Arts & CultureNeighborhood News

Notebook Recollections

Local staple Tim Rumsey walked to work most days from 1987 to 2000. He began as a form of exercise but kept at it for his love of local lore harvested through his interactions with people on the street. He began documenting his musings and eventually filled 53 pocketbooks with his observations. Here is just one tale. 
By Tim Rumsey, MD

March 1998:
I heard loud noises from the clinic lab. Furniture tipping over, glass shattering. People shouting and crying.
Dr. Ravi and I ran down the hall to the lab waiting room.
A large print of Monet’s Water Lilies hung crazily from the wall. Triangles of glass stuck straight out from the frame. A wild looking young man hoisted a chair over his head and flung it into a corner. Then he bent over and started sailing glass shards into the lab where three techs crouched behind a corner. The remaining patients scattered out of the area.
We didn’t recognize the fellow.
Ravi talked calmly and quietly. He asked the guy to sit down for a second.
He sat down.
We sat on either side of him. He rubbed an index card-sized piece of glass back and forth against his neck. He laughed. Then, he yelled!
Ravi and I put a hand on each of his arms. He seemed to calm down. I motioned for the lab people to ease away.
Dr. Macken rounded the corner and stopped suddenly when she saw us.
The guy jumped up and side-armed his piece of glass at her as hard as he could. It just missed her face, shattering on the wall behind her.
Dr. Macken froze in place. Ravi and I stood up alongside the poor guy. He gave Dr. Macken a Charles Manson stare. He gasped deep, heaving breaths. Dr. Macken started to back up and he lunged toward her. I tackled low and Ravi tackled high. The guy spat and bit and flailed about. We finally pinned him down. He bellowed and shouted as he kept spitting and snapping.
Dr. Macken called 911 from a wall phone, but help was already on the way. Four paramedics charged into the lab waiting from one entrance point, and three police officers from another. Ravi and I held our human straight jacket positions. Dr. Macken told as much of the story as she knew.
As two cops readied to exchange spots with Ravi and me, the guy took a sudden roundhouse swing at one of them and missed. 
Together, police and paramedics got him up and buckled onto a stretcher. Off they went to United Hospital Emergency. One of our residents met them at the door.
Ravi and I washed off the spittle. I tried to straighten the bent frame of my glasses. Ravi pinched his ripped shirt. Dr. Macken asked if we knew what was up?
Ravi remarked that basically it was not your ideal doctor-patient encounter.
We found out the young man was a new patient scheduled with one of our nurse practitioners for a mental health visit. When his name was called from the front waiting room, he pushed past the nurse and ran down the hall ending up in the lab. 
As it turned out, Tex – one of the best cab drivers in West 7th history and a beloved patient – had walked up to the clinic while the melee was happening. He threaded around a paramedic van and a fire engine, two cop cars, an unmarked squad and a horse patrol mount. And he was particularly keen to mention a Cossetta Pizza delivery vehicle.
“I heard the pizza guy talk your fellow down,” Tex said to me.
True. We hired him on the spot!”
“By the way,” Tex asked, “What kind of pizza was it?”

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