Something extraordinary happened to me two days ago. I wish I had my phone to record it and post pics but it seems fitting that the words tell the story.
I’ll never forget May 21, 2009, 8:30pm. This post is a break from the industry commentary and thoughts that you’ve grown to expect (and love) on Digital Hello. It’s about always remembering that every moment is a gift and your life is yours to do with it what you will. You see, today is another day I can spend with my wife, family and friends. It could have been the day of my funeral.
So, I’ve set the stage. Keep reading and you’ll know what happened to me, the amazing people that helped, and the way I’ve been profoundly affected both personally and professionally. My overall lesson. Phrases like “I should”, “I wish”, “if only I could”, are no longer in my vocabulary. I’m sharing this because, who knows, maybe we can all learn a few things to make life special.
I’d just spent two very productive days with a client in Syracuse, NY and was headed back home to London, Ontario along 1-90 (amazed at how used to the 4.5 hour drive I’ve become). Along the way I stopped by the Premium Outlets and bought a few things including a kick-ass Under Armor hoodie and a nice leather jacket for my wife (outlets are great :)). Happy with the crazy deals and full from an over-mayonaised tuna sandwich from Subway I hit the highway to finish the long trek. Somewhere near Rochester, where you’ll find a Mobil service station, I saw it.
I was rolling on cruise control in the Buick Allure I’d rented from Enterprise Rent-a-Car when I came up over the slight elevation in the highway and was faced with tractor trailer tire debry. Now I’m no rookie on the highway and I’ve seen broken tire pieces before but this was different. The debry wasn’t off to the side or in one lane, it was like a minefield. I moved to avoid one big piece only to be confronted by another and BOOM! The biggest piece of tire head-on, taking out my tire and smashing my windshield. I tried by best to keep control of the car as it careened across the highway toward a massive metal structure. I thought, “if I hit this thing I’m a goner”, so I steered away and prayed. Next thing I know I hit something and felt the car flipping before I crash landed, hands glued to the steering wheel. I was in shock, and thankful that nothing came through the windshield. I kicked into survival mode, turned off the car and tried to open the door to get out in case there was fluid leaking and the worse was yet to come. What happened next was a story of the goodwill in all of us, and “assholeness” in some.
I tried to open the car door only it wouldn’t open, so my thinking was that I must be trapped. I look through the piece of unshattered windshield and saw two men running towards me. I realized that the car was laying on its passenger side so I pushed the door harder to fight gravity and started to crawl out….ya, imagine what it looks like seeing a car skid, flip, and smash then seeing a guy emerge from the top unscathed.
Great bystanders: Are you ok? Anyone else in there? Are you sure you’re ok? Really, are you ok? Man, wish I had a camera that was amazing. That shit should be on YouTube. Are you sure you’re alright? Wow, you’re superman. That was crazy. I called 911 they’re on the way.
Me: Ya, I’m alright I think. A little shocked. I think my adrenaline is going. Wish I grabbed my phone so I can call my wife.
In a nutshell, the car was totaled. But I came out all good. Got checked out by the very nice EMTs who were looking at me in disbelief. Blood pressure was high but nothing broken, alive and thankful. True to what they said, the shock wore off and the soft tissue stiffness in my neck and back had set in, but after I got home I had some x-rays, checkups, and a physiotherapy assessement and I’m all good!
Thank You…to most…
Thank you to the Mobil service station attendant that along with truck driver Juan Ruiz ran to help me. Thank you to the EMTs that made the situation easier. Thanks to the tow truck driver and fireman who did their job.
Thanks to the NY State Trooper for showing up…and trying to “protect” the state from a guy that hit something in the road and was lucky to be alive. It amazes me how some people work toward the right thing in any situation while others revert to ‘I need to do my job and protect my interests and those of my boss”. Can’t wait to read your accident report, but glad Juan was there and gave an eye witness account of what he saw making sure you didn’t screw me. So officer, don’t worry I’m fine and I’m not going to sue your boss. My reward is being alive.
Juan was cleaning the lights on the front of his tractor trailer when he heard a loud bang. He turned to see a Buick skidding across the highway, smash into the grass embankment, flip twice, land vertically straight up in the air on its fender, then crash down on the passenger side. He called 911 and started running towards the car.
Juan, I’m not superman, you’re the good guy. Juan helped me understand what happened and told the real story to the trooper. He stayed on scene and made sure I was ok, and then gave me a ride in his truck to a hotel in Buffalo so I wouldn’t be left by the roadside (again, thanks for asking officer!). Hope you buy that truck and your dreams come true. Enjoy that kick-ass hoodie!
People are inherently good.
And above all, thank God for blessing me to remember that each day is a gift. For again showing that people are inherently good, and for giving me the gift of life to live my dreams, be with family and friends, and pay if forward.
If you read all this, wow. Thanks for caring and hope you take away any lesson you may. May lessons? Live life, work hard, and have fun. If you’re not happy then get happy….and help others in need as you never know when you might need the help.
Oh, and buy a Buick Allure. That thing is a tank and saved my life (not to mention the smooth drive and couch like interior…glad you’ve keep it around GM!)
All the best,