Another day at work

Two days ago, a student was stabbed in front of my school.

Fortunately, the wound was not too serious. Given that he was stabbed in the back of the thigh, it was quite a relief. One of my colleagues and I had just gone out for sandwiches. We did not see the whole fight, but we heard a cry (well, she heard it; it seems my brain doesn’t even register individual sounds in Marseilles anymore), and there he was, clutching his bleeding thigh and walking supported by two guys I didn’t know. There was blood all over the place, on the ground and walls of the school. That’s hardly the worst part.

The two guys were yelling at passers-by who dared to stop, including those who tried to take out their phone to call for help. They slapped one across the face, and it’s lucky it happened to be one wise enough to walk away without letting the situation escalate, otherwise we would have had a fight on our hands on top of things. Perhaps they didn’t dare yell at teachers, however, because they let us phone an ambulance while other people from the school struggled to keep the situation under control. Eventually, they started to walk away. We had to wave at the ambulance from afar so they could catch up with them. And all the while, they yelled at people not to call the police, not to call the boy’s parents, or anyone else–and they were so busy doing that they didn’t once check on their mate. The only thing I can think of is that the boy was very lucky the knife didn’t reach his femoral artery. With that kind of escort, be would have bled to death before anyone managed to reach him.

I’ve registered to take a first aid class in a couple of weeks. I’ve meant to do it for years; now I don’t see how I could pospone it anymore. Next time, the wound could be far more severe. There could be no one around with a charged phone. But if there is a next time, there’s one thing I won’t know how to handle: two screaming bastards who don’t want an ambulance called in case the police arrives as well. How do you go about fixing that? First aid is all well and good, but sometimes what one needs is training in dealing with bleeding arseholes–and I don’t mean the medical kind.

On Friday evening, my boyfriend and I watched a recent Homeland episode, which included a character yelling at people because he didn’t want to be taken to a hospital so as not to call attention to himself. How do we get rid of that culture, that still tells people that it’s best to handle things yourself without drawing the attention of the authorities? I’m quite aware that these boys didn’t make a fuss because they got the idea on TV. I understand they must have been in a difficult situation in the first place (I’m only guessing, as we’re not certain what caused the fight in the first place). Still, ideas don’t come out of nowhere. It’s bad enough that some people are so scared of the police they will do anything to avoid them. Should we really add a layer of heroic TV characters fixing things on their own?

Yesterday we had dinner with friends. We met some of their new colleagues there, and I mentioned the incident at some point. Some of them reacted with horror. Some of them acted blasé, saying that if they didn’t want an ambulance, there was no point in trying to call one anyway. I didn’t argue, even thought that was one of the silliest things I heard all week. It was obvious that for them, the incident had no reality. It was just another way to show their jaded and cynical side to the world, to show they weren’t put off by mentions of teenagers getting stabbed in front of their blood. Well, not to sound self-important, but as far as I’m concerned, I wasn’t put off even though the blood dripped on the ground right in front of me. And I’m still horrified. How can you make it a point of pride to be jaded about that sort of thing? How could I, when I now know that next time, I might be the one who has to put pressure on a knife wound before it bleeds out?

And when, holy fucking when, will people stop thinking it’s manly to act like violence is just a normal fact of life we have to deal with and shut up?


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