His most recent escapade was a typical example. He recounted this story to me with his usual nonplussed expression and an air of slight disbelief that these scenarios seem to happen to him with alarming regularity. His self effacing demeanour makes me howl with laughter but when you sit back and reflect what actually happened here, there is one very lucky chappie walking around this evening with an angel sat on his shoulder. I've had my brother's permission to share this story with you.
So, he's driving along an extremely busy main road out of Birmingham centre, accompanied by two young members of his team when one of them exclaims and asks my brother if he noticed the man lying at the side of the road. Looking back in his rear view, he sees that indeed, a man is slumped on the kerbside. Quickly parking his van, he runs back to where the poor guy has collapsed and notices that his head is dangerously close to the gutter. Close enough to be hanging over the kerb stones. It being obvious that he is in an incredibly precarious position with articulated lorries and double decker buses thundering past, he pokes and prods and shouts to him and tries to glean a response. Unfortunately the man is completely unresponsive and still; so much so that my brother initially thinks he may be dead, however further checks prove that he is in fact still breathing steadily. People have been walking past during this time, their heads turned away in embarrassment. Knowing that he has to move him away from the kerbside, he guides one of his lads to assist him in lifting the man. It becomes apparent that the man is incredibly intoxicated. The pavement is too narrow to simply lie him down. They remove him from the roadside and lift him into the back of the van cab. He is at this time still uncommunicative with his eyes tightly closed, but otherwise appears to be unhurt.
My brother quickly drives him a short distance to one of the local police stations. He goes to the front desk and explains what has happened to the
My brother: "Mate - can you give me a hand, I've just picked someone up from the side of the road, he's badly intoxicated and incapable and is a danger to himself and others"
Policeman: "Has he committed an offence?"
My brother: "er... I couldn't tell you. He's spark out in the back of my van"
Policeman: "Well you'll have to take him to hospital then".
My brother: "Thanks for your help mate"
He drives another short distance to a local rehabilitation centre where two nurses come rushing out once they hear what has happened and help to bring the man (we'll call him 'Bob') around to at least communicate with them. After he is violently sick, he seems to sober up. He is alcohol dependent and had spent the previous night in the local hospital. My brother recounts to him what has just happened. Bob starts to cry and becomes extremely humble, hugging my brother tightly and thanking him over and over, through waves of alcohol fumes and spittle and sloppy kisses.
Then he notices the nurses. He turns to one of them and says "You're beautiful"
Then he turns to the other and says "You're not bad - but she's BEAUTIFUL"
The pretty nurse blushes. My brother grins and says - "He's not lying, you're beautiful!"
The pretty nurse turns crimson.
An ambulance turns up together with two policemen, who couldn't believe their colleague's reaction at the station.
Bob turns to my brother and thanks him again. "Let me take you for a pint" he slurs.
"I think you need to sober up first mate" my brother replies, before getting back into his van and driving off towards his next job.
"Thank goodness for people like you", I say to him after he finishes regaling me with his tale.
"Ah it was a good life experience for the lads" he replies.
I wonder where 'Bob' is tonight and whether he's thanking the 'angel on his shoulder' or whether he's forgotten his experience already? I wonder how many people had crossed the road to avoid dealing with him, either from embarrassment or indifference?
What would you do?
In the words of a popular children's hymn from my dim and distant primary school days when they were teaching us the merits of 'The Good Samaritan' - It's probably the only remotely religious teaching I can remember. "Would you walk by on the other side, when someone called for aid, and would you walk by on the other side and would you be afraid?"
I'm sure there will be more tales of derring do at some point in the future.