his existence in service of the old paradigm. The stress and impossibility of business as usual had reached it's logical conclusion for Jay.

 This was how the Long Contraction worked. Each individual that composed society would hang on as long as they could before they would let go and enter into the reality of the limits to growth. There never was a day where the world woke up to this new reality. It happened one individual at a time. One day you had a job, and however impossible the demands of the broken system were, you continued extracting your particular needs from it. You told yourself whatever you needed to tell yourself to continue getting less and less from the system. Then one day you no longer had a job. Every month that passed by it would get more and more difficult to get your basic needs from the system. Gasoline, food, toilet paper, the every day items that you had come to require to live in the old infrastructure that had been the last 200 years of life in the civilized world, were all becoming increasingly harder to acquire. We had grown too many. The world was restrained by the limits of its own size. The middle class was about to be completely phased out and Jay was about to willingly phase himself out. Not because he wanted to but because he could no longer hold it together. Maintaining that business as usual mindset was requiring too much delusion for Jay's ability. He could only delude himself so far before this moment arrived. He had long since known the truth of his immediate future, but he had fought it tooth and nail because he had to. What was the alternative? No hope? From where Jay sat that was the only alternative he knew, but even still his decision to hang it up was not really a conscious one. It was one of necessity. Because to stay in service of this lie was going to drive him mad.

I suppose he figured that at least he wouldn't have the struggle with the everyday contradictions that his employer made him turn a blind eye to. The demands of the system were requiring impossibilities from the servants of that system. The demands were requiring solutions that could not present themselves because there were no solutions. The solution was that a lot of people had to die and a new way of living had to emerge. That couldn't happen in the paradigm of infinite growth because there were limits to physical growth. That meant that the only solution was to give up on the old paradigm and enter the new. The next step for Jay was to finally give up on the false securities of employment and digital currency. Jay was about to enter the class of economic non-persons that were now the vast majority of the populace. This same populace was foreign to itself because it would not show up on the news or on the iphone screens. The news had become 24 hours a day of servicing the dying paradigm. That meant showing the world through the eyes of the elite class with their celebrities and politicians. The news had become 24 hours a day of celebrity/politician distraction. The world was crumbling before the world's own eyes, but the population could not see it because their faces were only paying attention to the mesmerizing screens of their smart phones. This was what the 21st century American Dream had become. It was an alternate universe created by the internet and manipulated by the controlling powers. People who still had the means to delude themselves did it with the electronic gizmos and their pulse of the internet. People learned to live life through their digital avatars. In fact, smart phones and the internet were among the few things that the government maintained for the people. The elite class realized early on in the 21st century that their only hope of hanging on to all of their stolen wealth was to keep the proletariat plugged into the alternate reality of the internet. You would not believe the lengths people would go to ignore the physical reality of the world when their digital screens would tell them the opposite.

"We can't go to Regional you igit. Didn't you hear them. They said they were on diversion." Said Dan.

"Well where the hell do you propose we go then?"

"I don't know, but we can't go to Regional."

"Like hell we can't. We can, and we're going to Regional. I'm tired of playing this damn game. Take us to Regional." Jay was almost there. Just a little bit more pressure was all he needed. And Dan's ability to ignore reality would prove to be the final straw.

"Ima call the supervisor. We'll put the monkey on her back." Dan grabbed his personal cell phone and called the supervisor. "It's gone to voice mail." He hung up and called again and again it went to voice mail.

"She's not going to answer you ass hole. She's too busy writing people up for doing their jobs just like she's going to write us up for taking this patient to Regional. Now take us to regional." Jay was at the end of his rope. Just one more contradiction or delusional thought from another was all that was needed.

"I can't get wrote up again" said Dan, "if I get wrote up again I won't get my raise at the end of the year."

"Raise!! You think you're getting a raise? Have you gone mad. Have you not been paying attention. Stop the truck!!"

"Why?" asked Dan.

"Just stop the damn truck now!!"

"I can't stop, we have to get this patient to the hospital."

"What damn hospital, they're all on diversion!!" Jay was now red in the face and screaming at the top of his lungs. He was there, at the breaking point. Even Dan heard the snap from his seat in unreality. Dan, the perpetually optimistic and impossible contradictory harvester of business as usual and hallucinatory thinking. Jay was finished. "STOP THIS DAMN TRUCK BEFORE I THROW THIS PORTABLE OXYGEN CYLINDER AT YOUR HEAD YOU BUMBLING MORON." Jay was now in a fit of rage in his minds last stand between old and new. He was about to break through to the realization that this was no longer working for him. He was no longer able to continue in this madness. Dan looked into the rear view mirror that peered into the patient compartment of the ambulance and saw Jay's red face ready to explode all over the back of the ambulance.

