The California Stop

I want to talk to you all about something important.

The future of our world.

Ok wait, let’s rephrase, how about the future of America? Nope, nope, nope that still paints to broad a stroke.

Hmmmmmm???

The future of our youth and the direction our country may or may not be headed towards with them at the helm?

No, that comes off as narrow minded and degrading…

WAIT! I got it!

The repercussions associated with adults living and raising our children in the grey area created by society’s ignorance towards methods of the past?

Shit! I just can’t seem to get this one right!!!! Not usually my style to lack on words or the ability to use them.

Let’s try this another way, through a long, drawn out explanation.

Now before all you youngsters either hate me, understand me or feel the need for a safe space to sort out your feelings please understand nothing has changed over time when it comes to what I am about to tout. Only the players and the landscape for which they played the game. Life is cyclical and my hope is we are on the precipice of change. You old timers such as myself I hope will get this instantly!

The other day while driving through town I found myself yelling at another vehicle from the helm of my galactic beast! After 37 years driving semi-trucks, pickups, cars and oh yeah Fire Engines, with all that experience I think I have earned the right for a holler or two! I love driving, always have since the day I took the family tractor for a joy ride. Even with all that, I really only have a few pet peeves when it comes to the rules of the road and it drives me insane when I see others breaking them.

First and foremost let’s just get this out there, I am a certified serial speed offender! I hate going slow, I loathe going slow, I mean I really detest moving at the speed of stuck! But with that being said and placed so effortlessly on the table let me ensure you the minute I cross into any city limits I am Johnny law jr. I don’t break the law, I drive the speed limit, I use my turn signals, hell I even stop for pedestrians in the cross walk!!! Yup I am that guy. Living law in the grey…

So where was I, oh yes, the other day a certain individual in a newer blue mustang rolled hard up on the stop sign, and at no point even attempted to bring his 350 horsepower pony to a full and complete stop! Rolling right through as if the big red sign that said STOP on it was merely a suggestion, this idiot completed the perfect, textbook California Stop! Of course he glared at me as though it was some form of inconvenience that I was waiting my turn, being on the right of another vehicle per the law. Yet in truth I believe the glare was more of a fuck you. He knew he was more important than I, he knew he was more important with more important places to be than any other person so carelessly sharing the asphalt with this asshole and he knew he was an asshole and just wanted make sure I and everyone else knew he was an asshole. (Secretly I just like saying asshole)

Staring at this hellish, lame blue piece of shit for which the owner obviously cherished more than his wife or significant other, with its mirror like shine, extra loud pipes and fancy wheels a question flashed through my head! Crass and obnoxious as a teenage boys lifted Chevy Silverado rolling hard and loud with childish straight pipes and oversized 44’s I slowly pondered!

Where the hell did the California stop come from?

I remember (fade away music and fuzzy picture is appropriate right now for my flash back) back as child in the 70’s we were taught to obey the law, respect the law, and to fully understand that if you broke the law there were in fact very dire consequences! You acted respectfully to those who represented authority and from that respect you earned it in return. A very simple, easy to understand logic that ruled our little place in the world. Ahhhh Mike Brady would have been proud. (Look him up young ones)

It was simple really, here let’s do a short recap. Don’t break the law, doing so has consequences, show respect and earn respect, live life with no worries. See! Easy!

I’ll never forget the day my dad slammed on the brakes in his old orange ford sending me to the floorboard (easy youngsters there was no seatbelt laws in the days of the Flintstones) and screamed at some guy about his “California Stop”!

California Stop what the heck is that dad? I questioned.

That is where you roll up to the stop sign, then proceed without coming to a full and complete stop. It is against the law son. It is named after us Californians because we supposedly are self-important and have places to be which keep us from obeying the law because we are above that! (Ok I’m para phrasing for the love of god I was like 8 or 10!)

Being the semi- inquisitive type, you know; only when it suits me, it became my mission to watch for these California Stoppers. There were not that many upon a first hard round of observations. Dad said it was because the fine for running a stop sign was steep and it took points away from your license so people feared that happening. Of course being recently adept at earning a million points on my Atari playing Pitfall I couldn’t even fathom losing one damn point, let alone several! The thought left me paralyzed with fear!

But hey, we have the law, the good old fashioned black and white, dealt out swiftly by your friendly local police officers, order and tranquility, points earned and points lost, so straight forward and yet confusing at the same time law.

As I became 16, obtained my driver’s license and set out alone in the family station wagon, I was always terrified of breaking the law, in specific the act of running a stop sign. Not stopping for the full and correct 3 seconds or creating a sense that forward motion had in fact come to a halt was a death sentence for me. I always looked both ways and spent a considerable amount of time clearing intersections while ensuring the law was properly followed. It was easy really, and the only times I ever saw the law in my rear view mirror was either for speeding (grey area, GREY AREA!!!), being out after curfew or when I was once mistaken for inhabiting a truck hauling some burglary suspects and we (my friends and I) were all pulled out and sat on the curb like criminals! The grey area that time wasn’t the law it was my pants and they weren’t grey!!

Ok I am droning on, so anyways, as the years went on I began noticing people were increasingly no longer stopping at intersections all the way! Over a ten year period it slowly became the standard, I mean everyone is doing it right? Just up and keep going! Only stop if there is a light and even then on right hand turns people started to roll those too. I couldn’t figure it out! What was changing and why was it changing? We need law and order, we need civility, we have laws for a reason, to not have laws and obey them leads to all out anarchy right???

Then one day, I was in my early thirties, I too rolled a stop sign, oh I had been doing it forever (bandwagon jumper), everyone does, nothing ever happens so my friends say, which I always found hard to believe and yet here I was motoring on when Johnny Law slipped from a side street and lit me up all red and blue lights an shit!

My heart was racing, what had I done? As he walked up the side of my old Ford, I already had paperwork in hand but for the life of me could not figure out what I had done. I wasn’t speeding, I know I stopped at the intersection (California stop denial! its real check it out!), maybe a tail light was out yeah that must be it.

Rolling down the window the officer took my information, told me he would return and after what seemed liked hours as rubberneckers gazed upon my scarred and shadowed soul cast so darkly under the glow of blue and red rotating police lights. They (rubberneckers) all slid by as close and slowly as possible. Bastards! I just knew they were laughing inside the comfort of their cars, making snarky remarks while calling me every name in the book! You could see it on their smug condescending faces!!

The police officer came back for which I produced my best Ill kiss your ass smile. While handing my paperwork back through the window he then explained I had in fact rolled the stop sign at the intersection behind us. My father had taught me to always be respectful towards authority so of course I didn’t dare challenge his findings in regards to my driving ability. Oh and you know I stopped, I stopped hard, the hardest stop anyone had ever stopped since the dawn of vehicle stoppedness!

