The Old Man has a Name (Part V)

The Old Man on the Sidewalk has a real name:  Edward C. Bloser.  He was on the sidewalk with his five cartons of possessions because the good Lord put him right in front of me where I’d have to trip over him.  Ed needed help and it was my job to provide it.  I helped him right into the Veterans Administration system which has sucked him up and spit him out God knows where.  The VA is all about control and not at all about compassion.

[For the history, see “The Old Man on the Sidewalk,” ( “The Old Man on the Sidewalk, Part II,” ( “We Need Your Help,” ( and “The Old Man Revisited,” (]

Adult Protective Services tried to send Ed to Social Services Intake, but he was too sick for that so an ambulance was called—and this is where Ed’s whole life took a turn for the worse.  A call was placed to 911, which automatically sent Rural Metro.

Rural Metro sucks.  I’ve had enough experiences—almost all of them bad—with Rural Metro over the past twenty years to know what I’m talking about.  What people don’t realize is that there is an alternative.  You do not have to use Rural Metro.  TLC Medical Transportation has an ambulance service.  They provide the same skilled paramedics and accept the same insurance.  Dave Butler, executive boss at TLC, says the only difference between TLC and Rural Metro ambulance service is the color of their ambulances—TLC is red, white and blue; Rural Metro is something like chartreuse.

I say that the other difference is that TLC paramedics are not bullies; they are service providers.  All you have to do to get the nice guys in an emergency is call 911 and request TLC.  That’s all there is to it.  If you have your wits about you then you can call TLC ambulance directly at (315) 422-5911 (5-911, get it?).  Unfortunately, the day Ed Bloser needed an ambulance, I wasn’t the one who placed the call so 911 automatically sent Rural Metro.  (911 doesn’t ask who you want, which is probably a violation of Free Trade).

Because Ed has had seven strokes and is not exactly proactive or assertive, I sat beside him and gave the paramedic a three-minute summary of the hour I’d spent eliciting information from Ed.  The paramedic’s response was not “Thank you for your assistance.”  It was, “Who are you?  What agency do you work for?  Are you a relative?  By what right do you speak?”

What I am thinking is, “I am, you dorkhead, a helpful person” but the paramedic has no concept of what it means to be kind or have a good heart:  he wants system authorization.  He has Ed standing in the public lobby and hasn’t even taken his blood pressure.  The Rural Metro paramedic is a petty, malicious fellow who wants certificates and licenses to cover his cowardly, stupid butt.  When did we get to be like this?  When did we stop making personal evaluations and start demanding system certifications?

When did the milk of human kindness curdle into the paperwork of authorizing agencies?

So the Rural Metro paramedic gets hostile all over me.  I’m trying to help the patient, which RM Para isn’t; he’s just trying to block me, so he calls his partner over.  His partner has been talking to the building manager, not the patient.  His partner is an enormous man who towers over me in my wheelchair.  (Dave Butler at TLC, by the way, trains his people that when they are talking to a person in a wheelchair, they are to drop down on one knee so they are at the patient’s eyelevel.  This may seem a small thing, but why don’t you spend the rest of today sitting down whenever somebody wants to talk to you?  You have very little effect on what happens to you when you are in the one-down position.)

So the big guy takes over and decides that Ed is to go to the VA Hospital.  Ed and I worked out a plan whereby he would go to a regular hospital because he recited multiple poor experiences at the VA, but the Rural Metro jerk is determined to take over.  The jerk makes it all about him, not about the patient.  Ed has a carton with the VA Hospital’s return address on it and, based on nothing more than that, the RM Para-jerk decides Ed should go to the VA.  If Ed had a bag from McDonald’s, would the RM jerk have insisted on taking him there?  Just because you’ve been someplace doesn’t mean you want to go back there.

Isn’t this country supposed to be about freedom of choice?  Isn’t Ed supposed to be allowed to choose where he wants to go?

Every time I asked Ed if he wanted to go to the VA, the Rural Metro Jerk would loudly override my question.  He wouldn’t let Ed answer.  Two SOBs from Rural Metro stole Dr. Edward C. Bloser’s right to freely decide his own future, and Ed was too sick to fight them off.  So what we have here in the public lobby, on one side, are two people who are old, sick and poor; one has a doctorate and the other has an I.Q. of 140.  On the other side are two people who are middle-aged, healthy, have earned incomes and are morons, but they’re wearing uniforms.

I don’t need to tell you who won this face-off, do I? 

Welcome to my world—the America nobody wants to talk about where citizens’ rights are abrogated by the least petty officer.  The good news is that I have the phone number of the petty officers’ boss’s boss.  That, too, is my America.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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2 Responses to The Old Man has a Name (Part V)

  1. Kate says:

    Is there a VA ombudsman who can follow along and make sure that this gentleman gets whatever medical and housing he needs and that he is seen -and heard?

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