Monday, August 16, 2010

Maybe It Wasn't My Time To Go

Once upon a time, a long time ago back when AM radio ruled the airwaves and music was on 45 RPM's, a very unusual thing happened to me one afternoon. It was a situation that I'll never forget as it changed my life forever. It was an awful scary moment and a very close call. Allow me to share this story.

It was the summer of 1969 and I was returning from my lunch break back to my job at STAX Records located at 926 E. McLemore in Memphis, TN. While driving down the freeway with the windows down and radio blasting the Mitch Ryder tune, "Devil In A Blue Dress," I was minding my own business and didn't have a worry in the world. I was getting ready to take the very next exit when I noticed a small boy standing on the approaching overpass and leaning over the bridge railing. He was little guy with his head and shoulders barely appearing above the railing. As my car advanced at a rapid pace, I began starring at this image through my windshield and noticed this kid suddenly lifting something very large over the railing and aiming to drop this projectile upon my car. To avoid catastrophe I quickly changed lanes yet the young boy still managed to hoist a heavy 4X6 wooden beam off the side of the overpass and heading downwards towards my moving vehicle. I had to think fast. Fearing death I quickly squinched my body into a ball and pressed hard against the door while expecting the worst. Crashing through the windshield at the speed of a rocket, an enormous wooden beam slammed through the glass. I thought I was dead.

The beam sliced through the glass like it was tissue paper. Glass cinders sprayed throughout the vehicle like buckshot being spewed from a shotgun. The projectile exploded through the thick windshield and into the passenger-side bucket seat and completely unhinged the bolted seat from floorboard. With the car traveling at freeway speed I managed to open my eyes and regain my senses. I struggled to bring the car to a stop and pulled over to the center median. Immediately I threw the car into park and turned-off the ignition. That's when I discovered fragments of glass were stuck in the corner of my eyes, embedded in my hair and the corner of my mouth while my ear canal was caked-up with splintered glass. Stunned by the event, I glanced around and it appeared that death had just missed me by an inch. Not believing what had just happened, I was mad as hell and wanted revenge.

With the car being stationary and parked in the center median, I jumped out from the vehicle and began to chase the little varmint who created this havoc upon my life. Running across the opposing side of the freeway with oncoming traffic slowing to catch a view, I weaved in-between cars in a desperate chase to catch the juvenile. I ran up the embankment but the youngster had a head start on me and sought shelter by running in-between houses and disappeared out of sight. As I stood in the backyard of an unfamiliar neighborhood, I feared of being out of my element and the blind possibility of being bated into a trap.

Completely exhausted after the chase and still trembling from the incident, I walked several blocks down McLemore Ave. and into the offices of STAX where I phoned police to report the accident. After making the call I walked back to my vehicle on the freeway to be interviewed by the police who had already arrived.

If a picture from the crime scene could tell a thousand words, the officers could plainly see the near-death encounter that I had experienced. As they were making out their reports, I was still shaking and removing glass splinters from my clothing. I shook my head in disbelief yet it was a scary thought as to what might have happened if I'd only caught the little boy. Perhaps cooler heads prevailed and a second crime was avoided. The officers listened intently and were compassionate to my story yet chalked the incident up to just another neighborhood crime. The police officers then called for a wrecker and offered to drive me to my destination.

As you can witness, this was not a pretty picture. It was an ugly occurrence and definitely a close call. Although this happened over forty years ago, I've often thought about the little boy who dropped the board through my windshield and racked my brain to wonder why. He couldn't have been more than seven or eight years old. I've imagined that maybe he was completing an initiation to join a street gang or something. Did someone dare him to do this? Maybe there were witnesses who were watching nearby and judging for approval. Perhaps it was a gang ritual. Who knows? Why would such a young person engage in this unjust behavior? Someone had to instruct him to perform this crime. Right? Or was he simply a poor misguided youth and acting independently while bored and wanting something to do? Had the young boy been caught, do you think that he could have explained his behavior? Those are the kind of questions that a police investigator or child physiologist might have demanded.

Moving on and wondering what can you do about such a meaningless crime? You gather your senses and just let it go. Perhaps we all have comparative stories about incidents that have almost taken our lives. It's human nature to want to share these close calls with others. Perhaps to unload the negative energy associated with the circumstances. Plus, it's good to educate others while sometimes our stories serve as a form of metamorphosis as we rid our soul of the experience. But sometimes these crimes are hard to forget. Sources tell me these incidents occur in our lives to serve like a wake-up call telling us that we need to reevaluate something. Like a reality check maybe. Plus, a near catastrophe can serve as a tipping point. It can be mother natures way of stopping us in our tracks and questioning our direction. I believe this to be true. Often I'm told by others that I should count my blessings as this accident could have been much worst. Point taken. I believe this is good advice. Now that I stop and think about it, I guess it really wasn't my time to go.

A famous quote by The Dalai Lama;

"Be kind whenever possible......

It is always possible."

Copyrighted story (c) and photographs by Phillip Rauls
2010 Rauls Media LLC - All rights reserved

Dalai Lama photo by unknown source