I don’t get angry with people very often or easily but on a call one evening I was getting pretty close to it; the ignorance of some people never fails to astound me.
Martin is a doctor, friend and colleague and he spent the day with me on one of my shifts on the car. We were called to a pregnant lady who had nearly fainted while out shopping with her husband. Staff had taken the lady to a quiet area and provided a screen that hid her from view from the customers in the supermarket. Unfortunately for her this quiet area happened to be right next to a huge window that looked out on to the high street.
Feeling rather like we were working in a goldfish bowl we quickly assisted the lady to the floor so she could lay down flat; this would help her to recover as quickly as possible. We started to check her pulse and blood pressure and gather some details from her husband.
Obviously as she recovered she was acutely embarrassed to unexpectedly find herself in this predicament, but what made matters worse for her was the people walking past outside the shop. Some glanced briefly at us as we dealt with the lady – that’s human nature I guess – but once they had seen what was going on they went politely about their business.
Others though were utterly shameless; a few walked right up to the window and stopped just short of pressing their noses on the glass to get the best possible view. I gave them a ‘look’ and waved them away but they were not perturbed – with a couple of them it was even necessary for me to give them some mouthed instructions – accompanied by some well recognised international hand gestures asking them to move on – but still they gawped. At one point a young woman peered around the screen shielding us and made no attempt to hide her curiosity. She simply stood there watching us.
“Would you mind moving on please, it’s not nice to stare” I commented. I just got an insolent stare as a large gum bubble popped in her mouth by way of a response, so I asked a second time.
”She’s my friend” her expression was challenging me.
“Just go away now!” I said it more firmly this time. She sneered and slowly walked off.
On this occasion, it wasn’t a terribly serious call and no harm was done, but when Martin and I talked about the job afterwards this was the aspect of the call that stood out for him. When I was a child I remember my mother would usher me past such situations and remind me not to stare as it was rude. Even though I have put up with such bad manners before, it still saddens me that good manners are lacking in some people. I also believe that it is these same people who would be the first to object if they or their loved ones were being gawped at while in pain or vulnerable by nosey bystanders with no manners.