Friday, February 11, 2011

remember that day I got hit by a truck and a train?

So, I almost died yesterday. Yeah - just like that. Almost never got to see my family or friends again. Almost never got to see my house again, play my guitar again, drink a beer again, flirt with a girl again, rescue a dog again. I almost became one of those tragedies where not only the parents, but the grandparents outlive the children/grandchildren.

The physics of the situation is actually a little complex (there's a video at the bottom that may better explain), but here's the nutshell version:

My buddies, Kevin Kazlauskas, Jeff Snider and I were on our way over to East Nashville for a run with a few other guys. On the way, we got stopped at a railroad crossing on a busy road that doesn't have drop bars...only flashing lights. It was bright enough outside that we almost missed the flashing lights indicating that there was a train coming. We stopped, but a semi-truck coming from an awkward angle into the crossing missed the lights. The back end of the truck was still on the tracks when the train went through. It smashed the trailer of the truck the whole way across the intersection into the drivers' side of the car that we were sitting in.

I watched the whole thing happen. In fact, the last thing I said before the train hit the truck was, "Wow, that's going to happen." Now, I'm not exactly a stranger to subtle, and not-so-subtle near-death experiences:

One time, a buddy of mine accidentally hit a glass Snapple bottle with a soccer ball. I got hit in the neck with the cap after it shattered. Upon closer examination, part of the bottleneck was still in the cap, and it was nothing but sharp shards. It was one revolution away from severing my jugular.

Then there was the time Ricker and I were driving "a little over the speed limit" on a windy road back home. We lost control of the car and eventually landed in a creek.

Those both happened so quickly I didn't know what happened till it was over. This, however, happened quickly, but it went slowly enough that I actually had time to know what was going be afraid. I'm glad to say that my adrenaline-infused mind over-estimated the weight of a semi-truck. I knew it was going to hit my seat RIGHT on the money and thought for sure Kevin and Jeff were either going to look back to see half the SUV ripped right off with me nowhere in sight...if they were even conscious. At the very least I expected to be mangled, broken, or wake up in a hospital bed...if at all.

The whole thing felt like a clever game of mousetrap, and I was the mouse. I felt like I was caught in the trap and there was a sledgehammer coming down to seal the deal.

Truth be told, I think my biggest fear is helplessness. I'm a big believer in "it ain't over till the fat lady sings," and if I'm in control, I can at least go down fighting. That wasn't the case yesterday though. I was trapped and was subject to whatever physics felt like dealing.

Jeff, Kevin and I walked away unscathed. After dealing with all the politics, we actually drove Jeff's mangled SUV over to the park and went on our run anyway. That's when we began to speculate on the "what if's."

That truck was full of raisin bread. What if that truck had been full of something heavier? What if it had been a fuel truck? What if we hadn't seen the flashing lights and were on the tracks as well when the train went through? What if it had been a car full of women? What if there had been a child involved?

I gotta tell you - I'm so glad I was with those guys. About ten minutes after the accident, we were out joking with people about the raisin bread all over our car and the intersection. We took videos, pictures, updated our facebook statuses with pictures, and gave somewhat whimsical interviews to the news crews. Then we went and processed together during an hour-long run, during which we looked much deeper into what just happened. We actually talked the first half of the run, then spread out a little and were silent for the second half. I think we celebrated life.

Hey guys - remember that time we got hit by the truck that got hit by a train? What a day...what a day.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Lola Louise

It's been a busy week+, which I guess is somewhat evident in my lack of online presence.

Sunday morning, I woke up to get ready for my annual Super Bowl party that happens here at Castle Stoner. While I was brushing my teeth, I heard a "banging around" on my back porch. In my neighborhood, we've got our share of stray cats, possums, birds, squirrels, and other wildlife that don't really have much sense of boundary. That said, I'm not unaccustomed to hearing these types of noises on the back porch.

I ignored it for a few minutes, but I eventually realized this was a bit more of a clatter than I'm used to hearing. I glanced out the door and saw a little dog who was almost literally knocking on my back door. She would knock at the door for a while, walk around the house to cover the exits, then head back to knock on the door again. I'd never seen this dog before, but she was acting almost like one of my friends who came by to see me, but was not content with the, "go away, I'm asleep" response.

I came to the sad and difficult conclusion a few years back that I just can't save them all. My plate is pretty full right now, and this would not have been the first dog I've taken in. Knowing what a responsibility that is, I agonized long and hard about taking her in. I think it was Gandalf [Optimus Prime, not Gandalf - Thanks "Angry Asian"] that said something to the effect of: "Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing." I decided to meet the East Nasties for our Sunday run, and if she was still there when I got back, I'd put food and water out...I'd be committed.

Well, darn it if she wasn't sitting in the back yard looking expectant when I got back - I guess I respect that kind of persistence. I sure had to work hard to get her to come to me, though. What's crazy is that this isn't the first time a dog just showed up at my house and wouldn't leave. It's like they know where I live.

I named her Lola Louise. She just looks like a Lola, and she has a bit of a bull dog-like "wheeze," so I added Louise since it seemed to flow so nicely. Anyway, with some help from my friend, Marie and a few others, Lola now has food, has been vaccinated, will be spayed next week, but has sadly tested positive for heartworms.

Even with some serious generosity on behalf of some fellow dog-lovers, I just have to admit that I'm stressed. There's a long road ahead for Lola. My friends and I are going to fight for her though. Why? Because she's about five years old, and it doesn't look like anybody's been on her side for a LONG time. Because she came to my house for whatever we consider to be the driving force behind fate. Because she is sweet as candy and deserves a chance. Because she gave me one.