A Little Luck Keeps Me Breathing - 05.01.00

I was thinking about what I should write about this week when suddenly the idea came into my head to talk about different times in my life when only some small measure of luck saved me from being either disfigured or killed.

In high-school, a bunch of people and I played frisbee during the lunch hour when it was nice outside during the spring and fall. Usually, once a month or so, someone would send a very errant throw and the disc would end up landing on the roof over the gymnasium. When this happened, someone would usually end up going inside the school and climb out the library window on the second floor to retreive it. One time after this happened, and before anyone had a chance to volunteer to go inside, I bolted up the fire escape on the side of the building to a level where I was even with the roofline. Moving from the railing to the roof involved jumping a gap of only about 5 feet, but a corner of the building stuck out slightly and made the jump quite an odd maneuver for a body.

I must have not been thinking very clearly at that moment because I climbed over the railing, leaned out slightly from it and made the jump over to the other side. In the split-second that I was in mid-air, I realized just how stupid my act was. My shoulder barely cleared the corner of the building, and I fell forward when I landed, staying as far away as possible from the two-story drop. After picking up the frisbee and tossing it to my friends, I still had the issue of crossing back over to the railing, but knocked on the library window instead and went back down through the safety of the school.

In the dorm I lived in while going to college, we had two elevators. Although they were reliable for the most part, one or both of them would often go out-of-order, causing either lines in the lobby or more people using the back stairwell. One time, just after one of the elevators had been repaired, I entered and stood waiting for the doors to close and take me to the floor that I lived on.

Just as the doors were closing, I glanced through the closing doors to see someone rushing into the lobby to hit the button and secure a spot on the elevator with me. Instead of going for the door-open button on the inside, I stuck my arm out straight in front of me between the closing doors, knowing that it would trigger the safety guard and they'd pop right back open again for the person hailing me.

Instead, the doors closed right up on my arm and the elevator started moving upward, jerking my arm downward through the slit in the door. Instinctively, I yanked my arm out of the crack and fell backwards against the wall, my heart racing.

The next day, my entire forearm was bruised and sore from having raked it across the door, but I learned not to always count on safety releases.

The third time that I somehow managed to escape serious damage (although it was a very scary situation for several moments) was when I got hit by a car a couple summers back while riding my bike. Although the previous link takes you to the full story, the brief rundown of it was that I was going through a crosswalk on my bike and someone decided to make a right turn on a red light. Of course, this person failed to see me and hit me as I was coming through the intersection, flipping me over my handlebars and onto the street.

Fortunately, there were no other cars coming through the intersection at the same time as me, otherwise I could have easily ended up being badly hurt or even killed in the accident. It all happened back before I started wearing a biking helmet and somehow I only managed one small cut on my ankle and a broken toe clip on my bike.

Since that time, I've had dreams that were variations on the accident, and they all involve me sustaining severe body damage from the incident. I had one dream where I was going through the same as before, but as soon as I had hit the pavement, a car came flying through the intersection, unable to stop and ran over me, smashing my ribcage and legs like matchsticks and leaving me a crumpled heap. In another, I was hit by a car going the same direction as I was on my way down and I bounced off the windshield and up over the car as it crunched over my bike.

Lately, I've been trying to be more careful.