I live out in the country in Texas, and the other morning I was taking my dog for a walk when she heard a cat meow and jerked the leash so hard that it twisted and cut my wrist. I bandaged it up, but it hurt something awful. Instead of going to my regular doctor, though, I decided to stop at a “doc-in-the-box.” The nurse there needed a medical history before they could do anything about the wrist.
One of the questions surprised me. “Have you ever tried to hurt yourself?”
“Of course,” I said. “Many years ago. I’m a writer. My life’s an open book.”
Then the doctor came in to treat my wrist. The cut was ugly and deep. Having read my medical history, she asked, “Would you like to start seeing a counselor?”
“Sure.” I told her I’d had a great one in Lubbock, but she and her family had moved away.
“Well, I happen to know some therapists. A couple of them might be a good match for you. Do you mind if I make some calls?”
She was gone a long time, and when the door re-opened, it wasn’t her. It was two emergency medical personnel.
“Follow us,” they said.
“We’re taking you to the hospital.”
“We have to. It’s the law.”
Outside was an ambulance. They insisted I get in. I told them how much I admired them for the work they did, but I also told them I wasn’t about to go to any hospital with them. I didn’t care what they said.
“If we don’t take you, the police will.”
So I told them to go ahead and call the police. I wasn’t going with them, either. And that’s what I told the police when they arrived. It was not a pretty scene. I’m afraid I used a little profanity. But then my older daughter stuck her head into the ambulance. She told everybody she was a social worker at the hospital and that she’d just take me there.
All parties agreed, and on the way, I asked her what this was all about. She said she’d gotten a call from the police saying that her father had been injured in a dog fight, and that he might hurt himself and his ex-girlfriend.
“Are you sure it was his ex-girlfriend and not his ex-wife?” she said.
“Yes, and we need to talk to her. Can you give us her address?”
“She lives a thousand miles away.”
I have never thought of harming my ex-girlfriend or my ex-wife. But I did go to the hospital. I just didn’t check myself in.
The next day, when I told the whole story to my Pakistani primary care physician, he howled. In retrospect, though, it wasn’t all that funny. My dog tried to chase a cat, so I had to go to the hospital. But if I’d been walking down the sidewalk with a fully loaded semi-automatic weapon, Texas police, because of Open Carry, couldn’t have required me to do anything.