Rockford, Illinois, USA
February 05
I'm a regular middle aged guy, living in a regular middle class neighborhood, in a regular middle-sized community in the middle of America. I am an expatriate Texan transplanted to the Midwest, and wondering how I got here, and where I'm headed.

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DECEMBER 9, 2011 2:21PM

I Should Be Dead

Rate: 31 Flag

The first house I lived in was one block from a brand new Interstate highway.  Once when I was about two or three years old, I wandered from our unfenced back yard and started walking along the shoulder of the highway.  A neighbor happened to drive by.  He picked me up and took me home to a frantic mother.  I should probably be dead.


When I was a toddler, my parents’ house did not contain any of those little plugs that prevent small children from sticking their fingers in electric sockets.  Nor did my parents put those child-proof locks on the cabinet doors in the bathroom and kitchen.  I should probably be dead.


Once when I was about 13 years old, I went camping with a large group of boys from my church.  Most of the kids set up their tents at the top of a little hill.  My best friends and I set our tents up next to a dry creek bed.  A huge thunderstorm rolled in during the night, and we had to evacuate the campsite as a flash flood rushed through the ravine.  We went to retrieve the tents and camping gear the next afternoon.  Everything had washed away and was scattered about 200 yards from where we had been camping.  I should probably be dead.


About 20 years after that incident, I went camping by myself on Matagorda Island, an uninhabited and utterly wild barrier island along the Texas coast.  The first afternoon of my campout, big, black cumulonimbus clouds began building up over the Gulf.  A large fleet of shrimp boats sailed past on their way to safe harbor, and in the air I saw helicopters ferrying workers back to land from an off-shore oil rig.   That night I witnessed a lightning storm unlike anything I have ever seen.  The wind blew so strongly that it ripped the mosquito netting in my tent.  I was camped at the dune line.  In the middle of the storm, water began to enter my tent.  I stepped out and my tent was in the surf, or rather, the surf had risen so much that it was crashing against my tent and the dunes.  With high wind, driving rain, and lightning flashing every three or four seconds all around me, I took my tent down, and set it back up on the opposite side of the dunes.  It was probably the most frightening experience of my life.  I should probably be dead.


Speaking of lightning, when I was a senior in high school, I parked my car on the street next to the football field on the way to my first class.  As soon as I shut the car door, there was the loudest thunder clap I have ever heard, and for a second all I saw was a brilliant flash of light. I felt a tremendous electrical shock.   Apparently, lightning struck a chain link fence about six feet from where I was standing. Some kids who saw what happened said I jumped two feet into the air, and my hair was standing straight up afterward.  I should probably be dead.


Once during the early 1990’s, I was with a friend in a relatively remote spot in Cambodia.  We were sitting down and cooling off after wandering through some Khmer ruins.  A young man with a very hard, unfriendly demeanor came and sat next to us for about 10 minutes, holding a small machine gun the entire time.  He never said a word, but glared at us menacingly.  Then he abruptly left, and so did we.  We should probably be dead.


When I was about 20 years old, I went canoeing down Central Texas’s Guadalupe River with my best friend from college.  Our canoe was a rental, and the outfitter told us, “Watch out for the chute about five miles down!”  When we arrived at the chute, we were caught in the swift current before we could get out and survey the rapids.  The chute was about 500 feet long.  When we made it through, we paddled our canoe to the river bank to catch our breath.  Two fishermen came to us and said, “You boys were screaming your lungs out the whole way through that thing.”  We should probably be dead.


Once I paid a 16 or 17 year old kid $30 to take me scuba diving off the coast of Cozumel, Mexico.  I had never been diving before.  In halting English he gave me a 15  minute lesson, and then we went diving.  I loved it.  Later that year, I took real scuba lessons and learned just how dangerous it can be if you don’t know what you’re doing.  I should probably be dead.


When I was a child, my parents owned a small patch of land in the woods of East Texas.  They used to drop me and my siblings off so we could go camping, and they would drive about 10 or 15 miles away to stay in a motel.  We were about 10 to 15 years old at the time.  A lot of my friends are astonished that parents would leave their kids alone in the woods like that.  They sometimes say, “You should probably be dead.”


Once I hit a patch of black ice on a rural highway in Illinois.  My car began twirling in circles and then crashed into a ditch.  The car bounced, and I remember rolling front end over back end about three or four times before it came to a rest on its side.  Thankfully, I was using my seat belt.  When I climbed out of the car to survey the situation, I saw my car’s imprint in the snow where it hit in the ditch.  That was followed by about 25 feet of clean, smooth snow before the next point of impact.  I had been airborne for that distance.  The next weekend my girlfriend (now my wife) and I drove to where the car had been towed to retrieve personal belongings.  When my girlfriend saw the car, she gasped and said, “Oh my god, I can’t believe you’re not dead.”


I don't know, maybe I've been kind of lucky.  One thing's for sure:  I'm still alive and kickin', and I'm planning on hanging around a while longer!

