Things About Wearing A Lot of Hats

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of working. Going and doing and being, a lot of things all at once. I have switched hats on the run (literally) from Kindergarten Teaching Aid, to waitress, to High School Drama Teacher, to EMT, to Wanna Be Writer, to Special Ed Teacher, to Mom, to Sister, To Friend and sometimes, if I get my way at all, I get to wear my Sweatpants and Wine Hat at home on the couch.

Yesterday was no different from the rest. I worked at the restaurant all day and then went home and made dinner, did some laundry, and went out to visit some friends and the last remaining bar in town. It was a difficult decision to make, since I had fallen prey to my heated mattress pad in the late afternoon and was pretty much hunkered down for the night with a rental on Amazon. But the friends were persistent, and the movie was pretty terrible. I made the mistake of assuming that any Russell Crowe movie is gonna be good, especially if he is paired up with Jennifer Connelly, like in A Beautiful Mind, but Noah wasn't helping the Doldrums that seem to be pursuing me relentlessly, so I gave up, or gave in, and put some jeans on and went to Kuks. I am glad I did. Funny how those little choices can have life altering ramifications.

There was a rowdy crowd there for the darts tournament, including a bunch of hunters and some not-local guys who are working on a contract up here indefinitely. Most of these guys have been in the Mustang at one point or another, so I knew them by face if not name. As soon as I walked in a few of them recognized me as the morning coffee pourer, etc. They made fun of the red wine that I was dragging my way through, but I had been to the brew pub the night before and, well, I just can't do two nights in a row like that any more. After awhile some of them disappeared, and shortly thereafter, one of my friends came to get me. Urgently.

One of the visiting lads had taken a swan dive out of the sunroof of his moving vehicle. He had landed on his face, and when I got to him, he was wedged into the backseat of his pickup, bleeding everywhere, with some very frightened friends around him. I told them to call 911 as soon as I saw him. He'd done a good job tearing the right side of his face off, including his ear. I sent random strangers to my car to get my bags while I held onto his bleeding head, only imagining what the inside looked  like if the outside had sustained this much damage. Not to mention his spine. He was conscious, and talking to me. Which was a relief. The position we were scrunched in the vehicle was eerily similar to the crash scenario we had just done at the school. Head injury and all. I got some semi-drunk volunteers to get a backboard wedged in behind him and we rolled him up on the bench. My hands never left his torn up face. This was one of those times that I wish that I could do more. The kids that were there with him (they were all in their early 20s) had sobered up quickly at the sight of his dangling ear. I talked a couple of them through how to hook up my oxygen tank, only to find out that it was empty. In the 45 minutes that we waited for the ambulance, I went over and over in my head how dumb it was that this good looking 22 year old kid had been sitting in the Mustang this morning, drinking coffee, and now he was on his way to plastic surgery, at the VERY least, and lucky to be alive. For a few minutes of drunken stupidity. I wished to God that I had three sets of hands - there were so many other things that maybe I could have done. Or more supplies. Or any kind of help or preparedness. These are the moments that highlight our lack as a tiny, underfunded town. And our helplessness as humans to undo even one bad decision. The ambulance got there after what seemed like forever, and we got him successfully transferred. Later, his buddy called me to say that, sure enough, he had a spine fracture and had been flown by helicopter to Spokane. Even so, he's a lucky dude. Lucky and dumb. I went home with blood on my hands and jacket and shoes and woke MacKenzie up to tell her that I would rather see her never drive a car than to forget for an instant that they are deadly weapons. I hope the kid's face comes back together ok. He is a handsome boy. But he'll never be completely intact again. And maybe that's how some of us have to learn. It makes me sad. And Angry. And feel very small and helpless. I liked him better when I was his coffee pourer and not the person holding his face together.

Tomorrow I go back to Kindergarten. Where the responsibility is no less than it is in the back of that truck. Because somewhere along the way, the kids have to learn about good decisions and bad ones. And really, the responsibility is always there, even pouring coffee, to be kind, and to be wise, and to make good choices that other people see. It doesn't matter how many hats I wear, my job is really the same. I am thankful for ALL of my jobs, every role I play, because even on the days when I pretend to be a teacher, I am fairly certain that I am learning more than anybody.


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