That Time I Helped a Sad Drunkard

I was visiting a friend down south many years ago. I believe I was still in upper secondary school (high school, basically) so it must have been sometime 2001-2004.

My friend and I went to a city nearby. It was before lunch. Soon after getting there we saw a very inebriated miss a step as he was about to cross a road. His foot came over the edge of the pavement without him being ready for it and he fell head first on the asphalt. Although he got up by himself we felt that a fall that hard may have consequences.

We went over to see how he was doing. Of course with him being under the influence it was hard to tell. The safest thing seemed to be to have medical personnel have a look. We must have left our phones at home because I remember that we to a hotel. Maybe it was the one he was staying at. We sat down in the lobby together.

We called 112 (the European equivalent to 911) and asked for an ambulance. We explained what had happened and they promised to send someone.

While waiting the man told us that he usually didn't drink much but that he'd just been through a pretty hard divorce. After about fifteen minutes a police patrol arrived. I met them at the door and asked what they were doing there and they explained that it would be some time before an ambulance was available and that they didn't want to let it slide for that long.

There was two of them, both in their thirties. One man, who kept staring into the distance with a bored look, and one woman who was very engaged in the situation at hand.

She started talking to the man and he was immediately worried. "What are you doing here? Am I in trouble?" he asked, which is absolutely a reasonable question in that situation. The female police officer than acted in a way that I'll never forget. She laid one hand on his and covered the police patch on her uniform with the other. Then she said "No, you're not in trouble at all. Forget the uniform. Right now I'm just a human being who cares."

We left after that to attend to our own business, confident that the man had received support. The male police officer kept standing a couple of metres back staring into the distance with a vacant look.

-- CC0 Björn Wärmedal