He kindly thanked me for being so polite and explained (because of my skilled Eddie Hascal impression) (kids look that one up too) he was letting me off with a warning. Please never run another stop sign again. Ahhhh wasn’t that sweet???? So nice of him to recognize pure sincerity when he saw it.

From that point on, as the years passed by I started noticing other things as well. People no longer moved out of the fast lane, choosing to camp there much like a Memorial Day weekend, staking their claim and not budging no matter how hard you pressed them! There were people passing on the right, all the time, as if it was safe! I mean last time I checked that was labeled the slow lane and the left was the fast lane and oh my god I feel as though I am in Bizarro land! Also people tailgating! Whatever happened to a minimum of three car lengths between you? It feels as though with some people they are so far up my ass I am expecting colonoscopy results at the next red light!

The world is definitely going insane! No one IS following the rules of the road any longer!!! The stop sign became merely a suggestion, a set of turn signals is now apparently an option on all vehicles, and I mean it must be because maybe 10% of people can either afford them or are using them while operating their car! Semi-trucks are given no room for stopping, red curbs are for parking because let’s face it, it’s only a few minutes and what the odds the fire department is really going to need that spot! Speaking of fire departments, hydrants are now all the rage to park in front of as well! They really make your car pop! While parked on the street!

Also a trend has formed with the invention of social media. Now you don’t just complain to your friend or neighbor, you start an outright media campaign over every injustice ever committed by anybody, anywhere, anytime!!! No matter how stupid!

NO JOKE! I once saw the same man on a very public forum bitching about the lack of police presence in his neighborhood to handle those unruly teenage speeders, suddenly change his tune and begin complaining about the piece of shit cop who gave him a ticket for parking the wrong way on his street! His statement was that he was only in the house for a minute so he shouldn’t have gotten a ticket!!!! He was parked the wrong way! It’s not even a grey area, it is against the law!! What the hell is wrong with people??

(Cue heavy thinking) Hmmmm????

And right there, right there and then ladies and gentlemen of the jury it came to me.

Much like the moment I realized Santa Clause was not real, or expiration dates on food are for a reason! The second I fully understood the pull out method was not a viable option for birth control, or the real reason the pretty gal in Vegas “liked” me was not because I was funny or good looking but because she felt there was money involved.

Yes it hit me like a truck, slapping my face harder than the moment you knew your drug dealer was a narc because he had ALL his teeth!

The California Stop is to blame for all our nation’s problems!

You see we now completely live in a vast grey area brought about by the California stop. We have gone from a law abiding society to near anarchy. It began with us slowly accepting the California stop as a way of life. A social identity, and once we did that other aspects of travel law began to fall, and with that we taught our children through our own failures that as long as you don’t get caught it is ok. This of course traversed into other manifestations. You know the mindset, well if he got away with it???

And so on, and so, and so on..

The California stop has ruined all our lives. Go anywhere in the world and they know what the California stop represents and where it originated. It is the bane of our existence, the precursor to all our problems and much as the entire world believes that if you are a Californian you are a surfer, you live within walking distance of the beach (because although long the state is roughly only ½ mile wide) and you are a Democrat. The California stop is of your doing, it is your legacy and the world has every one of us Californians to blame! Don’t worry they are blaming us and hating us for many other things as well so don’t feel too bad.

So please, I beg of you all. Stop at the stop sign. 3 full seconds! If you can do it consistently then maybe like monkeys in a UC test project others will soon follow, mimicking your obvious love for safety, rules and standards. Then before long everyone will be stopping, cars will begin using turn signals again, people will start waving hello to each other as they pass, much like a Sunday drive about of days gone by.

And with just a little luck.

Kids will no longer get trophies for participating in real sports or soccer, parents will start reprimanding their children without fear, safe spaces will no longer be needed, people will have hope, laws will once again be followed creating a brighter future for all and some guy in a Mustang will no longer be known as an A-Hole by some other guy with way to much time on his hands to think about this shit. But instead he will be admired as the owner of a really bitchin car….

Oh fuck, ok I can’t go that far, who I am kidding, he was driving a newer mustang for Christ’s sake! It wasn’t like it was the wholly grail of mustangs the GT500 or a Hertz special, hell he wasn’t even in the ball park of a 67 fastback, Mach 1 or the California Special! Bahahahaha naw he’s still an A-HOLE in a poor man’s Camaro!!!

But hopefully you all get my drift…..

 

 

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Breaking up is hard to do.

It is the hardest thing, saying goodbye. You prepare, practice, dive deep into the bowels of empathy but it never ends up coming out right. Tension and fear, cold sweat and a rapid heartrate all bring about more anxiety as the moment comes to fruition.

Divorce is a bitch, but sometimes things, no people change and with it their thoughts and opinions. I know that sounds absurd in today’s current climate of he said, she said, so it must be set in stone for eternity, but really people do change and with change thought processes. My thought process has definitely turned a corner. As I have aged so has my ability to recognize other options, opinions, accepting a differing point of view and not being ashamed for changing my mind on numerous topics I would have previously chosen to die upon the cross for.

I am not sure exactly the moment it happened, the moment I fell out of love with her. I am sure it happened gradually over time, the both of us going about our days without any recognition other than a need. Me needing her, her needing attention. Yet we kept on day after day with little more than a passing moment where things were actually working in sync, otherwise nothing but needs never being met were the norm.

It is sad when things digress to nothing more than need. A relationship is a two way street, and this street was constantly bumpy, broken and hurt. Over time it became more about what I could give with no reciprocal return. I gave and gave and gave and more than once I became stranded. Whenever I tried to fix things everything just seemed to get worse.

My father taught me a relationship like this takes serious maintenance and elbow grease to keep running, and that’s exactly what I gave it from my point of view and yet it was all in vain. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much love I showed her, no matter how many times I went out of my way to purchase whatever she needed, things would run smoothly for a bit an then this relationship would inevitably be left high and dry on the side of the road. Feelings hurt, tempers high and ugly words no one should ever hear spoken aloud.

We had some good times, no we had some GREAT times together. Camping, fishing, boating, trips to the coast. Many memories I will share and hold dearly for the rest of my life. All I need to do is close my eyes and there she is, ready to go, beautiful as always. She just had a way about her, especially in red.

But that’s all behind us now.

After 29 years of loyalty we have parted ways. It was tough, I hated every moment of it, yet my tears have dried, as I know it really is the best for us both.

Last week I said goodbye to Ford Motor Company and purchased a RAM 3500 Cummins Diesel as the main ranch truck. Not sure I can afford her yet but she is shiny, silver and to be quite honest this relationship seems to be off to a great start! I know we are in the early everything is coming up rose’s portion of this relationship, but WOW! I am….

