Note: While I’m on vacation, please enjoy this lightly edited, previously published column.
The card in my wallet says I can save a life.
Tucked snugly between a buy-one-get-one-free sausage biscuit coupon and a scrap of paper with an unknown phone number that may have been vitally important at one time is a card - laminated - certifying "the above individual has successfully completed the national cognitive and skills evaluation in accordance with the curriculum of the AHA for the Heartsaver AED Program."
In short, after three hours of instruction I successfully inflated the dummy's chest and didn't break the portable defibrillator.
Heck, I'm dang near a doctor now.
I earned that certification because someone higher up on the corporate food chain determined it would be a good idea for newspaper employees to learn some lifesaving skills, possibly after responses to the hypothetical question, "What would you do if Steve keeled over in the newsroom?" ranged from, "Contact the obituary department" to, "Steal the stapler off his desk."
The proper response, of course, is, "Try to save his life because we need that city council story by 6 p.m."
I and several others received comprehensive training on how to perform CPR and shock someone back to life with an automated external defibrillator (AED), though it apparently never occurred to anyone that a middle-aged man with a high-stress job and a family history of heart disease would more likely be receiving the shocks than administering them.
In truth, I should have someone with my newfound skills following me 24-hours a day with an AED strapped to his back, ready to shoot the juice to me when I see a headline about "PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION" in the that day's paper and someone left the "L" out.
But, in the unlikely event that an unfortunate person in my department other than me falls over dead, I am fairly confident I can bring him back to life.
I envision the scenario going something like this:
"Look. Steve's on the floor and he's not moving."
"Nudge him with your shoe."
"I don't think he's breathing."
"He still owes me money from the NCAA basketball pool! Somebody do something! If only someone here had a laminated card in his wallet that certifies he has successfully completed the national cognitive and skills evaluations in accordance with the curriculum of the AHA for the Heartsavers AED program."
"Here's my card. Stand back and witness a miracle, people. You! Bring me the automated external defibrillator. No, that's a fire extinguisher. No, that's the stapler off Steve's desk. It's that thing we were chasing each other around the office with the other day. Yes, that's it. Come on, Steve. Come on."
"We’re all lucky to have you here Scott. As your immediate supervisor, I would like you to know your skills are amazing."
"Amazing enough to warrant a raise, sir?"
"Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Scott. Steve isn’t out of the woods yet."
"True. It’s no time to discuss this company’s repeated failure to reward my good work with an exorbitant salary. I've got to save this man's life. Come on, Steve. Don't you die on me! DON'T YOU DIE ON ME!"
"Scott, it's over. He's gone."
"It's not over until I say it's over! I need more juice, stat! Whatever stat means!"
"My god, he's breathing! He's moving! He's paying me the money he owes me from the NCAA pool! Scott, you did it. You saved Steve’s life."
"Oh, I'm no hero. I'm just a man with a laminated card in his wallet that certifies he has successfully completed the national cognitive and skills evaluations in accordance with the curriculum of the AHA for the Heartsavers AED program. Now, boss, how about that raise?"
“ Sorry, that’s not in the budget. But for your quick action, you can have the stapler on Steve’s desk. Now, back to work. That city council story isn’t going to write itself.”
Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, NC and a humor columnist. Contact him at email@example.com