An Observation of Two Men Working to Save a Life

I once watched a man die in the parking lot of a Kentucky Fried Chicken.


I watched from inside my car as two paramedics did all they could to save him. They worked hard to keep his heart beating. It looked exhausting.


I watched the two of them work, there on their knees, one to each side of the man. The man was lying there on the pavement beside his car, his arms and legs stretched out and spread wide like a dying cartoon.


The blue door of his nineteen-ninety-something Oldsmobile left wide open. A sixty-four ounce plastic soda cup left on the roof.


One of the paramedics was old, the other was young. The young one was skinny and had pimples on his face. The old one was fat and had scars from pimples on his face.


I remember thinking, as I watched them sweat, that they worked well together. I thought the two of them made a good team.


The old one was throwing the whole of his weight into the mans chest with every compression. The young one was sucking gallons of air into his own lungs, before transferring it all into those of the dying man.


They made no eye contact. They said nothing. They worked tirelessly.


I thought they shared something. Something more than the power to save lives. Or the desire to at least try. Though, I didn’t know what it was they shared.


And then I thought maybe I did.


I started to see these two men as one. Older and younger versions of each other. I was happy to think that one or the other had traveled back or forth through time to be here for his younger or older self. I wondered why one might have traveled through time to be here for the other. I wondered if either of them even had a clue. Was this something they had already discussed? While sitting in their rig waiting for work, maybe?


I then noticed they had stopped doing anything at all.


They each stretched their backs up straight. The old one let his tired arms fall to his sides, the young one put his hands on top of his head. The old one was panting like a dog. The young one took another deep breath, and with no one left to breathe it into, he let it out in a defeated sigh. For the first time since I had started watching them, they looked right at each other.


At the same time, as one, they both stood up. The old one first getting a foot under himself before pushing off his knee with both his hands. He leaned against the blue Oldsmobile. Still panting, though now slower. Catching his breath, his eyes went back to the body.


The young one rose to his feet without any trouble at all. He leaned against nothing. His breathing was stable. He put his hands in his pockets and looked to his tired old partner, shaking his head at his future self.

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