Wait, what did you think I was talking about????

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Time for a holiday drink?

Black Friday has come and gone leaving those of us who remember Christmas of old wondering why, and how we as a society ever allowed ourselves to believe this consumer orgy was ever ok. Every blogger under the sun has pounced upon Black Friday so don’t worry there will be none of that today. It was merely a blip on my mind leading to another topic dear to my heart.

My entire blog for the last two years has been devoted to my lovely awesome wife Ms. Jacy. When I started this blog it was about family, fatherhood and the joy associated with raising children. Instead much like a Sunday goulash (only older people remember our parents making that little tasty number) it’s combined many facets of our life. I am thankful for all of you who faithfully follow my writings and the kindness you have shown is flattering to say the least. But today, if you will allow me, I am going to step away from Ms. Jacy (please keep reading) and return to why I began this writing exercise in the first place. Fatherhood.

As I stated, Black Friday has come and gone which leads us officially (Wal-Mart be damned) into the holidays. Friends, family, co-workers, festivities and wonderful Christmas parties await us around every corner. It really is the most wonderful time of year and for many it is anticipated all year long.

Including our kids.

Over the last few weeks several conversations have arisen between myself and other parents in regards to underage drinking. With the holidays approaching and school soon to be out it appears to be an even hotter topic. Don’t be fooled our children are participating whenever and wherever they can. It is disturbing how easily it has become regardless of rules, laws and such for our children to actually obtain alcohol. Thus a serious problem lies and the temptation is no less for my child as it is for yours.

Those who read my blog and have known me since childhood also know for me to speak out about underage drinking is akin to the pot calling the kettle black. So let’s set up a little history.

I began drinking at 13. It was easy to acquire, just hit the old man’s Black Velvet stash and replace with water. (Yeah I know the kids think they invented that trick but it’s been happening for generations) As I became older it of course was a rite of passage for many parents who condoned drinking and had done so feverishly as kids to pass that legacy on to their children and friends, so obtaining alcohol was no big deal. Of course the “rule” was you don’t leave whatever property you are on while imbibing, but that rule was never followed.

Everyone has an argument as to why they drink/drank. Either to be cool, fit in, hide from something or someone in their lives or just because. I drank to fit in, I also drank because I was very unhappy, drinking allowed me to open up, act the fool with no repercussion and pretend to be something I was not. As we grew older the alcohol grew in quantities and the locations in size as more and more young people like myself congregated to our little gatherings. Whether up on the mountain, cruising in the next town over, down in the sloughs or the backyard of some approving parents’ home we partied and we partied hard. Laws be damned!

It all sounds glamorous doesn’t it? Fun, fun and more fun! We were young, we pretended to be adults as the image of alcohol portrays and we survived or at least most of us so what’s the big deal? Right?

Somewhere between my sixteenth and seventeenth year at a party my consumption reached the limits of my body. To this day some 32 years later I do not remember the event I am about to describe. What I know came from friends who witnessed it and the parties involved. I have carried great guilt over this for many years and as a fireman it is what keeps me trying my hardest to keep teen drinking in the spotlight.

Having consumed way too much for some reason I decided to climb into my father’s 1963 GMC and drive home. Now once again I remember none of this, what I do remember was waking up the next morning to my father feverishly wanting know why his truck was missing a mirror and had damage to the hood, door and cab. I didn’t know. Of course being an outraged man further fueled by the stench of alcohol within my room that answer didn’t sit well. What I later learned was while driving away from the party, I struck another truck parked on the side of the road and drug it for a bit. There were people outside and it is amazing no one was hurt. Terrified of what I had done, I did what any other immature young moron would do, I lied.

It wasn’t me, how could I have done this? But it was all true and the sad thing is, instead of curbing my drinking it only pushed me further into a bottle.

By today’s standards that would have resulted in my life being irreversibly ruined. An arrest, a court date, a law suit from not only the involved but those who witnessed the incident claiming mental stress. My parents who had nothing would have lost everything! Why? Because of my ignorance, because of the ignorance of those around me, because at that age making adult decisions is not an option, let alone alcohol fueled decisions.

But it was 1983/84. A different time for sure. My father owned a restaurant in town very popular with local law enforcement and I cannot tell you how many times an officer would say; You’re Bobs kid aren’t you? I would nod yes, use my best level headed Eddie Haskell and with license back in hand head to the nearest friend’s house with a promise my 64 Chevy or my 81 Chevy would no longer be seen on the streets of town. That would never happen today!

Jump forward ten years and beyond. I am at the sight of my very first vehicle fatality. I remember it like yesterday. The car was an 84 Buick, it sat roughly 18-24 inches off the ground wrapped around a tree. A 18 year old male and 17 year old female still strapped into their seats compressed into a space of no more than 4 feet wide. I watched as life drained from their faces. Their eyes once glistening upon our arrival now flat almost sandy looking with a distant far off gaze. They say you never forget your first on scene death, the ones you just couldn’t rescue and “they” are right. Many have come and gone, some have stuck with me more than most, but your first, Yep that will be with me till the day I die.

They were drinking. They came from a party. They promised to not go anywhere but I imagine when you are in love and the car is right outside there are plenty of reasons to head off under a moonlit sky to find solace in an orchard. They were probably just working their way through that “rite of passage” we all talk about.

How about a car load of senior girls from the next town over headed home from a party? They too had all been drinking but the funny part is they didn’t cause the accident! 70 mph in the fast lane when two others jostled for position causing an accident that collected them in the process. Their car hit the medium and rolled several times. Funny thing about drinking and driving, sometimes you forget the simplest of things, your house keys, your phone, oh yeah; your seatbelt. Young ladies strewn everywhere! 3 on the ground. My patient, she received an on scene tracheotomy. It was to no avail. Her friends? All gone. Why? Seatbelts…….

Arrive at a house where the parents have been away for no more than an hour. What do they find upon entering their residence? Their underage son, angry he could not attend a party with some friends for New Year’s Eve has decided on his own to polish off the family bottle of Tequila. Yup he is a genius. When we arrive he is nothing short of the devil himself. Fighting, spitting, swearing and rapidly disintegrating as Tequila takes over his body. He was safely transported and survived, but what we learned later, just barely. He had consumed enough alcohol to quite literally walk the line of death. Why? Because News Years parties are a rite of passage! His parents made the right choice but it didn’t stop him from continuing down a very dangerous path.

