Daily Prompt: Close Calls

I had to laugh when I saw today’s Daily Prompt:  Share a time when you narrowly avoided disaster.

I’ve been pretty open in my blog about my accident in 2011, but I guess it’s a matter of interpretation as to whether I avoided the disaster or if the disaster hit me right on the head.   A tree hit me right on the head, actually.  A tree, for God’s sake.  Not a branch, not a limb, not a part of a tree.  The whole freakin’ tree.

You say "disaster".  I say "stupid tree."
You say “disaster”. I say “stupid tree.”

At first glance, it may not look like I avoided disaster, narrowly or otherwise.  But I’m alive.   Oh, it’s been two and a half years of hell.  Don’t get me wrong.  The pain, depression and loss of direction have been overwhelming, and I have had days when I wished that damn tree had been a little bit bigger or fallen a little bit harder.

But was it disastrous?

Meh.  Ask me again on one of my bad days.

I have always been a very lucky person.  Or unlucky, depending on how you look at it.  My family called it “Hyde Luck”.  We were The Lucky Seven, four aunts and three kids.  The Big Hyde Girls and The Little Hyde Girls.

That was a bit of a disaster, now that I think about it.  The Aunts were just . . . odd.  Four sisters who never married, never lived alone, never had a life away from their siblings.  My sisters and I grew up understanding that a life like theirs was not what we wanted.   I sometimes wonder if my disastrous marriage was a result of my fear of ending up like the aunts in all of their Spinster Glory.

Okay, the marriage wasn’t really a disaster.  Not all of it.  Just the parts where we hurt each other.

“Hyde Luck” was the term we came up with for the fact that we always seemed to just miss disastrous events.  An accident on Space Mountain an hour after we rode it.  A shark attack on Daytona Beach a week after we vacationed there.    A ten-car pileup on I-94 ten minutes after we decided to take US 131 instead.  A tornado that took out the building next door to the one that housed my aunt’s beauty salon.


Don’t ever stand behind me in line.  It’s just not safe back there.

I am, however, the safest person in the world to stand next to during a thunderstorm.  Logically speaking, what are the odds that another tree will ever fall on me?

Several years ago, my kids and I went to my aunts’ house on a Friday night.  We called Papa John’s to place our pizza order, but there was no answer.   “Of course they are open on a Friday night!” we scoffed.  “They are just too lazy to answer their phone.  Screw ‘em, we’ll get Little Caesar’s.”

I had to drive past Papa John’s on my way to Little Caesar’s.  The lights were on; there were cars in the parking lot.  I could see people walking around in there.  I actually pulled into the parking lot and started getting out of my car before I changed my mind.  No, I didn’t think it was a good idea to leave my very hungry kids alone with the aunts long enough for me to place my order in person and wait for it at Papa John’s.  I got back in the car and hurried along to Little Caesar’s, picked up some Hot –N-Readies, and forgot about Papa John’s.

Until I saw the news the following morning.  Apparently, Papa John’s was being robbed at gunpoint while I dithered in the parking lot.   Employees and customers were being bound and gagged in the back room.  I had been seconds away from walking in on an armed robbery in progress.

See what I mean?  Lucky for me, not so much for the folks at Papa John’s.

Hyde Luck.

A few months later, I stopped at a little convenience store on my way home from another Friday night with the Aunts.  I left my kids in the car while I ran into the local gas station/grocery store/bait shop for some milk.  As I came out, one of the clerks was going back inside after yelling at some teenagers for loitering in the parking lot.  I scolded her and told her to be more careful at night, and then stepped out of the way of the man who walked into the store behind her.

Turns out he had a gun.

His truck was parked beside my car.

My kids were in my car.

I missed another armed robbery by seconds.  Literally seconds.  He had those women at gunpoint before I was out of the parking lot.  I would have witnessed the entire thing if only I had glanced in my rearview mirror.

Hyde Luck.

