An Ambulance Driver Speaks On Grunge

Hello. My name is Karl Reburg. Thank you for inviting me into your home. I have been a free-lance ambulance driver for twenty-five years, and before that I assisted other ambulance drivers as an attendant for ten years. I wish to speak to you about a most serious plague on society-- grunge.

Now, I hear many of you murmuring, "What qualifies a mere ambulance driver to speak on grunge?" I am most impressed that you would have the presence of mind to form such a question. It speaks well of your intelligence, wisdom, and scholarship, and I know that I will fraternize well with you because of this. I always find hope for mankind when I hear such sensible murmurs from my audience-- many times, things seem so bleak and hopeless-- but when I hear questions such as these, I know that I can trust you kind folks to keep me honest and prevent me from straying too far from the subject at hand.

"But just what are your qualifications?" you rightly and justly ask. Well, in 1960, I was listed "Most Likely to Succeed" in my high school yearbook. Before that, I thought I would be an abysmal failure, but this vote of confidence was a real ego-booster, and it put me on track to be one of the most successful ambulance drivers on the East Coast of the United States of America. Last year, I grossed over $153,652.00-- no mean feat for someone like me. More important, through the use of a computerized billing system that I co-developed with a fellow ambulance driver, I am able to collect almost all of my receivables within 25 days.

More to the point, in 1964 I received my first honor, the Golden Stretcher Award, for having dropped my stretcher the fewest times. As anyone who has been on a stretcher will attest, being dropped is a most painful experience, one that we would not wish on anyone, so not dropping the patient is a very important skill, and I am most proud to be able to say that I am very good at not dropping my patients (although many of my incompetent partners over the years cannot make the same boast).

This was followed by the Ellen Acorna Memorial Award in 1965, the Arthur Holly Award in 1967, the James Whitson Award, the Molly Patterson Award, the Susan Atcheson Award, the Miller P. Chronister Award for Distinguished Driving, the Samuel Grompeters Jr. Award, the Silver Grasp Award for Cleanest Hands, the Xavier W. Litteton Award, the Dolly Radison Award for Cleanest Uniform, the East Plainfield Civic Association Citation for Most Compassionate Ambulance Attendant, the Eimear Hollister Award, the Vincent Y. Airedale IV Award, the Andrew Johnson Memorial Plaque, and the Bill Cilly Award.

In 1972, I was nominated for the Robert R. Richardson Trophy for Fastest Transfer from Ambulance to Emergency Room, but my driver dragged down our performance as a team, and we lost to a pair of young upstarts whose names are not deserving of mention here. This led me to some deep soul-searching, and I was forced to take personal inventory and reevaluate my priorities and goals in life. A few hours after I lost the Richardson Trophy, I decided that I would have to purchase my own ambulance and start my own business-- this would be the only way I could maintain suitable control over things and not risk losing any more important honors. After all, who wants to be rescued by someone not recognized in his field? Once, I was called to collect a victim from his burning house, and he told me point blank, "I'm glad you're here, Mr. Reburg; they tried to send me to the hospital with Jimmy over there, but I know he doesn't have nearly the kind of resume you have, so I insisted that they send you." I was so heartened as I loaded him into my ambulance and he was able to beam as he gazed upon the innumerable plaques, awards, trophies, and citations that line the walls of my ambulance. "I know I'm in good hands now," he said before losing consciousness.

After I started on my own, the accolades really started streaming in my direction. I won't bore you with the complete list, but it is a most impressive list nonetheless. I won my first medal, the New Pottstown Chamber of Commerce Laudatory Medal, in 1975. Other important endorsements over the ensuing years were the Four Aces Medal, the Woody Otbais Jr. Citation, the Edith Klipcrey Trophy, the Bill Eldeen Award, the Robert Floydson Award, the Sam Nilduam Outstanding Achievement in Applied Ambulance Operation Award, the Stan Sneghem Distinguished Driver Medal, the West Meadow Garden Club Heroic Virtue Citation, the Plum Creek Medical Association Trophy, the Tony M. Nyphot Gold Medal for Freshest Breath in an Ambulance Driver (how would you like to have an ambulance driver with bad breath leaning over your face and breathing on you), and consecutive awards for Loudest Siren in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, and 1984. In 1985, my ambulance was vandalized, and the siren destroyed, or else I would have been a lock to receive the award that year as well. By 1986, I had a new siren, but a sneaky competitor lowered it a notch while I was carrying a patient into the hospital in an attempt to steer business in his direction, but the judges of the Loudest Siren competition were tipped off, the competitor was disqualified, and I started another streak of Loudest Siren awards.

This is only a very sketchy, far from complete list of the many achievements credited to me over the years. Because so many people are interested in the complete list, I have collected them all, complete with photographs of all the awards, citations, medals, and trophies, in a new book titled Karl Reburg: The Accolades Just Won't Stop. (Hampsgreen Press, 678 pp., $37.95) I urge you to obtain a copy of this important book from your local bookstore so that you can compare the qualifications of your ambulance driver to my qualifications to see if your driver has what it takes to get you to the hospital should that need ever arise.

In summary, I have received 12,576 awards, 3,890 citations, 5,803 medals, and 1,925 trophies over the years, not to mention 674 miscellaneous acts of recognition that do not fit into any of the other categories. I know of no other ambulance driver who has been recognized in quite the way that I have been, and I doubt that you are aware of any other such person either.

Therefore, I believe that I am uniquely qualified to issue the following assertions on grunge. Too many people who are injured-- many gravely-- are wearing grunge. I am so saddened when I have to help lift poorly-dressed people into an ambulance. Some reason must exist why so many people who are injured happen to be wearing grunge. Coincidence? It's hardly likely! Further, in all the years that I have been either an ambulance driver or attendant, I have never been called to a cemetery. Could this be because the residents there are better dressed? After all, most of those in cemeteries are dressed in either a suit and tie or a long dress or skirt. I am firmly convinced that this is no coincidence either.

If nothing else, remember what your mother told you about wearing clean underwear, "in case you are hit by a truck." This sound advice should be applied to all clothes, especially those that can be seen. One day, I may be lifting you into an ambulance, and you don't want to be embarassed by grungy clothing-- or maybe decent clothes will keep you from needing to be lifted into an ambulance. Just ask those in your local cemetery-- living proof of my postulations! Thank you for your attention, and may all your days be grunge-free.

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