I don’t want my child drinking. I know it makes me unpopular with many, but I don’t care. Drinking and screwing off cost me ten years of my working life. Drinking and screwing off almost cost me a future. Our children all have bright futures if we show them the way! The right way! Not some antiquated thinking that results in time and again others being hurt or dying! You can sit there all you want and claim you have it under control, it won’t happen to your child BUT YOU ARE WRONG!!!

Have you ever had to tell someone their child, friend or even adult friend or child is dead? I HAVE!!! There is nothing honorable, fun or even remotely great about that moment! It stays with you, eats at you, and gnaws at your soul! We walk around with our heads in the sand thinking everything will be ok, but guess what? It won’t! Not one adult parent I have ever spoken with has said; well I expected this to happen! Nope it usually begins with why? Then leads into; he/she was supposed to be at so and so’s house! Followed by I didn’t even know they were doing that! Yep that’s how it is!

This has to end. We as adults need to break this awful chain. We can keep going around year after year counting our blessing, being thankful it isn’t our child but then when we let them drink are we really acknowledging that we understand the consequences? I think not.

Every year at this time I usually post some little paragraph about holiday drinking, driver safety and hoping everyone I care for stays safe. But this year I hope by opening up about myself, my past, the future that lays before all of us with teenage children you can see, it is not up to them! Oh they bare some of the responsibility, but really it starts with us as parents. If we preach no drinking, hold them accountable for their drinking habits and hopefully do a good enough job of showing the possibilities before them without making a critical mistake we can stop or break this chain once for all.

It is our job to make the hard, unpopular decisions. It sucks! Make no mistake, there are times I would much rather be my child’s friend, but I am not! I am something much more important than any friend will ever be, I am their father.

Listen I am a realist, I know my little blog isn’t going to do a thing towards stopping this generational fueled epidemic, but please, this holiday season take the time to know where your kids are, what they are doing and help me try to break this chain of alcohol abuse. Nothing would make me happier than to never hear or witness another young life lost way too soon.

Thanks for making it all the way to the bottom of this page, I promise a cheerier post tomorrow.

 

 

Heyyyy Yoooouuuuuuuu????

 

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Nothing perturbs me more than forgetting someones name!

Oh I am sure there are many problems in this world that should truly annoy me more like; a lack of world peace, human strife, homelessness, crime, abuse, that swirling garbage vortex somewhere in the Pacific ocean, blah, blah, blah. Yet for some reason looking straight into an individuals eye as they walk right up shadowing you in their presence while ringing true your God-given name as though announcing the Kings guests, leaves me with sweaty palms, nervous eyes and a blank dim witted 40 yard stare as no inclination of vowel, consonant or combined syllables comes to mind!

This rare little encounter leads of course to a quick “cover up” in conjunction with an “investigative” phase of your conversation. You know, “cover up” with a nervous laugh, and knowledgeable grin, then let them speak for a while, hoping, praying, something, anything will jog your memory! “Investigate” every word as their stories ramble and go on! Mean while your brain scrambles, you begin arguing with yourself intensely while this poor person stands across from you without an inkling of knowledge you may just be losing your mind:

John, no, no! Jerry, Jeff, Jack, Joe ah shit, did it start with a J? Brian, Bob, Ben, Bill, Ken, Fuck! Fuck, Fuckity Fuck! He has kids right? They play with my kids right? Say something, saaaayyyy sssooooommmeeettthhing! AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH WHY CANT YOU SAY SOMETHING USEFULL, CANT YOU SEE I AM SCREAMING AT YOU IN MY HEAD!!!!!! ESP,ESP,ESP!!!!!

Shit he’s looking at me, he knows! He knows I don’t know his Goddamn name! He knows! Shit! Calm down, don’t panic,  I guess I could just come clean and ask? You know a simple; hey man I don’t mean to be rude, but I just can’t seem to remember your name? ARE YOU KIDDING ME! WHAT KIND OF ASSINIE IDEA IS THAT? It wouldn’t work, it couldnt work; the guy gave you the bro-hug when he walked up! Anyone who gives you the bro-hug is close right! Shit, shit, shit! Think!!!!!!!

Bro Hug

Oh crap what did he just say? Who cares I’ll just nod and say “uh-huh” you can’t go wrong with that right? Uh-huh. mm-hmm, Lets see, Tom, Terry, Tony, Mike? Damn! AAAHHHHHHH WHAT IS YOUR FREAKING GOD DAMN NAME!!!!!!!

Then it happens, the moment when all conversation has been exhausted, not a word has been uttered leading you to a positive I.D. and the bro-hug returns with a heartfelt: it was great to see ya man! To which you reply; Yeah, Youuuuu-uuuu Hope we can see each other real soon, take care “buddy”.  Ah God damn I used the “buddy” line! Now he knows for sure! No one uses the “Buddy” line unless they have no clue who the hell they are talking too! Man, I am a freaking tool! Pat, Peter, Paul, Perry, Perc- ah hell I give up!

As you walk away a feeling of failure overcomes you, dread holds true for the next encounter you may or may not have with this individual. All because you couldn’t remember a name that sat on the tip of your tongue like a pebble rocking gently back and forth, in then out of the waterline.  A name, a title, a series of words strung together by mom and dad to identify this particular individual to people such as yourself.  But not you, oh no you couldn’t remember it! That supercomputer we call a brain just seems to be a few micro-processors shy of a working unit on you pally! Yep you are definitely the dimwhittedest of them…… and that’s when it happens.

Tim, his name was Tim.  Sonofa……….

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Dont drive angry-DONT DRIVE ANGRY!

Can you? Could you?

 

Today, if you will indulge me; I feel as though I need to take a little break from writing about the trials and tribulations that befall a family of six living on a farm.

There have been no postings from me for a few days now because; well to be honest I have been in a bit of a funk.  Then last night it hit me, after a long conversation with a dear friend, my brain flooded into neural overload and like riding a DeLorean back through time, images once again began to appear. I don’t like it when they arrive as they do so without cause or care, but it was at that moment I realized it was time to write about them.

These images are like none anyone would ever want to see.  They haunt me from time to time and ruin just about every moment of my life in some strange way or another.  They come and go as they choose, sometimes in the middle of the day, other times late at night.  When I am asleep they wreak havoc upon my subconscious awakening me to sweat, cold and fear.  Some nights they are so real I have to walk our house, stepping into every room while telling myself; “it is just a dream.”  There are other times when nighttime dreams become so bizarre it seems they should be uses as the basis for writing a novel. As though notes should be created, characters molded and then reap the rewards of a story well crafted.  But even as bizarre as they can become I am still able to recognize the truth within their core.

