Everyone stand back, I’m a chef
This morning on the L train a woman collapsed at my feet. In my iPod-cocoon I admit I only realized this as I saw commuters’ faces looking at the floor near me. I’ve seen other people faint on the train before (must have something to do with the motion), but this time I was impressed by the reaction of the bystanders. Almost immediately and without a leader to delegate, individual tasks were assumed by the commuters in the immediate vicinity. An off-duty CTA worker jumped on his cell to contact the line operator, the person nearest the intercom alerted the conductor, the woman next to me stooped down to hold the woman’s hand and comfort her, and a doctor knelt down to figure out what was going on.
At least, we thought he was a doctor. I mean, he had a white coat and a badge and looked very authoritative. As I looked closer I saw that the white coat was the double-breasted kind that chefs wear. (He had it unbuttoned which made it look more like a lab coat.) His profession was confirmed by the kooky pants chefs (and bodybuilders and MC Hammer) sometimes wear. What was I going to do, interject “Hey wait a minute this guy’s a chef! And probably a line chef too! Back off, pal!” Would he take her vital signs with his meat thermometer? Dab her sweat with his toque? I just stood back, mentally blogging (hey, I needed a role too) and thought about how both wonderful and somewhat frightening it is that initiative counts for more than expertise in matters of leadership.
We transferred the woman, who we learned was pregnant and probably suffering a blood sugar dip, to trained medical personnel at the next platform.