Valium Vickie

Monday, December 30, 2013

Just Another Successful Heimlich Maneuver

I saw a guy get the Heimlich once. I was eating lunch at this Thai restaurant when, out of nowhere, this guy just started turning blue and flailing his arms around to let everybody know he choking. It was an absolutely terrifying thing to watch ... for the most part.

But I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a small part of me that was like, "Really? This guy's going to this pull this shit right now. I can't believe he's choking during my lunch! I've been waiting all week for this Pad Thai. (Side note: Pad Thai is essentially the General Tso's of Thai food: It's something even the most unadventurous person can order when he wants to try something foreign, and it's something waiters at Thai restaurants expect white people to order.) 

Let me be clear: Only a very small part of me felt this way. When this guy started choking, something like 85% of me was like "Oh my God! Somebody's gotta save this man. I wish I paid attention when they taught me to do the Heimlich in fourth grade." But 15% of me was very much annoyed and inconvenienced at the fact this man was ruining my lunch because he didn't know how to chew properly.

Photo courtesy of

The dude sitting across from the choking guy wound up doing the Heimlich, which is a good thing because none of workers even attempted to approach the table when the guy started choking. The waiters just kept aggressively filling up people's water glasses as if a customers with half-filled waters would be far worse than somebody dying during his meal.

The Heimlich guy's demeanor was downright remarkable throughout the entire life-saving incident. He calmly stood up, pushed his chair back, put his napkin down on the table (I have a picture of him daintily wiping his mouth before placing the napkin down, but I'm not sure that actually happened) and just went to work. I'm no expert, but it looked like textbook Heimlich to me. In fact, he was so calm throughout the entire ordeal that I'm convinced this wasn't the first time he actually had to do it to choking man.

The whole Heimlich thing couldn't have lasted more than a couple of minutes tops, but it's still a very unsettling thing to watch, mostly because it looks completely inefficient. If you didn't know what the Heimlich was, you'd think the person doing it was wrestling somebody who had tapped out already.

In this case, it worked. Somewhere between five and 20 thrusts, choking man spit out this huge chunk of what I'm guessing was Pad Thai. (Choking man was a very, very white dude in khakis with some type of corporate ID badge.)

I'm not sure what's supposed to happen after a successful Heimlich maneuver, but I'm pretty sure it's not what happened at this place. The two men at the center of the incident, choking man and Heimlich guy, went right back to their meal like nothing happened. No acknowledgement; no "Everything's OK. You guys can just go back to what you were doing." In fact, choking man dove right back into his dish with such veracity that he must've been thinking about finishing his meal the entire time the rest of us thought it would finish him.

Then, there was the chunk of food choking man spit out onto the floor. Nobody thought it was a good idea to dispose of the hunk of food that was left behind after the successful Heimlich. It just sat in plain view, an ominous reminder of what could happen to if we don't chew our food carefully enough.

I spent the rest of my lunch trying to figure out what should've happened. The way I saw it, there should of been some type of public acknowledgement by the choking man. I expected choking man to at least give us, the concerned/partially annoyed spectators, some type of an embarrassed wave or humorous explanation, so we knew the danger had passed and everything was A-OK. Had that happened, we'd all rise, one by one, to applaud Heimlich guy for his heroic efforts.

And then there was the staff. Not only did they completely ignore a customer while he was choking, they also didn't go over to talk to the man after the ordeal was over. They acted completely oblivious to the situation the ENTIRE time. I wouldn't be surprised if a choking fee was even added to the table's bill.

I don't think the owner, a gruff man somewhere between the ages of 60 and 103, even looked up once from his spot behind the cash register during the choking incident. It was as if he knew business would be fine regardless of what happened to choking man. Sure, had he choked to death right there, it would've made the local news, and business may have slowed down for a week or two, but that wouldn't last long. Eventually, the owner knew, the lunch crowd would be back, because he has the best Pad Thai around, and white office workers will always return to a place with good Pad Thai.

As for me, I was just pissed choking guy was able to go back to enjoying his meal despite the near-death experience, because I never was -- at least not the way I'd imagined. And I'd been looking forward to that lunch since Tuesday ... that selfish son of a bitch.

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