As many of you who follow my blog know I am a firefighter.  As a firefighter there are certain things we just don’t talk about amongst ourselves or our family.  Or when we do we try our best to find the humor in a sad or sick situation.  Laughter has always been the best medicine and if we can find just one thing humorous about any incident we then take a moment to laugh at ourselves eventually feeling better about the outcome. We (firefighters) also refuse to discuss these “things” outside of our close-knit circles. Leaving the general public in the blind, it is done out of fear for the reaction it may evoke. But truth be told we are our own worst enemies, therefore I am about to break that rule and hopefully you will understand why in the end.

Death, dismemberment, murder, burned and injured people, the stupidity of human nature, sickness, physical abuse (spousal, child, partner etc), drug dependency, alcoholism, and the myriad of sick and twisted things human beings can do to each other and themselves. Not just once in a while, not just what is perceived as truth in the news, but on a daily basis.

We see it all, and no matter how much we try, what we see never goes away and there is nothing anyone can do about that.  Oh sure we have Critical Stress Debriefings (CSD) to help us deal with our emotions.  Everyone sits through them and nods their heads like sheep (me included), each one stating we are “OK”. We have councilors at our disposal, both through our agencies and as part of our health care package, and they do a fine job of once again helping you to understand the basis for your concern, the pattern behind your thoughts and a mental picture of how to evaluate then project the positive image you desire hoping to remedy a current mental hindrance.  But the fact still remains the same. These “things” we see never go away, burned in our skulls for eternity.

When starting in the fire service 18 years ago us probationary firefighters lined up for a presentation from our Chief.  He proceeded to tell us there were incidents we would never forget and mental pictures that would stay with us for life.  Our job was not for the weak of heart and over the length of our careers would weigh on us heavily.  As young cocky cadets we laughed that nervous laugh that so many young people do when puffing out their chests to show manly superiority.  Then afterwards we all joked around with comments like; “that will never happen to me” and “what kind of wuss would ever be sickened by blood and guts”.  Then off we went into our careers to face the unknown secretly praying we WOULD see it all! Just to prove him wrong.

And over the years I have seen plenty and it hasn’t been pretty.

Now I am not complaining by any means! I LOVE my job! It really does define who I am as a person. This career has become everything I ever dreamed it would be and there a thousands of people we have helped during the very worst day of their lives. But over the last couple of years with all the budget constraints, people losing their jobs, and money becoming tight, we (firefighters) have consistently come under attack from the general public, politicians and just about anyone who has an axe to grind. I don’t mind, what I have done, what my fellow brothers and sisters have done over the years far outweighs any mealy mouthing some politician can do. But when its the public, the very people we care about, or when its people you actually know who live within your response area and have protected for many years with pride. Well I don’t care who you are it just hurts. 

So let me move forward by saying, this job has never, ever been about money, (although I found it interesting today that a sheet rockers income per hour is double mine)it has never been about the reported “days off” even though we work almost double the reported “easy 10 day schedule” we supposedly keep.  This job has never been about the retirement. Although, never will I cower and lower my head as so many do when the topic of our supposed “Golden ticket” retirement comes up.  Like we as firefighters should be ashamed of the retirement system we fought so hard for and “hold onto your hats people”; paid for out of our own pockets! Not 100% funded by the people’s money as continually reported by those willing to throw our futures away! Yes we can retire at 50! So what! Statistics show time and again the majority of us will be dead from carcinogenic cancers, blood borne pathogens, and heart attacks within 10 years of retirement! And the majority of us won’t get the luxury of retiring at 50 anyways! It’s just an option there for the lucky few who have 30 years in by 50!  The vast majority of us will work until we are 60-65!

But even after all that, even after we have been bashed for being recliner sitting, engine polishing, self-proclaimed heroes who live off the tax payers dime! I wonder if any of them understand the little mental gift we have all been given from minutes, hours, days and years of seeing the things we see? Is there a dollar amount for that? Is there? Then I wonder while their mouths are engaged and their self-absorbed brains are frozen could they do it? I don’t mean the job, but live through the after effects? Could you? Can you? Seriously, I am not trying to be malicious or indignant or even belittling, but could you?

Can you stand in your driveway watching your son drive away knowing the number one cause of teen deaths their first year behind the wheel is vehicle accidents? Then have your mind flooded with horrible images from every accident involving teenagers you have responded to over the last 18 years resulting in death, dismemberment and sorrow, transposing your sons face upon those that perished and their ghastly outcome!  Can you sleep when he isn’t home yet? Will you stay calm when you can’t get a hold of him on his cell phone, while more images pound at your brain? Could you?

Can you board a plane without starting to sweat and sit quietly during engine throttle up without a care in the world while secretly you are observing every exit, profiling people’s personalities so you will know if this plane goes down who you will have to be very direct too while helping get survivors off the plane.  Or are you able to make the flight without multiple panic attacks about it plummeting into the ground killing all aboard.  Can you sit there and not picture a fire churning its way down the center aisle, burning people while you stay low, trying to figure out how to help? Can you?

Can you hold an infant enjoying its very innocence without wondering when it will die? Seeing in its eyes the very infant you tried to save gasp its last breath of air, taking it off its dead mothers chest. Holding it, trying not to cry because you know the end is near for this precious being.  Handing the infant off to a transporting agency after doing all you can then shrugging off a feeling of helplessness and proceeding to the next victim during triage and perform your job flawlessly? Could you, would you?

Can you crawl through blazing hot temperatures in 50 pounds of gear without being able to see your hand in front of your face?  Feeling your way through a burning home, counting your time inside, monitoring how far you have gone, trusting your training and your partners skills. Hopefully finding the seat of the fire rapidly, stopping the beast from growing.  You sweat, curse and pray, sometimes it’s so hot it drives you to the floor, on your belly, but you are close so you press on. Then when it’s over you sit looking at the degraded building and its cheaply made materials that fail in half the time from a mere 20 years ago and picture the roof collapsing on you and your crew.  The Chief coming to your house, sitting your wife down and patting her hand while she cries because you are gone. Your children are fatherless, your wife is a widow and you are no more.  Can you think about that? Can you?

Can you watch your family time and again go on trips without you because you don’t work an 8-5, Mon-Fri schedule? As they turn out the driveway you are reminding them to please call if there is any trouble, to call when they arrive, to call whenever they go somewhere, anywhere.  Why? It’s not because you don’t trust them it’s because where ever they go you need to know if trouble lurks around the corner. You hate feeling this way but you do! Whether hiking, bike rides horse back or even plays dates in the park. The moment they are gone, can you let them go without seeing disaster strike at every turn? Can you?

Can you ever go to a barbecue and not smell burned flesh? Can you?

