Despite that, the threat of prison time isn't the main reason why I live my life the way I do. Mainly it's because I think being a good person is better than being an asshole. But I suppose if I were an asshole, I wouldn't think that way and wouldn't really care. It's a bit of a Catch-22.
After my recent experience with Terrence (not his real name™), I have to assume (or at least hope) that assholes who don't give a shit about being good citizens have some fear of prison, though it obviously isn't enough to keep them in line.
I don't really consider myself a judgmental person, but sometimes I just get a feeling on people. When Terrence first rolled through the door just after midnight, my first (admittedly judgmental) thought was "This is not a good guy." I can't say exactly why I thought this - perhaps it was the look of utter nonchalance in his eyes, perhaps it was the way he refused to make eye contact with anyone. Perhaps it was the way that he was cursing at the medics and nurses who were trying to take care of him. But maybe it was his shiny new stainless steel bracelets attaching his wrist to the stretcher.
Yeah, it was probably that last one.
The police officer to whom the handcuffs belonged trailed closely behind, and the medics looked almost as displeased as he was as they gave their report.
Medic: Hey there Doc, this is Terrence, 21 years old, healthy. He and his 4 friends were involved in a car accident. They hit another car, and then they all got out and ran.
Police (scowling): Yeah, 7 blocks,
Medic (annoyed): Anyway, no loss of consciousness . . .
Medic: (really annoyed): ANYWAY, he has no complaints other than some pain in his lip where he has a laceration.
Police (eyes shifting): That was, uh, from the accident.
According to the officer, the accident was relatively low speed, not enough to cause major damage to either car. Then the 5 guys inside all got out and ran in different directions. Terrence was reportedly the driver, and he was definitely (obviously) the slowest of the group. He was surprisingly unwilling to give us any details of the accident.
Regardless, I examined him from head to toe, and the only thing that hurt was a 1.5 cm laceration of his lower lip. No other bruises, lacerations, abrasions, or deformities. Nothing hurt when I examined it. I turned to the officer, who was still huffing and puffing a bit, and asked him if Terrence would be leaving with him tonight.
"You're damned right! This asshole made me run 7 blocks!"
The ability to run 7 blocks rules out the vast majority of serious injuries, so luckily Terrence had done a lot of my job for me. A few X-rays and sutures later and Terrence was ready to leave. Or so I thought.
All of a sudden his chest hurt. Supposedly.
Now at this point I had two options - 1) assume that Terrence was acting like the asshole that he obviously is and was faking his symptoms because he knew exactly what was about to happen to him, or 2) act like a professional trauma surgeon and make sure he didn't have any injuries. I reluctantly chose option 2. A CT scan of his chest, abdomen, and pelvis was . . . ready? Completely normal. The nurse automatically did an EKG (despite Terrence referring to female dogs repeatedly) which was, shockingly, also normal.