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The Scent Of An Ambulance

My shameful desire to view accident scenes.

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If something is best left unseen, I must see it. My curiosity is raw, defying all aspects of decency. With a mere glimpse of flashing lights, my pulse quickens and my eyes dilate. Someone's either sick, crazy, or has done something really bad. I must obtain the details.

If I'm on foot, my course of action is clear: move toward the scene with an exaggerated air of nonchalance, hoping there's still a commotion when I get there. Driving, the situation is more complicated. Usually I try to get past the cars ahead of me, turn onto a side street, and approach from an unobstructed direction. "Get out of the way, you idiot!" I mutter to the driver ahead of me. Far too often, he remains indifferent. I end up like everyone else, directed away by some control-freak police officer.

Codes are yet another enticement.

At the gym, when somebody gets sick or hurt, a code is announced. Let me be clear: I do not want anybody to get sick or hurt. But, if it's fated to happen, can't I just be there? I wouldn't interfere; if anything, I'd stand ready to assist. Too little air? I'd turn up the fan. Blood? I'd hand over my sweat towel. I'm not even asking to be involved in every code; I'd happily settle for one out of three.

In my basest moments, I'm a walking "Lord of the Flies." If everyone was like this, civilization would unravel. Hospitals, clogged with eager onlookers, would have little room for medical personnel. JuJuBee's would be sold at accident scenes, and smart phones would come out with disaster locater applications. Binoculars would be worth their weight in jewels, and before anyone knew it, Quentin Tarantino would be elected to Congress.

Scary notions, all. But think: If I find myself on a stretcher, you are invited to gape.

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