I used to like pigeons, mostly just because they were birds. Living in New York City and travelling to other cities had almost convinced me that they were really just flying rats.

But the final straw came as I was walking by Tomkin's Square Park one spring. There was a newly-dead pigeon laying in the mud near a feeding frenzy of other pigeons. Two horny pigeons repeatedly humped the corpse.
Back in March I was sitting on the stoop in front of my building in Brooklyn, minding my own business, tickling some strings. The building next door had been recently renovated and the real estate agents were having an open house. The asking price was over $500,000. People were coming and going all day.

A middle aged, vaguely Hispanic appearing woman walked out of the house and over to me, and said "Excuse me, what kind of people live in this neighborhood."

Me: Uhh, they're ok.
Her: No, what kind of people
Me: oh. Russians, Pakistanis...
Her: Any Ayrabs?
Me: Um, yes.
Her: Any Blacks?
Me: yes

At which point she just whipped out a cell phone, and started yelling into it:

"Yeah, that house you wanted, the neighborhood is full of NIGGERS! NIGGERS! Yeah fuck that! I'm telling you, fucking niggers! etc..."

People were stopping in their tracks and leaning out of windows to see what was going on, all of them seeing this woman going ape shit screaming racial slurs on my porch. I was terrified.

But that was nothing compared to what happened next. The woman walked toward her car, which was parked right across the street, and was joined by a sad looking teenage girl. And then, emerging from the house, was an old woman.... WITHOUT A FACE!

There were two eyes and some hair, but where her nose and mouth and cheeks ought to be was just a giant, red mass of scar tissue. I have never seen anything like it, not in war movies, the Meuter museum, not anywhere.

She moved very slowly and worked her way into the passenger seat of the car. I was still dry heaving when I saw through the car window a lit cigarette in her hand.

I have no idea what was going on.

Alternate title: Why trying to kill yourself is a bad idea

I've seen a lot of screwed up stuff. Being in emergency services it just happens that way. I've been the one who's gotten the goth kid out of the tree, watched multi-million dollar homes go up in flames, cut people out of vehicles, known the difference between rescue and recovery, and made the phone call to the parents/loved one/etc.

The flip side to being in emergency services is that you get to be the one who saves the life, who saves the house, who rescues the kitten from inside a wall (done it!). Almost every bad situation is counter-acted by a good one, and it balances out just enough to allow you to keep your sanity and sense of a somewhat normal life

The hard part comes when the save is someone you wish didn't make it. Knowing that you can do everything and save this person, but that they will never be the same. And therin lies the case that began this.

It was a training video, so thankfully we were not the ones who had to make this decision. I know the people who were there, and who did have to make it. It was a middle-aged male who decided he had enough with life. I can't even pretend to know what his thought process was, but it led him to picking up a shotgun, placing it under his chin, and pulling the trigger.

The training video picked up in the ER surgery. At first, we had no idea what we were seeing. The doctors and nurses were frantically doing something though. Then it slowly hit us. We were looking at his face. No mouth, no nose, no eyes, no ears. But somehow he had not damaged his brain. They were able to find, using the air bubbles they were seeing, his nasal cavity. They were able to get an airway. They saved this guy's life.

The gentleman left the hospital nearly two or three months later. He had no hearing, no vision, couldn't speak (he had blown off all of his jaw and 3/4 of his tongue). And maybe, using the miracles of modern technology, they can rebuild all of that. But it's that what if. What if we had just let him go. What if we didn't do everything we can because we knew what kind of an outcome it would lead to. But playing God is not our gig, it is to react to a situation and do everything in our power to help - to be there for anyone who needs help, regardless of situation. And while I am sure that I will continue to see disturbing things, this will definitely stand out in my mind because sometimes it is more than just the graphical nature, it is the thoughts that haunt you at night that really get you.

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