The Seconds That Make a Difference

August 29, 2012

Longer ago than I care to admit, I was a student at Arkansas State University, and I was the head equipment manager for the football team (we were the Indians back then, and they are the Red Wolves now thanks to NCAA political correctness, but I’ll not go into that now). My parents had come into town for the weekend to see our football game, and I’d been out at the hotel where they were staying, eating dinner and visiting. It was getting late (for them, not for me), they were ready to turn in, so I said my good-byes and was headed back to campus.

That’s when Dad asked me to fill the ice bucket for him before I left. I went down the hall, filled the bucket, walked back and gave it to him, when he asked if I minded filling it again.

Not a problem. It took maybe thirty seconds to fill it again and return the bucket to their room. He thanked me, I said goodbye again, and was off.

As I neared campus, I was in the outside lane of traffic on a four lane road; I was nearing a Pizza Hut, and the car in front of me signaled to turn right into the parking lot. That car slowed down, then stopped, and as I drew nearer, I switched to the inside lane to keep going, around and past them.

As things turned out, the car that had been in front of me was stopped and had waved a car trying to turn out of the parking lot into traffic, to head in the opposite direction that I was going. Which means it pulled out into my path.

Yep; I plowed right into them. No one was hurt, thankfully, but my car was out of commission, and we had to call the police to get a report. The other driver was cited for failure to yield the right of way.

I called Dad at the hotel, he drove down to take me back to campus, and life continued.

Until the next day, when we got together after the football game, and I pointed out that had I not gotten that second bucket of ice, I would have passed the restaurant sooner, and not had the accident. Until he died, Dad and I joked about that, with me always telling him that the accident was his fault. Thirty short seconds.

 

This morning, I rolled away from my house on my bike (bicycle, not motorcycle) at about 5:35 AM, a moment or two later because I stopped to say something to my wife. Just about three quarters of a mile from our house, when I’d crested a hill and was riding about 18 miles an hour, I heard a cracking sound; looking forward, I watched as a large (about 4 inch diameter) limb fell in front of me, about eight feet away. There was no time to avoid it, I had a flashback to almost exactly a year ago when a similar limb laid me down (see Two Kinds of Cyclists on this page-August 2011), and managed to get through the limb without going down. A second later, and it would have come down ON me. Two seconds later, and it would have been behind me.

Which got me to thinking about all of the (unfortunately, many) near-misses I have had in life, whether on foot, behind the wheel (thinking about the day I rolled a dump truck while pulling 7 tons of asphalt still leaves me amazed), or on a bike. Like the time Kim Lee and I were camping, and we realized the sound we were hearing was bullets flying through the air. Or when I decided to cut down a tree in our back yard, and it fell where I did not want it, and almost hit the slide that our daughter was coming down. Yeesh.

Life is lived in an endless sequence of split seconds. I’m grateful today that I dodged that tree (a broken spoke was the worst of it, and the wheel is already repaired); I’m even more grateful that in the timelessness of eternity, God claimed me in a split second.

May He do so with you, as well.

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