Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Running Toward the Bomb

I am the guy that heads straight into danger when most everyone else runs away. I don't do it to make people like me or dislike me that is just the man I have become. Why do I stop for a guy changing a tire in a pouring rain on a dark night? Why do I run into the burning building? Why do I say and do things that that others won't?
When I was 15 I was a life guard at a local pool. A ten year old boy who I had seen there a few times left the pool and got on his bicycle to go home. He drove down the hill and out of site. Just then from the pool we could here the screech of a car brakes and then the collisions and a deafening scream. I couldn't see but I knew what had happened.
Some one shouted he has been hit by a car, get the lifeguard, he needs first aid. Many adults stood at the fence looking out. One mother with small children looked at me and said you need to go help. So I jumped off the stand and ran down the hill. A crowd had formed around this small child as he lay crying in the middle of the road. None of them dared to approach him.
It was my job, I was as much as told so but what I learned in Boy Scouts and from the Red Cross did not prepare me for this. He was slumped over a mangled bike his leg broken in two places, blood flowing from his side, head and hands.
I tried to calm him down. I pulled him from the bike and helped him straighten his leg. I removed my shirt and used it to put pressure on the wound on his side, the most critical issue I could see. Then I sat there and held him and talked to him, not really knowing what to say but wanting to keep him conscious until real help arrived.
The ambulance arrived, the real care takers took him from me. They splinted the leg, cleaned his wounds and treated him for shock. Someone told me I was a hero, a few others applauded as I made my way back to the pool. I looked around and most never left the pool deck. The ones that did were merely spectators, curious or otherwise. I felt terrible. How would I know if he was okay, I was not sure if anyone knew his parents or how they would know where their child was.
Someone pointed out I was covered in blood. At that moment I went from hero to almost getting fired because of what I did next. I jumped into the pool.
The mother that had told me "I needed to go help" screamed for me to get out of the pool. She grabbed her children and rushed to tell my supervisor that I had turned the pool into a septic pond.
From that point on I knew that no matter what good I did in life there would be someone that could make it all disappear in a moment. Someone who sat by being both commander and critic but really did nothing of value to improve anyone's quality of life but their own.
I didn't care. That boy needed me. I was there when no one else chose to be.

Six years later I became the boy, I had an accident, crushed by an overturned forklift, my pelvis broken in eight places, my leg dislocated with my foot dangling in front of my face. A crowd gathered round as I screamed and bled from a hole in my back. A man who was with me on the forklift had been thrown clear but he was hurt as well. He could of laid down but he got up. He cared for me until the ambulance arrived. There is more to the story but what matters here is this: the man, my hero was also the driver of the the forklift. It was not his fault it tipped over. It was an unavoidable accident. There were people that wanted to crucify him. They made him feel bad when he should have only been glad he could help.

I have been the hero. I have been the victim. In neither case did I feel like it was my choice. The only person I never want to be is the one who doesn't act but judges those who do. At times I ruffled a few feathers and maybe I meant too. I have made the choice to live big, to say and do the things that many only dream, to be the guy that runs toward the bomb.