"What's wrong with you?"

"Fuck it," said Jay, "I've had it. Stop the truck, I quit."

"You can't quit. You'll lose yer house. There are no other jobs to be had. How are you going to feed your family?" Luckily for Jay they had come to a red light and so Dan had to stop the truck.

"Tell the Supervisor and Director that they can go FUCK THEMSELVES." Jay opened the back door to the ambulance and hopped out in a delirious state. He turned to the patient and said in a voice as  calm as an autumn breeze:  "I apologize. You met me on an unusual day for me. I simply prefer not to any longer." With that he turned and began walking in the opposite direction. All of the pressures of his domestic responsibilities were screaming at him to stop what he was doing. He had a mortgage payment and family that depended on him for groceries. Jay could no longer translate that pressure into logical thought. He could no longer continue on in this world of impossible demands. He simply had to begin living an authentic life. A life that paid strict attention to real reality and all of it's conspicuous agendas. A life that listened to his inner bliss.  That bliss said that he could no longer participate in the fiction that was the end of this age.  Besides, it was either quit or choke the next security guard that told him he could not take his patient through the emergency room doors.

The truth was that EMS was over. This was the moment where society could no longer pay for EMS. This was not just a turning point in Jay's life, but it was a turning point for the infinite growth paradigm. Jay had no special providence, he just happened to be the human being who jumped out of the infinite growth paradigm at the exact moment that said paradigm was no longer possible. That's not to say that society didn't keep attempting to service it with their willful deceit because they most certainly did. It's just to say that this was the exact moment that the old paradigm of infinite growth died. It was similar to when Nietzsche declared that God was dead. What Jay didn't know at the time was that the next day the county mayor was going to furlough all EMS personnel on account of there not being enough money to pay for it any longer. Nobody could blame the mayor. His choice was between the fire department and EMS. Even that was temporary because three months later he would permanently furlough the fire department as well. His choice at that point was either the fire department or the county police, and what kind of choice was that to make? Volunteer fire departments had long ago disintegrated because they could no longer afford fuel for their trucks. Of course fuel costs were the number one driving factor behind the wheel of non-progress. The new paradigm, or what would soon be called the Neoparadigm, was one of anti-growth and therefore anti-progress. At least as man had come to know progress. The Neoparadigm did not care about profit. It's god was the god of renew-ability and sustainability. Indeed, you might as well call it the god of scavenge and scarcity.

The Walk

Dan was at a loss as to what to do next in order to assure his end of the year merit increase. He couldn't leave the patient, and he couldn't transport the patient anywhere. He couldn't even drive because somebody had to be in the back with the patient. His mind was at it's own limit and was currently being shorted out with the lack of options. In fact there were no options except the one that he chose. He turned the truck around and followed Jay. He got on the P.A. and said, "get back in the truck man, for cryin' out loud, are you tryin' to get me fired." Jay just kept walking.

"Come on man, get back in the truck, this is craziness."

"Fuck you," said jay. "Leave me the fuck alone."

"Come on, you got responsibilities, get back in the truck. The patient is hollering back there!"

Jay knew that Dan was just going to keep on attempting to get him back in the truck no matter what he said, and he could hear the patient hollering over the P.A. Dan was just too stubborn and too stuck on stupid at the moment to do otherwise. So Jay walked over to the driver side of the ambulance.

"Look, there is nowhere to take the patient. Alright. Even if I stay on the truck where are we going to go? What are we going to do? There is nowhere to go and nothing to do accept for what I'm doing." Dan starred at Jay for a few moments and then looked away in contempt.

"Yeah but.."

"But what," interrupted Jay. "Where are you going to take him? Security is just going to tell you that he can't be admitted, then what?"

"Well, I'll call the supervisor and ask her."

"You mean you'll call her like you just did, and she won't answer like she just did, and then we'll be sitting at the ER with a patient that we can't take in and it will be no different than being here with the patient. Either way the situation is not going to resolve itself."

"We can't just abandon the patient" said Dan. He was right, and Jay knew it, but what were they to do.

"Look, I'll try to help resolve this, but then I'm done. I can't do this any longer." Jay climbed into the back of the truck to have a talk with the patient.

