Talking Out Loud!: Why Experiences Frame Our Response to the Unexpected

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“There is no such thing as an accident- it is fate misnamed” Napoleon

The problem with being unprepared is that things happen when you least expect them to happen.

It was a very hot summer afternoon in San Bernardino, California and I waited in the van with the children while my wife went into the store to return something. I turned the engine off and rolled down the windows while the kids were complaining about hot it was. I zoned them out and started reading the newspaper. My peripheral vision picked up a middle aged lady who got into her Mercedes and tried to start it. I subconsciously noted the “ruh ruh ruh” of an engine trying to start. When this lady got out of her car with a screwdriver in her hand and lifted the hood, I thought to myself that maybe she knew what she was doing. I stopped reading the paper, the kids stopped complaining and we intently watched her open the hood and take the screwdriver she was holding and fiddled with the engine. All of a sudden the engine started and the car started moving forward pinning her against the wall of the building where she was parked. She fell forward into the engine of the car and started screaming.

Disasters and problems occur when we least expect them. Five minutes earlier I did not realize I would have to go into action to help save a woman’s life. Without thinking, I jumped out of the van and ran to the woman. My quick assessment told me that this woman was pinned by a car which was in gear and I had to get her away from that car. In the panic of the moment and her screaming resonating in my head I ran up beside her slammed my back against the brick wall of the building and put both of my feet on the hood of the car and started pushing as hard as I could to help free this woman. Can you imagine counteracting the forward velocity of a car in gear with just my legs? I pushed as hard as I could. The children were now out of the van and watching in horror. I hollered at them to go and get their mother.

I was not getting anywhere with moving this car. I took a deep breath and gave it one last push. I was able to barely move the car back enough for the women to fall out of the way onto the ground. I jumped out of the way and ran to the car and turned the engine off. The woman was crying hysterically and her legs were badly bruised where she was pinned by the car. People ran out of the building and called an ambulance.
The EMS personnel advised that she came very close to expiring but she would be fine. They thanked me for my assistance and one responder asked me, “Why did you do what you did when all you had to do was turn the engine off?” The simple answer was that I don’t know- I panicked and focused on the woman screaming instead of doing a quick initial assessment.

Napoleon Bonaparte once stated,
“There is no such thing as an accident, it is fate misnamed”. Of course, I do not know why I was parked at the very place where this stranger would need assistance and I still can’t reconcile why I did not simply walk to the car and turn of the ignition. I guess it is what it is. Life experiences- they teach you how to do it correctly the next time.

2017-02-22T15:11:10+00:00 February 9th, 2016|Uncategorized|