Can you perform CPR in front of an entire family sometimes successfully, sometimes to no avail and not feel moved by the crying, children sobbing, wives praying, husbands asking why, while holding the newest member of the family? Can you sit with a husband who just lost his wife of 45 years and hold his hand? Tell him you are so sorry while only having an inkling of the pain he is about to go through all while knowing it wont be too much longer now until you respond to him passing away as well? Can you hold a daughter whose mother just died in front of her from a diabetic reaction. Can you do that until the father gets home then go through it all over again? Can you turn and tell a family grandpa has gone and how sorry you are but there was nothing you could do to save him? Can you?

Can you give medical treatment to an abuser without prejudice? Could you?

Can you look a little girl, dying of cancer in the eyes time and again telling her it’s going to be ok? She knows you are lying, you know you are lying, but strangely it makes you both feel a little better. Then watch over time as she fades away, eventually succumbing to her disease and feel some remorse, somehow attached or remotely responsible? Can you do it?

Can you pull up to a random medical aid just in time to watch a man pull a hand gun out and shoot himself in the head? Then rush to his side without worrying if he is still alive and may shoot you! Then calmly do your best and try to save his life?

Can you bury a friend and honestly say he is in a better place when all your training couldn’t save his life and you know the suffering he went through before perishing?

Can you drive down the freeway without wondering what car is going to crash, what bridge is going to collapse, what semi truck is going to jackknife. Whose car is going to survive the crash, how many people are going to die? Where are you going to swerve to avoid the problem? Do you do this?

Can you lay your head down at night and not fear the sleep that comes?

Our job is one we love; we do it because believe in the power of helping those who cannot help themselves! We are a myriad of Type A personalities, we are born to be helpers, genetically it is who we are. Yes we knew what we were getting into.  But what we didn’t know or possibly could have fathomed was the lifelong effects it would have on us, our marriages, our children and our ability to look at the world through innocent eyes.  Something every one of you possess whether you realize it or not. Something (my innocence) I would give anything to have back.  But in the long run I can’t have it back! I gave it away when I took my oath and there is no getting it back.

The other night I received an honorary coin during our annual awards night dinner for saving a life.  I have been a part of a crew who has saved a life (on record) every year since 2007.  Does that one coin make up for the countless others lost? Are we supposed to live by the mantra “people die every day what are you going to do”? I just don’t know anymore.

People tout us as heroes. We aren’t, we are like any other trained profession looking to use the skills we have acquired. Everyone needs a hero and I am ok with the title if it eases someones mind, but when I think of true heroes I think of our military! Men and women who wake up everyday, put on their boots and stand up for our country at all costs. Some people bag on our job, put us down, disrespecting our failures and our accomplishments. Yes everyone does have the right to their opinion it is a cornerstone to our countries foundation.  But before they run their mouths giving a public perception that is both false and unjust, I wish once they could see life through my eyes or the eyes of the millions of brothers and sisters walking this earth everyday feeling the very same way I do, carrying the same burden, shouldering the same load and doing it with a smile on their faces.

Could they carry this burden? Even for a little while would be nice.  Can you? Could you? Would you?

Thanks everyone for letting me vent. I am no greater than the person beside me, God created me that way for a reason. Maybe someday I will be by your side as well, giving you comfort and helping you in a time of need.

To those who walked this path before me I have and always will be in awe of the leather boots I fill… 

“I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we who know the work which the fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling. Our proudest moment is to save lives. Under the impulse of such thoughts, the nobility of the occupation thrills us and stimulates us to deeds of daring, even of supreme sacrifice.”

Chief Edward F Croker FDNY (1899-1911)

9-11-2011 018

FTM*PTB* EGH* RFB

343

 

 

My Words of Wisdom for the Day

When making a decision of infinite proportion the term “sleep on it” is used as advice for the leery. Yet “sleep” never comes, your mind stays “on it” and before long you wish someone else would tell you what to do even though you’ve known the answer all along.
Seems like a waste of a good nights sleep.
Carry on that is all…

An American oxymoron…

 

My 13 year old asked me the other day while watching Top Gear, a television show that originated in the UK and has grown to a spin off in the United States.

Dad; what is the difference between a GMC truck and a Chevrolet truck?

Sitting back in my chair, realizing this was a moment where I could lay waste to any positive view he may hold towards these vehicles with a short idiotic tirade, I gathered my thoughts leaned down, put my arm around him and using my best Ward Cleaver laid this little number upon his unsuspecting bewildered eyes.

Ahhhh-hemmmm!

(Clearing my throat, using my best grandpa jones old man inflection)

The difference between them son is symbolic of the widening indifference in our countries mental acuity.  You see when our country was young, led by intelligent, strong willed, dedicated individuals we as a country knew the difference between right or wrong. A child could play in the street without fear, a woman was revered by men, a mom was considered the, be all end all of every child, and your house was your home, not a temporary storage area until you moved again hoping to make an extra buck.  Community meant that everyone cared about their town and participated in its growth.  You didn’t just live there to commute somewhere else without a care in the world about your neighbors or their well being.

The difference clearly rested in a country becoming accepting of all races and religions without prejudice.  Remembering we are all products of family members who immigrated here and just because we are third or fourth generation doesn’t mean we hold some inalienable right over others trying to achieve the same dreams. Yet that is exactly what we continue to do and every race and ethnicity is as guilty as the next when it comes to this process. Our country started with the ability to parent each other’s children without fear of retribution, living under the guise of “it takes a village”.  Education was a number one priority and teachers were revered for success afforded them through flexibility not unattainable federal guidance. Teachers are taught to “have the power” and “Show students the way” yet due to spineless administrators and frivolous lawsuits our children have all the power backed by parents wanting an education for their children but refusing to back any teachers play when it comes to their precious heathens.

Oh yes son the difference is clear as daylight! For you see in this country we have allowed so many to abuse the legal system for so long that a citizen of the United States is now considered guilty until proven innocent. Prisoners have all the rights and citizens have little to no protection from the criminals.  Our police forces have been told to uphold the law using the iron fist of justice, yet the iron fist has been reduced to cheap tin and is now tied behind every officers back leaving them unable to complete any given task or have the appropriate authority to do so.

In god we trust is upon every dollar yet church and state has been cited as a conflict of moral/ethical principal. The difference is right in front of your face son. Hold the door for a woman today and you are oppressing her right to equality, don’t hold the door and you are rude self centered man. Rape and abuse are the center of every television drama, glorified for all to see which seems to be an oxymoron in a civilized society.  The real housewives of any city USA are a ratings boom feeding these women millions of dollars. As American women we should be ashamed of these poor excuses for humans yet we glorify their shallow self centered struggles. Meet any woman who behaves as they do in real life (not reality TV) and she is instantly a trash talked bitch cut from the pack and left to obscurity.

