29 July 2009

Crawlies

I have been to this house before, but I don't recognize it until I reach the porch steps. We are assaulted with a wave of stench and the resident banging on the screen door to push it open. Gagging and choking on the overwhelming ammonia smell of stale urine triggers the heavily repressed memory in my brain of what else I'm going to encounter in this apartment. We have a EMT-B student with us tonight who is carrying our supplies and has no idea what is about to happen, he didn't know what to think when asking about "public assist" calls and I told him it could be literally anything at all. I'm crossing my fingers that this call will be as fast as humanly possible, whatever public assistance this person requires will be a quick fix and get us back on the road.

As the resident cracks open the screen door, we find out the assistance required is to "put my parrot's cage back together". I know we are entering into the kitchen but all the lights are out and what my small flashlight shows is a large metal cage, two pieces assembled, three pieces on the floor and a small bird hanging out in the middle. Resident is in a wheelchair and can't reach high enough to put the pieces of the cage together. Every step I take across the room results in a crunching sensation beneath my boots. The floor is a mass of moving insect life and I'm struggling not to be a "girl" about this and just keep going. The stu puts our bag on the floor and I'm immediately in his face to pick it up and do not set another piece of equipment down while he is here. Resident points me to a light switch, but more light just means more bugs I can see, none of the roaches are the least bit disturbed. There are probably undiscovered species of bugs evolving in this apartment as we stand there.

Rather than argue with the resident about the necessity of calling 911 for a parrot cage, we try to put it together as quickly as possible, but nobody knows which piece goes where and it takes time. I give in to my inner paranoia and try to keep my feet moving at all times to discourage the bugs. Each piece of the cage has bugs crawling on it and I am more thankful than usual for my gloves. I do NOT look up, the thought of what is crawling on the ceiling and could decide to drop on me at any second is just too much. Assembly completed, we stampede out of the apartment.

For the record, we called social services the last time we were in this apartment, this resident has a social worker. I did not call again last night. I can not imagine being the folks who live upstairs from this hell-hole, I hope they pay almost nothing and have invested some money in an extermination company to visit daily. I've never been past the kitchen. If I had to see the bedroom in a similar state and imagine this person sleeping with all those bugs night after night, I'm not sure I would sleep again. Stu will never regard public assistance calls quite the same way, nor probably ambulance calls in general.

3 comments:

Walt Trachim said...

I think I've been to this house myself...

Jen said...

You probably have. I'm pretty sure that this resident calls often.

B said...

I've been some in some rough apartments, with roaches and ant problems, but the scene you just described makes me want to cry and vomit, in that order.