Thursday, September 29, 2011

Little Cuba

Tonight, BFF94 invited me out to dinner with a group of her friends I mostly hadn't met, but had heard great things about. They were all going to meet up at this little Cuban sandwich shop I've been hearing about for years, but had never gotten around to trying. It's in the suburbs, so nobody ever invites me.

Shortly after arriving, we spotted giant containers of coconut ice cream for $5 bucks in their cold case, so obviously, these proprietors were good people. I don't know a lot about Cuban food, beyond learning to make black beans and rice and ropa vieja from the elderly Cuban neighbor who lived two doors down from me at my first house.  (His care came with the house -- assigned to me by Miss Bea, the first owner -- and when I sold it, I deeded him to the new owner.) He was always threatening to kill the frat boys on the other side of my house with his machete (which he pronounced Muh-CHET-Tay) when they got too loud and rowdy.

We were all getting acquainted over our delicious plantains and such when a RUCKUS erupted outdoors. I wasn't paying the slightest bit of attention (I'd parked just outside what appeared to be an unsavory-looking bar two doors down, and then tuned out the whole neighborhood), until one of the girls at the table tapped her husband on the shoulder and said, "that guy's in trouble," and before any of us realized what was happening, he was outside examining the man who'd collapsed out front.

"Mi esposa es el medico," she explained to the owner (something like that).  I was busy worrying about universal precautions and locating the giant container of Purell that was clearly displayed on the counter. We all immediately began speaking in ALL CAPS.

My social media updates for the evening read:

  • "ordered the Cuban" followed by,
  • "A guy just COLLAPSED outside the Restaurant, AND we had a DOCTOR at our TABLE. (He is outside now, SAVING the guy's LIFE.")

He was actually outside talking on his iphone, probably saying LIFE SAVING things, we surmised, and then the owner ran inside and grabbed... a pen. (Oh yeah. "On site tracheotomy?" I'm thinking. "Emergency thoracotomy?") We could see that the guy was having a hard time breathing. Then he was clutching his chest. "Maybe he needs an epi?" I guessed out loud (because I couldn't remember albuterol).

But he was on the phone so long, we were laughing nervously and speculating about whether or not he was on with MovieLine ("for movie times for Chunnel, press one...why don't you just say the name of the movie?")

It was about this time when the owner came over and ... apologized to us. "Sorry, so sorry," she said, reassuring (?) us with, "he's American." At this point our eyes were fairly glistening with liberal tears. Why would she apologize? Who could be angry with someone for collapsing? Did we seem like such ugly Americans that we would summon INS instead of EMTs?

Despite the scene of carnage outside (EMTs, fire trucks, paramedics, etc), we noticed that several undeterred  diners breezed past it all and marched right up to the counter to place their orders. Clearly our culinary faith in this establishment was well-placed. (Or else this is a commonplace occurrence? Yawn?)

When our doc returned to the table, after the paramedics had supplied oxygen and loaded the man onto a gurney, he explained that the man's asthma was causing respiratory distress, but that this was further complicated by his inability to speak. (We had figured that out earlier, but we didn't know the politically correct term for Mute, so everyone just thought he was too choked up to speak, instead of realizing he could not speak.) Complicating that, what little he could communicate was via sign language, but in Spanish. He could write a few English words (hence the emergency ink pen), which amounted to "call my wife."

All I know is, it sounds like the albuterol inhaler he has really isn't doing the trick, and our response to that might be to start a small reality tv series which we'd call "STREET MEDIC," where we just happen upon people in distress, and then make the appropriate phone calls.

My final post of the evening was: "THIS is what HAPPENS when we come to the SUBURBS?"

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