The Worst Kind of Failure

I tried to save someone´s life and failed.


This happened more that one-and-a-half years ago and involves a lot more people than me but I’d like to keep it personal.


Thing is, I don’t like to fail (does anyone?). I hardly ever do. If I’m not sure I can do something, I won’t, or I’ll practice in secret until I’m sure I can pull it off. Like speaking Spanish. I refuse to speak Spanish until I can produce a grammatically correct sentence that’s more than tengo un gato en mis pantalones. Even though I might have, in fact, at the moment of writing, a cat in my pants.


Trying to save someone’s life, though, is not exactly something you can put off until perfection.  If you ever need an example of a scenario where you would just jump in and give it a shot, this would be a good one. The chances of failure are spectacularly high. It is possibly the worst kind of failure you could think of.  And of course that’s what happened.


The short version of this story begins like this. Two guys went for a swim. There was a rip current. They got separated, tired and drowned.


It ends with me escorting one dead guy to the clinic in a tiny, conservative-Islamic Malaysian fishing village in nothing but bikini bottoms and a tank top.


What prompted me to write this story today is that I went through my stuff and found the sarong a kind villager gave me to cover myself up because there’s no excuse, really, to wander around town half naked even if you’ve just tried to perform CPR on a person who was slowly turning blue and dying and nothing you did made a difference and it took fourty minutes for the ambulance boat to arrive which is too long what else can you do then to drag their 100kg body from one boat into the next and keep pumping until the ambulanceguy tells you to stop?


What else could we have done?


Nothing. I know rationally that he was probably already dead by the time it was my turn to give CPR. Or at least suffered irreparable brain damage. But what can you do? It’s not exactly my call to decide after fourty minutes that it has been enough, is it?. I can tell you one thing: it is really fucking fucked-up to stop giving CPR to someone, even though you know there is no point.


Because there would always be the question ‘what if’. What if I would have continued.


I like to learn from my mistakes. There is no lesson that can be drawn from this, except maybe make sure you’re always properly dressed in case you need to suddenly transport a dying person to town, which is stupid. Or maybe that in some cases you have to just keep trying, pushing, pumping until someone else pulls the plug. Or that in the light of the worst kind of failure, everything else is not so bad. As long as nobody is dying, everything will probably be OK. 

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