Driving home on a lonely stretch of road at dusk a few years later, I saw a man lying on the side of the road.  He was sprawled out at a weird angle, his head almost in the drainage ditch.  There was just no way he was taking a nap.  I did a quick u-turn and hopped out of my car, running to him just as he started sitting up.

He told me he had been hit by a car, but begged me not to call 911.  He owed money to the hospital, he said, and didn’t want to go there.  Would I drive him to his friend’s house just up the road?

I’m not stupid.  I knew better than to let him get into my car.  So I offered to let him use my cell phone to call his buddy to come get him.

He didn’t grab the phone I held out.  He grabbed my arm instead.  In all honesty, I have to admit that I still didn’t see the danger of my situation.  I didn’t think about the self-defense classes I took in the 90’s.  He let go of me when another car drove by, and I promptly drove away without him, calling 9-1-1 as I went.

I later talked to a friend who responded to that call.  I wanted to make sure the man wasn’t badly hurt after being hit by a car.

Only to find out that he hadn’t been hit by anything.  He was wanted.  There was a warrant out for his arrest.

For rape.

For carjacking.

Hyde Luck.

Well, not exactly, because no one was hurt after my lucky break.  But still.

This is why I laughed when asked to share a time when I narrowly avoided disaster.  Seriously?  My entire life has been a series of narrowly avoided disasters!

Someday, my luck is going to run out.    But until that day, you really don’t want to be in line behind me.  It’s just not safe back there.


Off With Her Logic!

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – the White Queen, Alice in Wonderland.

What are the six impossible things you believe in? (If you can only manage one or two, that’s also okay.)

Believing in six impossible things before breakfast isn’t as difficult as it sounds.  Most of my beliefs are pretty impossible or at least defy logic.

I believe in God.   I don’t necessarily believe in organized religion.   I know that Christianity doesn’t always make sense; that so much of it depends on having faith in something that I can’t see or prove.  But I have to believe that there is something, someone with a plan.  Someone bigger than I am, someone in charge.

Rational and scientific people can show me all kinds of proof to the contrary, but I will never stop believing.  My faith is as much a part of me as my heart and lungs; I couldn’t survive without any of them.

I believe in ghosts.  We have a ghost in our house who likes to turn on the TV during the night.  She seems to especially enjoy Craig Ferguson.

She stands beside our bed and gives me a sad, sad smile whenever one of my kids is sick or troubled about something.  I’ve done my research so I know who she is – or was—and I think it’s pretty cool that she watches over our kids like this.

I believe in love at first sight.  I don’t believe that it only happens once in a lifetime or that it lasts without a hell of a lot of hard work, but I believe in that sudden, instant connection that goes deeper than simple attraction.

I believe in luck because I am the luckiest person alive.  I hate to mention my accident again, but think about it:  the tree that landed on me was roughly four and a half feet in diameter.  It landed on my head hard enough to break my spine in five places, but didn’t crush my skull or damage my spinal cord.   It landed on my chest hard enough to pin me in the vehicle, but didn’t damage any internal organs.   I lost use of fingers on my left hand, but I am right-handed.

Best luck of all?  My kids were in the vehicle but were unharmed.  Luck.  No other explanation.

I believe in trusting instincts.  If it feels wrong, it is wrong.  Period.

The best example of this is a story my father used to tell.  He picked up a hitchhiker while driving cross-country in the 1970’s, but the kid made him more and more nervous as time went by.  The kid –Jeff—was polite and clean-cut and did nothing to arouse suspicion, but Dad said his gut instinct kept gnawing at him until he finally kicked Jeff out of the car at a bus station.  For years, he told us about Jeff and promised that we would see him on the news one day.

We did.

Jeff’s last name was Dahmer.

My final impossible belief is this:  I believe in Karma.  Not as some vindictive force that will smite the wicked and so forth.  But as just a certain degree of justice in the universe.  Mean people don’t win.

Sounds childish, I know.  But I believe that fate will eventually get around to everyone.