Yesterday we had Castro Street Fair in town, and that meant I had to take MUNI to get to the gym. Not the best of experiences for a novice: I found myself putting the BART card in, only to hear that one is not valid in MUNI (what an idiocy!). Then I had to get change, since the turnstiles in the stations accept only coins and the changing machines only $5 and $1 bills. Sigh!
In any case, I made it in, and on the way from Church Street station to Van Ness, a buzz-cut in a camo outfit was standing near me, obviously fresh from the festivities, looking around and looking lost in thoughts.
He was holding on to a pole, standing in front of an empty seat. It was not surprising, then, he would sit down, no? Well, what looked like a fluid motion, turning around his arm to fall on the seat, was instead a fall. He slumped in the seat, then continued to the floor, lying with his back on the legs of a hapless young lady who wasn’t quite sure what that all meant.
After a couple of seconds, I realized something was wrong. While the onlookers (as usual) simply turned away, I decided I needed to get myself involved, and moved over so that I could see the guy. He was still slumped, motionless, eyes wide open. There was nothing alive in him.
I first touched his face to see if I could motion him to action, then slapped him lightly. There was absolutely no response. The girl still looked horrified. I tried to move him, so that at least he wouldn’t hurt her, but he was wedged in.
Fortunately, from behind a helping hand reached over just at the point where I was regrouping. I wonder if my lack of decisiveness made someone skilled in the medical profession reach over and across: in any case, soon the helping hand took the man by one shoulder, while I pulled from the other.
In no time we had the man lying on his back, his legs propped up on the empty seat. That’s when I realized the helper was simply performing basic CPR, just as I had been taught. He continued by feeling the pulse, barely there.
There wasn’t much we could do in the train. While the onlookers stared, I asked him whether I could be of any help, and he said he’d appreciate if I could help carry the victim out of the train at the next exit. This man needed urgent attention.
The two of us carried the man out. CPR-man thanked me, and said he’d take over now. I asked what just happened, and he said: crystal meth.