Sunday, November 28, 2010



I found a dead guy at work one night.

Well, technically he wasn't quite dead yet when I found him, so I guess I saw a guy die at work.

David, the night usher, had come up to me one evening fairly agitated saying that somebody was in the bathroom. This in itself did not strike me as noteworthy, but he seemed flustered. I couldn't get a straight answer out of him. He just kept saying that there was a guy in a stall who wouldn't come out. Since David was prone to dramatics and hyperbole, I wasn't too concerned, but he was acting really weird even for him, so figured I'd better check it out.

I made my way down to the men's room by theater #2. I noticed an odd smell when I entered the bathroom, but nothing you wouldn't expect from a public restroom next to a theater that seats 620 people. The door to the handicapped stall was closed, and I could see some bags and stuff on the floor. I knocked, but there was no response. Someone was definitely in there, but I couldn't hear anything. I opened the door to the next stall, and that's when I saw his head. It was sticking under the partition between the stalls. At first it looked like a severed head just lying on the ground, but then I realized that it was still attached to a body lying in the next stall.

There was white foam all around his mouth and his face was a horrible shade of lavender with white blotchy spots. I think I said "Holy shit" out loud and then "Oh no. Oh no." I could hear my voice echoing off the walls of the bathroom like a soundtrack I was listening to, not creating. I stared at his face and he stared back at me, but his eyes didn't have any life in them. His stare was completely blank. Just then his mouth gurgled and the foam started bubbling. I grabbed my walkie talkie and called for the detail cop. Miraculously, he answered right away. I told him to hurry to the first floor men's room, that it was an emergency. The gurgling continued but his head remained perfectly still and his eyes never blinked.

At this point, David walked into the bathroom. He still had a confused, panicked look on his face. I started to wonder if he had seen the head earlier and went into shock. I told him to go outside and make sure nobody came in. That special week of corporate McTraining I had attended a couple of months before was really paying dividends. Although, I don't recall them covering finding a dying person, so maybe it was my own crisis management instincts kicking in. Using a pocket knife I jimmied open the door to the handicapped stall. Now I was looking at a body with no head. A body with it's pants around it's ankles and a needle still sticking out of it's arm. It looked like he had been sitting on the toilet and then fell off sideways, with his head sliding under the partition.

The cop came rushing in at this point. He must have read the panic in David's eyes, because he was definitely moving with a sense of urgency. He came into the stall and immediately pulled a pair of latex gloves out of his back pocket. He quietly grabbed the guys legs and pulled him completely into the handicapped stall. The guy was kind of on his side at this point, and the gurgling had stopped. The cop took a good look at his face and said "Oh boy." He called the paramedics on his radio, and then took a closer look at the guy's entirely blue face by now.

"You just found him like this?" he asked.

"Yeah, about two minutes ago."

The cop reached down and turned the guy's face up a little.

"I don't think CPR is going to help this guy. Better wait for the medics..." he stood up and we just silently stared at the body on the floor. I looked around the stall and saw a half full plastic CVS bag, and a winter coat lying in the corner. Both standard issue for the homeless guys who frequented the theater. I don't know how long we stood there, but the EMTs showed up fast. All of a sudden, the bathroom was full of three or four paramedics with bags and equipment. I stood back as they surrounded the body.

That's when the guy shit all over the place. You know that myth about people's sphincters releasing when they die? Yeah, it's not a myth. My mind went to it's happy place. This was getting surreal. The EMTs cleared the guy's mouth and applied an oxygen pump. One started applying pressure to his chest while yet another checked his pulse. The whole time they were talking to each other.

"Did you see Chet at Andrea's party?"

"No, did he show up late?"

"Must have. I never know what that guy is thinking. You going bowling on Friday?"

"No. I hate those bullshit work parties."

A fourth paramedic knelt next to the body and pulled out a huge needle. He plunged the needle into the guy's chest Pulp Fiction style. I thought that shit was only in movies. Another myth proven true. The EMTs checked his neck for a pulse while stopping with the oxygen pump.

"Nah." said one.

Two more fire department paramedics appeared with a stretcher, and they all quickly lifted the guy onto the stretcher and put a blanket over him while continuing their small talk. They wheeled him out and packed up their bags. The cop followed them out. It was just me left standing in the empty bathroom alone. As I looked around I thought "Great. Now I have to write an incident report."

I wondered who the guy was. Maybe he was just a junkie who rolled the dice and met an inevitable end, but somewhere somebody had just lost a son, maybe a brother or a friend.......When it's my time to go, I sure as hell don't want to go like that, with a bunch of apathetic people standing around talking about potato salad at a BBQ and some asshole worried about paperwork.

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