What is the difference? ah yes, everyone gets a trophy when playing sports and no one loses; because if we have all winners that means someone will feel bad about losing, possibly stunting their ability to feel good about themselves in the future.  It also means that no one person will know what it feels like to truly succeed at something through failure, there bye over time eliminating the need to perform and win from our genetic make-up.

Our society is told to go outside and live life daily, these directions come from the confines of a television we paid way too much money for because its quality is so good you actually feel as though you are there, thusly preventing you from actually being outside. The difference is complaining about the rain while sniveling about the sun, whining about the heat while crying about how cold it has become!

The differences are right in front of you, you are bombarded with them every day.   WE (Americans) choose what we believe in as individuals, then we stick to it come hell or high water! Its what makes us great as a society, but its also what may in fact lead to our downfall.

In reality there are no real differences, a tweak here a few horsepower there, but essentially the very same truck. Over the last 100 years “we the people” have become so blinded by the Hollywood glow of some that lead, so ethically corrupted by misled faith, disenchanted with reality, bought off by envy and the American advertising machine that handles everything from a bar of soap to the Presidency, that “we the people” actually believe  there is a tangible difference between a GMC and a Chevy truck.

If you don’t think other countries aren’t laughing at our pig headed stupidity then drive down to your local Honda/Acura-Nissan/Infinity- Toyota/Lexus dealers and see who is having the last laugh at your expense..

Oh yeah, by the way son the GMC truck is waayyyy better than a piece of junk Chevy truck any day! Duh!  Stupid Chevy owners…

 

 

License to drive…

 

Mirrors adjusted? Check! Seat is in the proper position? Check! Steering wheel is placed at the optimal level for a 10 and 2 hand hold? Check! Are you mentally ready to drive today son? To which a death glare is leveled upon my kindly old man face.

And so goes the dilemma a father faces while teaching his 16-year-old to drive. His son frigidly sits behind the wheel; grip tighter than a vise, knuckles Casper white as the truck moves slowly out of the driveway onto our mile long dirt road.  Plenty of room here to screw things up before he merges with the masses of Dario Franchitti’s/ Dale Earnhardt’s vying for position on Americas roadways! 

Now all of this is supposed to be a monumental moment; a point in family history where a father enjoys sharing his knowledge of the road and joy of driving with his son/daughter. Yet all I feel is fear! Now over my storied employment history there have been numerous adults who learned to drive the behemoth 18 wheelers that dot our highway landscape from your truly! Never once did I trickle even the smallest droplet of sweat! I could firmly place my cup of coffee on the dashboard and nary a drop would spill from the styrofoam chalice. Yet with the family prodigy I am as nervous as a death row inmate waiting for a pardoning phone call. 

Maybe my nerves would wear a little softer if my son showed some “drive” (nice play on words huh?) when it comes to this enormous responsibility. But he is so lackadaisical about the whole process it leaves me screaming ugly profanities inside my head! Why? Why is so indifferent? Why does he not seem to care about the outcome? He doesn’t come across as self entitled. He says he truly wants to learn the finer art of motoring. Yet getting him into gear (another fine motoring reference) has been sticky to say the least!

When I was a kid (flashback moment-didiloo,didiloo,didilooooo) life was like this;

Hi everyone my name is little Betty! I am only 13 years old and I love cars! I have models of cars that I built scattered all over my room, wanna see? The Chevelle and 1957 Bel-Air are my favorite cars but I would drive a Chevy truck with a 454, nice wheels, tires, painted blue with ghost flames! Yes sir by golly that is the truck for me! I clean horse stalls and do all sorts of chores saving money up so that one day I can get my license, purchase my truck and drive where ever and whenever I want! Only 23 months, 2 weeks, 4 days, 16 hours and 12 minutes until I get my license! I like to sit in my dads old GMC and pretend I am driving all over town! Every day after school and on the weekends if you want to find me, that’s right where I’ll be! Ahhhh Shucks, I can’t wait to drive!!!

Flash forward-(didiloo, didiloo, didiloooooo)

It’s taking so long to turn 16! Being 15 is a giant pain in the butt! Do you know when I turn 16 I will own the coolest truck in town and be dating girls left and right! Summer is gonna blow if I don’t get my license! Man, cruising around in moms station wagon with my permit is a giant drag! But I’ll let you in on a little secret.  Shhhh come in a little closer so no one else can hear; when my parents are gone I steal the old man’s GMC and cruise all over town! I know cool huh! Yeah its ugly but seriously who cares and who needs to be 16, when you have an all access pass to party time with no license needed! Turn up the tunes, pick up the friends and whoop, whoop, just cruise! As long as I am home before 8, because you know that’s when my parents get back from their Monday night association meeting and my dad would kill me if he found out! Oh yeah, I am soooo cool!

Flash forward a little more (didiloo, didiloo di-oh you get the point)

Yes! I have my license! I have a truck! I have freedom! Life is great! So long suckers, I’m hitting the road, places I need to see, things I need to do and they don’t involve this place! Van Hagar playing loud, windows rolled down so all you “walkers” can partake in some choice music as I roll on by! Owning a car is fantastic! If you have the means I highly recommend it!!

Present day:

I get nothing from the lad! No enthusiasm for driving, cars or trucks, nothing, nothing at all.  Where have I gone wrong? Is this even my child? Spinning donuts in the parking lot, drag racing out on Fry road, cruising downtown Petaluma on a Saturday night with hundreds of other cool cars and trucks! Loud music, screaming, laughing and having a general good time! Isn’t that enough to entice a young lad to give it a go; to want his license more than anything on this God forsaken planet?

What is that you say? Cruising has been deemed against the law? Hanging out with your friends is considered loitering? A custom car with loud pipes and a cool stereo is now disturbing the peace? To even think of working on your own car you need to aquire a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanics. On top of that insurance and gasoline are five times the price they were when I was a kid?

Well hell, it all makes perfect sense now! What incentive does the lad have? Why would he want to drive at all?  Why would he even care? Apparently there is a reason they are called the “good old days”.  Because it was good and now we are old which leaves the youth of today nothing but boring days ahead!

So out of the driveway we go, his hands in the perfect 10 and 2 position, the stereo is on, air conditioner set and he is piloting this barge very well down the road.  I resist the urge to browse Facebook as we roll through the countryside. I am trying to build his self-confidence by acting like I fully trust him while I am slyly paying attention to every little detail of his driving manners.  It still ends up being a moment I will cherish forever.  We drive many miles over several days with small corrections here and there, then finally giving him the freedom to drive comfortably without repercussion he relaxes and settles back into the seat.  Another driver on the road, another human reaching the pinnacle of freedom for their age; He may be ready to take the final test securing his permanent license. It might be time for the sensei to release his student out into the world. We pull the truck over and with a sincere smile along with the adoring eyes of his father I lean in and tell him what a good job he is doing, he slowly looks over with a half cocked smile and says thanks. Still no real excitement on his part…

Maybe we should just scrap the whole idea and find him some public transit?