"What in the hell is going on with you two gold durnit?"

"Yeah, about that" said Jay, "it seems there is nowhere that we can take you to get the care that you need."

"What the hell do you mean there's ain't nowheres you can take me. Take me to the gold durn hospital." Said the patient outraged.

"Yeah, about that, the hospital is on diversion which means they aren't accepting any other patients."

"How can they do that? Ain't it illegal?"

"Well technically it's illegal but it doesn't change the fact that security isn't going to let us in because the hospital is on diversion. It's against policy for us to take you out of county without supervisor approval and anyways we don't have enough fuel to take you out of county. So what would you like us to do?"

"I need to be treated. I've been stuck in the gut."

"The best we can do is to take you back home and see about treating your injury the best we can with what we have, and we aren't set up to take care of something like this long term. Everything we have is just to deal with stabilizing emergency situations. Your bleeding is controlled right now, but I'm not sure if your intestines were cut open or not. Basically your problem is going to be infection and you'll need antibiotics for that. You need to be sown back up and we don't do that."

"Take me to the hospital." Cried the patient. "Please, I don't want to die, just take me to the hospital."

"Fine." By that time Dan was already in the back with Jay and the patient. Jay turned to Dan and said "let's go. Fuckem." So Dan drove them to the hospital where there were three other ambulances with patients on cot's just outside of the ER doors. Security was there refusing to let anybody in.

"We're on diversion" boomed security. "Take your patients elsewhere."

"Where the hell are we supposed to take them" shouted Garen Spencer. Garen was a rather burly and rough around the edges veteran of the desert wars of the early 21st century. He had a short fuse and no tolerance for stupidity.

"I don't give a shit if you take them to tenbuckto, you ain't taking them here. Now get the hell out of here before I call for police."

Jay, knowing Garen pretty well, knew that this situation was going to get violent. He figured he'd better step up and see if he could help resolve the situation. "Where is the supervisor" Jay asked Garen.

"Hell, I don't know. Nobody can get her via cell or radio."

"Well, I suppose we're on our own. I'll tell you what I'm gonna do." Jay turned to the security guard and said "you see this patient here," pointing at his patient. "He's been stabbed in the gut. He needs a doctor. He's your problem now." With that Jay turned and walked away. Everybody in attendance at this unsuspecting event were stunned stupid. How could he just walk away they all thought. Jay realized that the system was broken. It had reached dysfunction critical and there was nobody who could do anything about it. Healthcare had become overwhelmed with societies own dysfunction. This was just one aspect of civilization that was no longer working. It could no longer work. There were too many people who needed medical attention and no money to pay for it. A new way would have to arise from this juncture. This new way was going to have to depend on things that did not need petroleum to make them function. Without the petroleum to make all of the plastic and supply all of the energy to move modern life and to grow modern food it all ground to a halt. Jay was aware of this halt. Jay was embracing the moment where the wheels of progress stopped moving forward. The wheels would not turn due to will alone, nor would they turn due to wishful thinking. The more denial that was piled up, the more dysfunctional the whole thing became. This was the logical conclusion of existing under a paradigm of infinite growth on a finite planet. From here on progress was going to mean your ability to scavenge and adapt. Progress was going to mean contraction for a while. We had to progress towards zero growth. Slowly the wheel began turning backwards and it would be up to every day people to figure out how to get out of the way and learn to sketch out a slow living.

Jay walked home from the hospital. His house was five miles away and he needed the time to "cipher and gonkulate" as Dan would say. What was he going to tell his family? He had a wife, two toddlers, his mother, and his father-in-law at home waiting on his check to purchase the food that would sustain them. They all depended on that check to stay above water and out of the government food lines. Jay figured that life was going to have to get a lot more local. These large machine scaled requirements of daily life would not abide a crumbling infrastructure. As I said before, there was not a day where society woke up and realized that the apocalypse had happened. The truth of infinite growth would reveal itself one individual apocalypse at a time. The end of growth would stretch itself along a chain of one epiphany after another all the way to a plant paced present future. Once again man would learn his true place amongst the giant organism of which he was a vital part, Gaia.   


justjohn said...

LucidDreams, thumbs up. Good one!

I was curious about word count, my computer says 5300 words. fyi

Also, perhaps a typo, you have accept that should probably be except.

Luciddreams said...

justjohn, thanks

I've edited since that post so there are more words now ;0)