I never saw such respect for old people

Tereza VrbováPrague
Bohous is my sister’s husband. At the moment he works as a bus driver, but when my sister first met him, Bohous drove an emergency ambulance. His encounter with a Romany family, described in the following story, took place in those days.
I had to make quite an effort to get this story out of him. Bohous is not exactly what you’d call garrulous. Whenever I approached him with a request for some story he beggedoff, saying that he didn’t know any.
I’d given up on him, and didn’t even think of asking him again when he came to my birthday party in Pruhonice. After lunch I began telling everyone about the new friends and acquaintances I had made during my work on our project. Suddenly Bohous took over and started telling us a story about an ambulance call he had answered several years before.
"One day when I was still an ambulance driver there was an emergency call from Zizkov. We had to get a move on: they told us that the patient had difficulty breathing.
When we arrived at the address we’d been given we saw a bunch of Romanies in front of the house.
I thought: ‘That’s just what we need! I wonder how long it’ll take us to get any information out of them.’
But the moment the Romanies saw us they started waving and signalling for us to stop. A moment later we were whisked upstairs – though without the stretcher: it wouldn’t fit into the narrow corridor.
The patient turned out to be the mother of one of those men. Her son must have been a Gypsy baron or even their king, because everyone obeyed him and you could see that they held him in high esteem.
They directed us to the flat and while we were still on the stairs they explained that their mother was ill and that we had to help her. All of them called the patient Mother and they seemed to be very worried about her. When we arrived in the flat the doctor started attending to he. He gave her an infusion and injected her with something or other. I don’t really remember what was actually wrong with the woman.
The room was crowded with people but everyone stepped aside so that we’d have enough space for our work.
While the doctor was busy with the lady I had a free moment and looked around a bit. The flat was luxuriously furnished and very tidy.
There were several Romany men in the room. Some of them might have really been sons of the patient. It must have been a very rich family because most of them were wearing heavy golden necklaces and massive signet rings.
When the doctor had finished we improvised a makeshift stretcher from a bed sheet and carried the lady into the ambulance. Everyone followed us downstairs, making sure that their mother was well taken care of.
By the ambulance they asked us where we’d be going with her, and we told them that we were taking her to the Vinohrady hospital.
A moment later we were on our way there, with the hooter on. In the rear-view mirror I could see all the Gypsies getting into their cars and rushing after us. They were driving like the blazes, but couldn’t catch up because we didn’t have to wait at traffic lights.
When we arrived in the hospital we checked the patient in. No sooner had we done so than we saw the Gypsies arriving and inquiring after their mother and her doctor, wanting the latest news.
At that point we had to get back into the ambulance and leave. But later the nurses told me that the lady had survived and made a good recovery.
Throughout her stay in the hospital she kept receiving plenty of visitors and was flooded with presents.
As an ambulance driver I answered plenty of emergency calls before and since but I never saw such respect for old people on any other occasion.
To tell the truth, people quite often didn’t even ask us where we were taking their parents.”

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