Sunday, March 25, 2012

I'm Sorry, Enormous Stranger

Here's another story from back in the day that I may have shared with some of you. It's another one of those situations where I had no idea what the fuck to do, and to this day, I'm not sure if I could've handled it any better.

It all started back in college after a percussion lesson. I was playing a piece that required a certain sound that I just couldn't seem to get with the mallets I had at my disposal. I spent some time with my teacher going over some different choices, but we were both ultimately unsatisfied. Near the end of the lesson my teacher suggested that some mallets I had might sound ok if they had some thin rubber sheathing over them. I politely responded with "What? Where the fuck am I going to get that shit?" 

Well apparently a good place to check was the chemistry department, where they would hopefully have some rubber or plastic surgical tubing that was the right size to slip over the end of the mallet. If you haven't thought "well this sounds fairly sexual" by now, then clearly I'm not doing a very good job. 

Anyway, off I went to Aubert hall, which incidentally I had been pronouncing incorrectly all throughout college. I assumed it was pronounced "aw-bert", until my teacher was all

and told me it's pronounced 'au-bear'. 

Since it was the home of the chemistry department, and I was a music major, I had obviously never gone anywhere near the place. It was big as fuck, and the moment I stepped inside I had no idea where to go. There was no "surgical tubing this way" sign, so I had no choice but to ask strangers "hey do you know where I can find some uh...surgical tubing?" This was met with mostly "no." Or just a confused face. Something like..

I assumed most people in there would at least be able to point me in the right direction and help me narrow my search, but apparently the whereabouts of surgical tubing was some giant fucking secret. I eventually got some vague answer like "uh 3rd floor maybe?" and was somewhat relieved, but also a little irritated because who knows what further tribulations I would have to endure for two measly pieces of plastic if step one already took about forty times longer than expected.


Then, to even get to the 3rd floor meant even more bullshit because it was one of those buildings where certain elevators only went to the 2nd floor, and if you get off there expecting to maybe find stairs to the 3rd floor then fuck you because the only stairs on the 2nd floor go down, but then you can't get off at the 1st floor to start over using those stairs, because those stairs led only to "basement level C" or some other endless crypt. So back to the elevator. 

After finding the mythical 3rd floor, I had to hop around into various rooms and once again ask strangers, "does anybody know where I can get some fucking surgical tubing for christ's sake?" A few people responded with "what do you need it for?" See usually this means "yes I know where it is, but you have to give me a valid reason for using it before I'll give it to you" but instead they would listen to my story about mallets and end up telling me "ok, well that might be down the hall? I'm not sure!" Good. Well then I'm glad I regaled you with my tale for nothing.

I finally ended up finding a TA that told me where I could find some tubing, but after hearing what I needed it for, he told me they probably didn't have the right size. AWESOME. Well, I checked it out anyway, and sauntered down the hall for hopefully the last time.

Eureka! This room was definitely what I needed. It was a giant lab/warehouse looking room with boxes of shit fucking EVERYWHERE. Still didn't know exactly where to find the tubing I needed so I asked the only guy in the room. 

This guy, by the way, was huge. HUGE. He had to have been pushing 400 pounds. 

I told him what I was looking for and he expressed the same nonoptimistic sentiment as the TA in the previous room, and showed me one of the sizes of tubing they had. I told him it was probably too small. He said "well we have one size bigger, but I still don't think it's what you're looking for." I asked him if he wouldn't mind showing me anyway because hell I'd pretty much gone on safari to find this stupid room. He pointed to where it was and said "well, we might need a ladder." 

Sure enough it was stacked several feet off the ground on top of all kinds of boxes. We glanced around for a ladder, but couldn't find one. Then he saw a little metal stool and said "oh, well this should work." I said "...are you sure?"

I think you see where this is going.

This stool's structural integrity was dubious at best. But the guy approached it with a confidence that suggested he had no scruples about its ability to support his utter massiveness. 

I will now demonstrate my reactions to the situation as it developed, using owls: 

He climbed on and stretched his arms up to grab the coil of tubing at the top of the pile.

His balance wavered.

He regained his composure and stretched again.

The stool creaked.

He had the surgical tubing in his hand!

His balanced wavered again...

And the stool gave out. 

He crashed thunderously to the ground with a force felt by probably most of his ancestors. This. Guy. Fell. HARD.

He groaned slightly and I was immediately psyched that he was still alive. I rushed over to him and asked "Oh jesus, are you ok!?"

He seemed calm, but his answer was "No." 

He looked down. I followed suit, and glanced at his feet, which had maybe just taken more brute trauma than any feet in the history of humans. The sight was unpleasant.

Picture a foot. Now picture that foot upside down. Now picture the person attached to the foot not being upside down. I imagine this guy was in shock, as there was no reason he had to not being screaming like a completely psychotic individual. 

Despite the horror of the situation, the thought occurred to me, how to test the pile of tubing that had collapsed by his side without it being weird? But before I had time to give that much thought, the TA from down the hall had apparently heard the crash, along with probably the rest of the University of Maine, and had come to investigate. He immediately took action and called an ambulance. Hmm, guess I should've done that. 

So there we were. I was standing by being not all that helpful while the TA attempted to calm the fallen man, even though the TA seemed much more hysterical (seriously this guy's ankle was ruined). I had no idea what to do. I had resigned myself to not really testing the surgical tubing, as it seemed like the less important of two issues at the moment. But then, what the fuck was I going to do? The ambulance had been called. This guy was clearly suffering, and I felt horrible, but he was in stable condition, and being looked over. I thought about sticking it out until the ambulance got there, but then didn't really know what purpose I'd serve other than to confirm to the paramedic "yup, he fell." This guy didn't even seem comfortable with this TA all up in his face, so I didn't want to add to that. Plus, because this whole ordeal had taken a lot longer than I expected, I was almost late for class. 

So, I was stuck. I realized that leaving was probably the wrong thing to do. I was obviously partly responsible for this accident, so I guess I felt like I should see this thing through to the end. But then several minutes passed, the ambulance hadn't arrived, I felt awkward as fuck, and nobody was talking to each other. I finally asked the guy something generic like "hey man, are you gonna be alright?" and he responded with something equally generic like "yeah, I'll be fine". I apologized profusely, and he brushed it off, saying "it's ok, it's ok." Feeling like I couldn't possibly get any more closure than that, I left the room, apologizing once more, and feeling fucking terrible.

That surgical tubing might've been perfect