It was impossible not to hear this girl yammering away on her cell phone across from me. And yet, I couldn’t say that I was comprehending any of it. She was as banal as she was loud, and her mindless chatter was nothing but white noise that harmlessly, but annoyingly, clattered on the outside of my eardrums.
That is, until she dropped this line:
“Psssh! Emergency, shmamergency!”
We have no way of knowing what she was talking about, but I do know this: you cannot shma an emergency. That word is un-shmaable.
When you shma something, you’re dismissing it based on your personal view of it’s relative value. In effect, this woman was projecting her narrow judgment of what an emergency should be onto this person’s situation. How can she do that? She didn’t know what the other guy was going through. He might have been hanging off the edge of a cliff for all we know.
On the other hand…cliff, schmliff!
If somebody tells me something is an emergency, I’m going to go ahead and just believe them. What’s the worst that can happen? Maybe they’re fucking with me and nothing’s wrong. Okay. How about I’d rather get fucked with than catch a case. Have you ever seen or heard a judge throw up his case papers and say, “Oh, manslaughter, shmanslaughter!”
When you have people going around claiming true emergencies are shmamergencies, it’s a scary thing. If her laissez-faire attitude toward emergencies permeates popular culture, where will it end? 9-11 operators answering frantic calls with Schwarzenegger soundboards? Doctors saying, “Prognosis? You’re a bitch.” Or maybe first responders designing a new type of vehicle for situations they deem un-EMTworthy called the shmamergency vehicle:
Two fake paramedics will pull up to a heart attack victim in a black van, get out and automatically flick off everyone on the scene. As the crowd begs for help, they’ll say, “Oh okay, we’ll flip on the siren,” only to reveal a bullhorn that blasts Wang Chung. Finally, as the victim makes a last ditch gasp for help, they’ll confess that the only real training they have is in the art of improv comedy. They’ll finish the visit off with a spirited game of “What Are You Returning?” over the dude’s dead body.
My point? If somebody tells you they’re in an emergency, don’t shma them. Better to take the most safe, logical course of action: blow into the phone to create the effect of static, tell them you’re losing the signal, and hang up. Immediately shut your phone off and go to the movies.
Only when you’ve seen the movie, and it sucks, will it be safe for you to use the shma treatment.