The summer of 1987 I was a sophomore in college, completely bullet proof and absolutely brilliant (in my opinion). My roommate also suffered from this immortality complex and was probably even smarter than me. We launched off with a few dollars and a suitcase of clothes to spend the summer working in Fort Lauderdale. This journey was much less about work and more about fun, but little did we know that life would never be the same for one of us in less than a week.
We quickly settled in an apartment which was to be our home for the summer, and went to our job location (a large construction site) early the next day. We were assigned a job of moving lumber from one location to a burn pile. The last piece was a 4 x 8 piece of plywood that I grabbed one end and my friend grabbed the other, and we proceeded to move the piece of wood. Unfortunately for my friend who was behind me, his first step was into a manhole that was the opening for a very large tank. He fell headfirst 30 feet and the rest is history. Our fun trip to Florida for the summer had now become a struggle for survival for my friend.
The truth is we are all one car ride, one doctor’s visit, or one fun trip to wherever, from the worst. In the work that I do, I see this all the time. My friend survived that fall, and after many, many years of rehabilitation returned to live at home with his mom. He never got to finish his baseball career or to pursue the career of his choice. He never got to have children or do many of the things that we all take for granted.
I often play the “what-if” game around that accident. “What-if” I would have chosen the end of the board that he did instead of the one that I did. I cannot change it, but I can use “the certainty of the uncertainty of life” to encourage people to plan for that which could happen. Hug your family!