Most of the time my reaction to a drunk driver is either 1) anger that this idiot put my wife and children and everybody else in the community at risk by his overriding stupidity, carelessness, and thoughtlessness or 2) well actually, there is no #2. It's just pure, unadulterated, undiluted anger. However, one of my 2016 New Years resolutions is to try thinking rather than seething, and in doing so I have already noticed something interesting - drunk people are not all created equally. This may not come as a surprise to anyone else who actually uses his brain (unlike me sometimes), but I've discovered that drunk drivers come in five very different, and very distinct flavours.
1. The belligerent asshole
This is the guy who comes in angry, stays angry, and leaves angry. Even though he came in smelling like a pub floor covered in stale whiskey and vomit, if anyone dares insinuate that he's been drinking, he will fling obscenities with reckless abandon.
"WHO THE FUCK SAID THAT? COME HERE AND SAY THAT TO MY FUCKING FACE! I AM NOT DRUNK, YOU FUCKING FUCK! I'LL KICK YOUR ASS! COME HERE AND I'LL KICK YOUR ASS! FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE!"
THESE PATIENTS ARE ALWA . . . ahem, excuse me. Sorry. These patients are always an absolute pleasure to care for and I look forward to making sure they are happy and healthy before they leave me. The joy I get at ducking to avoid another wad of spittle that has been flung my way is rather indescribable.
Approximately 15% fall into this insufferable category.
2. The crier
These people come in acting relatively normal, but as the minutes tick by, reality comes crashing down on them, especially if they are unlucky enough to have actually hurt anyone else in their own car or someone else's (or the grandmother crossing the street). At that point they begin sobbing uncontrollably and are usually completely inconsolable. They often moan and sob about the tickets they are sure to get, losing their licence to drive, or ending up in jail. Unfortunately they generally aren't upset that they screwed up, but instead they just feel sorry for themselves. In short they generally make everyone in the trauma bay just as despondent as they.
Approximately 35% fall into this miserable category.
3. The silent type
I must admit that this is my favourite type of drunk driver, because they are quiet. Whether it is concussion-related or otherwise, they sit quietly on the stretcher, allowing us to complete our workup, rarely making a sound. They answer questions, often simply nodding 'yes' or shaking their head 'no', and the trauma bay remains a serene environment. Ah, serenity now.
Approximately (and sadly) only 10% fall into this lovely category.
4. The obnoxious flirt
These are mostly men, but I've seen many women who fall into this category as well. They don't seem to care how much they are slurring their speech or how much drool and/or vomit they have on their chin and/or shirt. They also seem oblivious to the fact that while they obviously think they look like Brad Pitt, in reality they look more like William Pitt. These distasteful people will mercilessly hit on nurses, doctors, techs, maintenance staff, or random pieces of medical equipment if it strikes their fancy. You have no idea how sexy an IV pole can look at 2 AM if looked at just the right way, and neither did I until a rather soused patient told me so.
Approximately 15% fall into this arrogant category.
5. The happy, clueless twit
These poor idiots apparently believe that alcohol magically transmogrifies them into Eddie Murphy (that's the 1980's "Beverly Hills Cop" Eddie Murphy, not the 2000's "Pluto Nash" Eddie Murphy, of course). They fail to understand that being laughed at is not necessarily a good thing. In reality, their jokes are rarely funny to anyone but them, and this results in the entire department looking like this:
Approximately 20% fall into this occasionally-amusing, though often derisive category.
Those of you doing the math may have noticed that these five categories only add up to 95%. I've reserved that remaining 5% for the "other" category:
- sober drunks, those who behave so well you can't really tell they are drunk
- "I'm not drunk" drunks, idiots who flatly refuse to admit to having had anything to drink at all, even when confronted with a blood alcohol level ("YOUR LAB MUST HAVE MIXED UP THE BLOOD SAMPLES!"). These can sometimes turn into the belligerent asshole.
- non drunks, people who act drunk but somehow have no alcohol or any other substance in their system