Off-job . . . this means your last job of the shift. It can mean, “happy days, its nearly home time” or it can mean “at last, I’m bloody knackered”. Whatever it means you hope you’ll be off on time. That’s what you hope anyway . . . but it doesn’t always go that way.
Off-jobs always have a habit of saving the ‘special prize job’ till last. The off-job can sometimes mean driving miles to a cardiac arrest. It can also mean spending hours with a patient threatening suicide or it can mean helping a poor old lady who’s been stuck on the floor for hours suffering with a broken neck of femur (really sad ones). No matter what it is, it seems its always saved for the off-job.
This was our off-job. I stood, blinking, at the man lying near the platform edge, attempting what looked like the breast stroke, in a large puddle of his own vomit and urine. He shifted his position to reveal his back – which was smothered in a long brown streak that made its way to his backside. His trousers were halfway down his legs and fresh faeces protruded from his cheeks. It also lay smeared down his legs and some seemed to be trying to escape drowning in the vast vomit-wee.
Two police officers stood at a safe distance from the man, hands tucked into their stab vests, their expressions insouciant and placid. As the patient attempted to smear his bodily fluids across his face and hair the officers both sighed deeply.
I looked across at my crew mate with a sense of panic. He shrugged his shoulders and glanced at his watch.
“Well?” I said
“We’re meant to be off in five” he said trying to work out the maths. I looked at the patient. Who looked at me. He smiled. There were several brown lumpy things stuck in his teeth.
I turned to the underground staff who’d led us down here, “Are there any lifts back to the top?”
“Nope – sorry” He then pretended to fix his radio. We’d been led down several flights of stairs and without a lift . . . we’d have to carry the patient out. Desperately, I looked at my crew mate again, searching for an answer. Looking back at me with resigned defeat he shrugged his shoulders again and started readying the carry chair.
“I think, we’re gonna be off late”
He wasn’t wrong.