The topic I was asked about writing on this time was "Life Changing Events". Well that got me to thinking...whose life? I mean, there could be a room full of us who experience the same event and it only really be "life changing" for a percentage of those people. Our realities are both fluid and subjective, dependent upon our individual perspective.
Sometimes that life changing event occurs without you even realizing its impact upon your life. It may not be an occurrence but a distinct absence of one that institutes the change.
So I thought I'd take a different road and screw up the grading curve here. How's about I write about a life changing non-event then? That should be fun for everyone, right?
I don't expect to win this little writing contest because I reckon I'm making up my own rules about non-events as I go. But I just can't help myself. So here goes, hang on for the ride folks. Arms and legs in the train at all times. Safety first.
I remember it like it was just now and I'm writing about it. It was a chilly morning and I'd wanted to sleep in but I couldn't because I had work to do. So I resigned myself to get up early and get started.
I got up, got ready and went into the truck stop for my daily coffee. Among the truck stops I feel Flying J has the best so I'd parked there overnight. This way I could get some decent coffee to get my day going. Without my coffee I don't seem to think clearly. I remember thinking that just before everything didn't go wrong.
Half hour later I've checked in with the shipper and I'm backing up to their dock. Being a flatbedder this feels unnatural. Usually we get loaded from the side or by overhead crane. Bumping docks is what the "other guys" do. We flatbed drivers think that like we're some kind of special but we aren't. Unless by "special" we mean not smart enough to limit our manual labor in a job that has "driver" in the title.
It took them all of twenty minutes to get the load on my trailer. Less than half that length of time later I had it strapped down. Only thing left to do was put a 6 foot tarp on top of it, bungee that down and get my paperwork. Pretty simple process which I had done countless times before.
Only this time they brought me out a ladder to use. I'd never seen a company do this before. A ladder? To tarp? Ok, sure I can figure out how to do this their way.
That's when it didn't happen. That's when I didn't almost die. I didn't climb up a 12 foot ladder with 85 pounds of dead weight on my shoulder.
I distinctly remember not having that ladder slip out from under me on that angled dock. The world sliding out from under me as I felt myself hang in the air like a coyote who's just overshot that clever roadrunner. Weightless for a split second before gravity remembered its job. The side of the trailer, 5 feet or so below me, the only potential barrier between me and the ground.
I barely missed it on my way to the cement, hurtling head first like an errant meteor. Throwing my hands up (or down as the case may be) to push the man made stone away from my face, I definitely didn't feel the impact or hear the multitude of breaks as I connected.
When the ambulance didn't show up and the EMTs didn't put me on the gurney I wasn't realizing that I'd nearly just died. At the hospital they didn't take X-Rays after the doctor said "oohh, that's broke" as he pointed to bone that tried to displace where my wrist had been.
After determining surgery was going to be in order to repair 10 breaks in the right hand alone, there was no panic because I knew none of this was happening. I knew it was all just a bad dream brought about by eating hot wings too close to bed time. None of this was real. I'd wake up any minute now in a cold sweat.
At 39 years old I hadn't just been informed that there was a chance I'd lose the use of my right hand. I definitely hadn't just been told that I may be permanently disabled even though I was the only source of income for my family of four which included 2 boys too young to even start school yet.
This was clearly a non-event created by my sleeping mind to teach me a lesson. To make me realize that life can end in an instant by something as insignificant as a fall. A non-event that not only changed my life but could have ended it, thereby changing my kids' lives forever as well.
In reality there were 6 months of intensive therapy to regain enough strength to hold a pencil, much less be able to write again. There were epidural injections of steroids for the cracked discs in my back and talk of surgeries to fix them.
In reality this event could have ended differently. I could have chosen to tarp the load the way I always had and thereby not fallen. Or I could have clipped that trailer on the way down and been paralyzed or killed. Even the fall alone should've killed me. But it didn't. The fall was an actual event. Dying was a non-event.
Each minute choice or action leads to another. That ladder slipping was a single factor caused by other variables yet we don't focus on all those minor details but only on the larger picture. The consequence of our choices is only because on the intangible decisions. There is no single, cataclysmic act but only the result of the smaller ones. So be mindful of the steps you take today for tomorrow you may not be able to change them.
Would it have affected your lives? No, because you didn't know me. Ironically, among the serious of events I've not considered "life changing" is this blog that seems to entertain so many of you. Our realities....fluid and subjective.