We found him laying on the floor, on his back, in the hospital near the cafe. A group of people surrounded him, telling him to stay down and not move. He had an air of authority, but there is strength in numbers, and when you have a herniated disc that moved out of place you don't have much choice but to listen.
Lucky for him, yours truly showed up with a few years worth of herniated disc experience. A quick look and brief consultation was all it took for me to put the torture device also known as the backboard away.
"Please," he pleaded. "Let me do it."
We let him do it. He did it exactly like I've done it when it happens to me, slowly and excruciatingly. He sat on the stretcher, lilting to one side and let out a breath, wincing as he did so. The assembled medical staff looked on disapprovingly, shook their heads, made some snide remarks about immobilization but let us work.
Eventually we moved him off the stretcher and into a wheelchair where he adjusted himself the best he could. Hospital security forbids transporting emergency patients through a tunnel that connects the buildings, so I wheeled him right out the door, and down the ramp, and onto the sidewalk, then across the street and up a different ramp and into the ER. I'm getting a bit cantankerous in my old age, I think.
Turns out he was the district manager for the cafe, in great shape and incredibly appreciative. Turns out I had planned on visiting his cafe, albeit in a different location, to get a coffee and maybe a bagel. He insisted I go back to where we got him, they wanted their wheelchair back anyway, and he wanted to thank us by buying us breakfast.
I did the usual, "we'll have none of that" routine, but this was a man used to bossing people around, and he had no problem ordering us to take him up on his offer.
So I did. And it was a darned good breakfast, and as always a nice cup of coffee. And the price was just right. And every now and then sticking it to the man and his rules feels great.