Friday, May 2

Skidding along the edge

Well. I did it again. Came close to the edge and dodged death again.

The first time I remember doing it was my first year working at Kings Dominion. I was headed to Richmond for a preseason weekend of work at the Mason Dixon Music Hall and left a little later than planned and ended up in dark driving rain. Rolled my mother's 74 Superbeetle. When it stopped rolling, my foot was on the dashboard. Oh, that's right...beetles got no dashboard. Leg was out where the windshield was supposed to be. What saved my ass then? Seatbelt. And back in those days I was horrible about wearing my seatbelt. Still not as good as I should be... I walked away. Pretty much unscathed.

Another time, I was in Canada. We were headed from Canmore to Banff to pick up one of my Canadian brothers from work. It was October. I had just arrived that day and moronically was wearing shorts. Anyway, black ice...spinout...come to rest against the center barrier. Figuring, "cosmetic damage" and about to get pointed in the right direction when the truck came up over the same hill where we had hit black ice. And so...he's headed straight toward us skidding along the same barrier we were on. All I could say was, "Johnny, get us out of here." Stupid, right? Like he has a magic wand? But all of the sudden, the truck jackknifed to the other side of the road, up on the jersey barrier on the right shoulder. Double trailer. The gas tanks by the cab blew just before it slid past us. No one was injured. The truck burned for 4 hours. We were stuck on the side of a cold highway for a very long time (unable to reach the brother in Banff, who pretty much had figured we were goners hearing reports of wreck and fire on the highway. didn't help that he was at a bar during the wait.) But once again, walked away. Still pretty much unscathed.

And it happened again yesterday. That train derailment that happened in Lynchburg? I was there. Front row seat. Glad we hadn't opted to eat out on the deck. I think I'd be in therapy if I had watched it that close. Instead I was with my co-workers from Rush Homes at a farewell lunch for an awesome volunteer who helped us through major transition. We had just finished lunch and handed off payment to our lovely server Nicole (who I loved at Jazz Street Grill and still love at Depot Grille) when we heard strange train noise. If you dine at the Depot often enough, you get used to the sound of trains passing by. I don't think it is possible to have lunch without at least one train passing. Unless you're on the deck when the brakes are squealing...eeeeek. But this sound was just weird, and sudden. And then I think there were some thuds and I looked up and saw the look on the faces of servers standing by the window at the kitchen. Something was seriously wrong. Seriously. So you stand up. You look out the window.

You see tanker cars. Not where they should be. And tangled. And on fire. And black smoke. And you think, "what the hell?" And somebody a shade more able than you says "go. get out of here. just go. now." And people go. And nobody is trampled. And nobody is screaming. They are just going. But you lose track of the people you were with. And you head where your logic tells you to go. And then you can't find the person you thought you were with. And you look at the cars and the flames and wonder how long they can withstand that heat before they blow. And take everything you can see around you out. Including your dumb ass crouching behind a car, taking a couple of cell phone pics - because, why not? Something to identify your body with.

I shifted perspective there - because that is what happened at the time. All of those times. I step outside and see this incredible thing happening around me. And I know there isn't a damn thing I can do to change the outcome. So, there I was. But they didn't blow. And we got away. Once again, I walk away. Pretty much unscathed.

There may be something I need to examine here. I can tell you...yes, I felt the heat. It was like a bonfire. (the train conflagration, not that I am headed to hell. no matter what some of you may believe!) And yes, I was unsure what the next minutes, or seconds would hold. But, nothing happened to me. Sort of.

I'm headed to the beach where I will ponder these things.

I think I must still have something I need to do, or learn in this life. I know I've blown through at least 3 of my 9 lives. Maybe 4 or 5...

Could have been a different day today, but it isn't. Just another incredible story to tell Alex Trebek when I finally make it on Jeopardy.

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