Betty’s Words of Wisdom

Compassion! Take a moment to recognize you are not the only person having a hard day. There is always someone having a worse day than you. Have compassion. Carry on that is all…

Every 15 Minutes

Steam rises from the hood as a faint wail can be heard off in the distance.  Sound is muffled, vision distorted he doesn’t understand the images placed before his eyes.  A kaleidoscope of colors passing through a spiderweb prism is all he can associate.  Looking to his right he finds a pair of shoes.  Not just any shoes but the Sketchers he bought his girlfriend for her 16th birthday.  Why? He wonders.  Why are they there on the seat of my car and how are they standing on their toes.  The improbability of shoes standing on their toes is more than his mind can process.  He shakes his head trying to clear the cobwebs but the alcohol in his system wont let it happen.  So he stares at the pink Sketchers in disbelief.  

The pink Sketchers he bought his girlfriend on her 16th birthday are in fact not standing on their toes.  They are still connected to her feet, feet that lead to her legs, legs that stretch through the windshield of his 2004 Nissan where she lay motionless on the hood. Dying.  The girl he loves is dying on the very hood that steam now rises from while a faint wail can be heard in the distance.

She cant seem to make it stop.  She doesn’t remember taking a nap, but now that she has found peaceful slumber she only wishes for what ever is dripping on her face to quit!  She dreams of water or syrup sliding across her eyes.  Swatting at the sticky substance she is not sure whether its real or part of her warm comfortable dream.  Then she feels it, starting out as a low uncomfortable burning, her dream translates it into fire.  Surrounding her, leaving her trapped yet somehow she knows better, fighting resisting the dream. Her eyes finally opened by the rush of adrenaline surging through her system, brought forward by the searing pain across her face. The sticky substance now identified is blood! She screams then screams again, taking in all the air her lungs will allow.  Her seat is covered in blood, the dashboard is covered in blood, her clothes are covered in blood.  Wait a minute; she thinks to herself.  Calm down and relax; is all she can say.  Her dads voice ringing in her ears for all the times she felt panicked and he calmed her down with those four little words.  Honey just “calm down and relax”.  She remembers getting in the car with her friend, they were headed to a friend’s house for a study group..  Wait her friend! He was driving them! She slowly turns to the left and its then her world is changed forever!

She now knows where the blood is from, oh sure some is from the head wound that burns across her scalp.  But the majority is from him.  He lies motionless against the door pillar, color gone from his face, lips barren and dry, a sandy glaze across the whites of his eyes he breathes no more. Still, lifeless, anything but the laughing energetic young man he was a mere 5 minutes ago.  She screams for him to wake, he doesn’t budge.  She slaps his face praying for a reaction! Anything! Anger and fear rip through her as she comes to realize he will never wake up, never move again, the charming, smart, dorky boy she had known since 5th grade was gone forever. She lays against him crying. Not knowing what to do or where to go, she cries.

The faint wail off in the distance is not a wounded animal, it doesn’t come from a piece of machinery or a child who has just been punished it comes from a shadow, a silhouette, an anomaly spread out on the pavement 25 yards away.  It twitches and writhes this anomaly of disproportion.  The top half in a serious battle with the bottom half. A losing battle from what can be gathered at first sight.  This shadow seems to be swimming on pavement, for it surrounded by liquid.  A red lake that ripples with the breeze it appears to be flowing to the lowest level it can reach.  Moving closer we see the shadow, the anomaly is wearing softball gear.  A bat off to the right a cleat off to the left stuck in the center of what appears to be a childs water-color.  Smeared across hot black asphalt lay various shades of red.  She doesn’t know why she is face down and can’t move her lower half.  She doesn’t understand why she is vomiting non stop. She feels a “fight or flight” reaction that she can’t control.  Like a trapped animal she howls, claws and fights against the chains that bind her to this place.  An abdomen that wont flex, a pair of legs grotesquely deformed, rotated and broken, she fights.  She has fought her whole life against those who said she couldn’t.  She has fought her whole life to achieve her small successes in school , at home and on the field of play, now she fights purely for her life.  She cannot move anymore yet she still fights.. 

He has shaken the cobwebs and moved beyond the pink Sketchers.  Trembling with fear he opens the car door and stands up to survey the origin of steam rising off the front of his car.  He cannot believe what lays before his still blurry eyes.  Two vehicles are heavily damaged, the front end on his car is folded up like a piece of paper, his girlfriend lay on the hood. Bleeding. Unconscious. It appears he has struck another car in the driver’s door.  A portion of the drivers head lays split open on the center post of the car.  It appears another occupant, most likely a female is crying and shaking the driver looking for a response.  As he walks around the front of his car, pulling out his cell phone he see’s a bloody pile of clothing fighting against itself on the street off in the distance.  It also appears to be a female and she has a bat, glove and is missing her shoes??

What has he done?  How did this happen?  It was only minutes ago he was at a party, laughing, drinking and having a good time with his girlfriend.  What is he going to tell his parents?  What is he going to tell her parents?  This can’t be happening he is going to college in 6 weeks!  What does this mean for his future?  It was only a couple of drinks right? He tells himself he is fine and there is no way the cops will ever know..

He makes the call to 911…

Every 15 minutes a person is involved in an alcohol related accident.  This is the premise of the Every 15 Minutes program held at high schools across the country prior to Senior Prom and Graduation.  Every 15 Minutes is a two-day program focusing on high school juniors and seniors.  The program challenges them to think about drinking, driving, personal safety and the responsibility of making the right decisions.  The program also focuses on the impact these choices make on family, friends and the community. 

The story I wrote above was about our scenario today April 26th 2012.  It is an re-enactment or compilation of many accidents I have responded to over the years.  For as the Every 15 Minutes program has an impact on the children and their families. Drinking and driving has an impact on all first responders.  The firefighters, the police officers, the ambulance crews and the hospital personnel who fight for your child or family members life.  People who are advocates for their survival.  These are images I carry with me always.  Images I can’t erase or just forget! People whose lives were changed forever from one poorly made decision. I remember them all and share them with you so you will remember to never get behind the wheel of a car after you have been drinking. 

Dont drink and drive. 

 All pictures are of high school actors who volunteered to help raise awareness to teenage drinking and driving. I am very proud to be a part of the Every 15 Minutes program and the lasting effect it has on our participants, their family members and the audience that witnesses the event.