December 03, 2011
by Stephen Jan in Elizabeth, NY
The Ambulance Launch Party weeks ago had us zooming from New York to Philadelphia to Brooklyn to Washington DC and back up to Philly. With three events crammed into 36 hours topped off with a trip to Washington DC to meet the Salif Keita Foundation, the weekend was long.
The Timbuktu Challenge Benefit Show at Connie’s Ric-Rac in Philadelphia started at 7:30PM. I’ve never spent much time in Philadelphia but apparently parts of South Philly looks like New York’s Little Italy, complete with mafioso lookin’ locals. Anyway, Mike, with the support of friends and family put together a awesome show complete with comedy sketches, film shorts, and a raffle.
Toward the end of the event a yuppie looking fellow, who just happened to be there handed me two one-dollar bills and one five-dollar bill and said to me “Here ya go man! I support what you’re doing!”. The girl whom he had his arm around called out to me as they turned “Oh don’t mind him he’s like that. He’s in finance!” I was confused. I didn’t understand if she was saying that finance people are generous, stingy or have a drinking problem. Oh well, 7 dollars to the charity can’t hurt. But I must say I felt a bit like a pan handler.
Dennis and I departed Philly at around 3:00AM, arrived in New York at 5:30AM. By 12:00 noon Saturday we were at Brooklyn Fencing Center to start a fencing tournament. The Timbuktu Challange Fencing Tournament was attended by elite fencers and beginner fencers alike. Participants hailed from Egypt, Puerto Rico, and England. Winner got to drive the ambulance and top four finishers earn mystery prize from Africa.
The post tournament party was running smoothly until at around 11. My teammate came to me and told me that this guy is in bad shape. I didn’t really get it. I walk over to the other room and found “this guy” sitting slumped over a folding chair murmuring to himself in his Scottish English next to a pool of vomit. Apparently a visitor from Scotland had taken it upon himself to consume a full bottle of American whiskey, citing that the real stuff was in the Highland of Scotland. No matter where the alcohol is made, it all takes you to the same place eventually- piss drunk. And since he was here by himself, it was up to us, the organizers to deal with him. I wrestled him up and pulled him outside to get some air. Once outside, he vomited again, stumbled around and fell to the ground, breathing heavily.
We spent the next 30 minutes unsuccessfully trying to get him to tell us which hotel he was staying. We resorted to calling 911. By the time the EMT arrives, he was covered in dirt, had a brusie on one side, and a cut above his left eye – no doubt form rolling around on the pavement. Anyway we spoke to the EMT at length about the situation: foreign drunk guy, don’t know where he’s staying, completely unresponsive to questions. The EMT responded: “Wait wait wait, how come there’s an ambulance already here?”
After explaining to the EMT the Timbuktu challenge, they hauled him away on a stretcher and we drove off in the ambulance. The night ended at Union Pool in Williamsburg. During our walk back to the ambulance, we caught a hipster tagging our ambulance with a sharpie. Mike was first to notice, first to scream at the kid, and first to take off sprinting at the perp. I stood there confused. Dan stood there a also confused. Mike followed the kid into a motel before letting him slip away down up a stairwell. We all returned to the ambulance and started wiping off the sharpie pen mark with goo-gone. As we furiously scrubbed away, “Chops” the graffiti artist came back. Amazing, you’d think that he’d just run home but no, he needed to come back to us and explain that he’s a graffiti artist that lives on the streets, and had lunch money taken form him while he was in school. After wiping the mark off, shooing “chops’ away, we were on on way back to Manhattan for a short night sleep before we headed down to DC the following day to meet the Salif Keita foundation.