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I suspect most of us have been pretty lucky, and maybe don't even realize it.
I am so glad you are not dead. Me too, really, though I was way more cautious than you. Mine include some up-close-and-personal moments with angry/scared rattlers.
damn!! you are lucky. very lucky.

me too, from being the one sperm one egg genetic combination that I am to surviving the stupid I get myself into. Yeah. lucky is a good word.
I have to say, it was fascinating reading about all your near death encounters. The one in Cambodia is really, really spooky. Really.
You're alive because you're smart enough to never answer "Yes" to a woman asking "Does this make me look fat?"
M'oh yeah, Pro. If I sat down to think about it ... naw. Not going there, myself, but maybe you should make this an Open Call. Bet there are a lot of other fascinating tales.

Anyway, I'm glad you're still with us. With whom else could I exchange historical lore and all?
dianaani, I've had a few rattler encounters, but for some reason they never scare me. Maybe they should.

Julie, that sperm-egg combo you mention was one of the really, really good ones!

Unbreakable, I'm just glad there weren't one or two more of those spooky guys, then it might have been more than just scary, I think.

Stim, well yeah, but I did give my wife a vacuum cleaner for her birthday once. I still carry the scars.

Boanerges, aw come on, I'm sure you can share one or two from your journalism days!
Actually, I wasn't thinking about times on the job, although, on reflection, there were a few occasions. I did write about one such, away back, that wound up with me staring down the barrel of a police shotgun at a roadblock. Now THAT was fun. What's worse, it wasn't even the first time I'd been in a similar situation.

(I'm responding to your response -- bad form, I know -- 'cause I'd like to see this get bumped up in the feed. It's good, and a good idea, on account of I like this kind of story. I still think you should make it an Open Call.)
Lightning has been the source of most of my close calls. One time it came down the stove pipe and shot across the room to take out some electronics, narrowly missing us. Makes you appreciate what you've got.
Such stunning realizations come only in hindsight, don't they. Then we are thankful to whatever it was that spared us, perhaps against all odds. Count your blessings. I'm glad you're still alive and kicking.

Your guardian angel must be awesome, and exhausted!
And then there was that time you actually bought something to eat at a toll plaza gas station on Highway 90. . . .
Glad you're in the land of the living.
You tell this well, Procopius. Compelling rhythm to it. Had me hanging on every word. You're a lucky dog, too.
B., not bad for at all. At least when I was around firearms, they weren't being pointed directly at me!

Stacey, that experience would be just about enough to take me off the grid!

FusunA, and same to you.

ccdarling, I suspect he's been trying to get a new assignment!

CG, if I were to go into all the suspect foods I've eaten, it would overload the OS server.
Deborah, me too...they can't get rid of me that easily!

Matt, I guess I am. Maybe you are, too!
That which does not kill you makes a great bar story. And pretty great blog stories, too!!
good idea. your ideas are always good. my mother tells me i had an appetite for eating nuts and bolts when i was a kid. it's probably what makes me so hard headed today.
Procopius, Yes, from what I've read here you probably should be ... but it is a good thing you're not. I had a few brushes but you've had a bout nine -- just like a cat!
I have rated based on the first paragraph, I am coming back to read this entire post later this evening
I smiled all the way through. My take on it is the more electrocutions, near drownings (and in my case multiple house fires) and other things you survive, the harder you are to kill. At this point I think the angels see certain people like a car a guy sinks a fortune into, they're obsessed with keeping us running.

Great post, keep on rollin'.
Wow, respect, I have respect for you! I hope you continue to beat death as long as you want to. Pretty amazing stuff. Wow, yes, WOW.
Wow. Made me think about the time I was run off Route 80 in PA, going 75 miles an hour. I ended up in the median strip, with wild flowers in my grill, shaking all over, but ALIVE! Not a scratch on me or my old Plymouth Valiant! Something to be grateful for.... Thanks for your story.
I have led a lucky, I should be dead life as well, but not as many times as you have. You have even outlived the average cat.
rated with love
keri, first drink is on me.

Ben Sen, that's got to be quite an inconvenience at the airport metal detectors!

Scarlett, I think we've all had more close calls than we know.

Judith, the first paragraph is the best. The rest kind of sucks.

L'Heure, I hope they are as resilient as me.

Sheila, thanks. Your turn to share some stories!

Susanroo, when I rolled my car I was going about 50 mph. I shudder to think what would have happened if I were going as fast as you were!
Poetess, my cat has been lucky, too.
Engrossing post Procopius. I can't believe the Final Destination producers haven't been in touch.
Wow, it sounds as if you've already used up ten lives! Be careful with the eleventh...

I imagine there were dozens of times when I could have been killed as a child and teenager. Still, I think it's better to go out and actually do interesting things (like camping in the woods) than to stay at home, practically wrapped in plastic in air conditioned rooms, which seems to be the trend nowadays.

Abrawang, as long as Michelle Pfeifer is my co-star...

Alan, I couldn't agree with you more. And I didn't include half the stupid, potentially deadly stuff I did as a teenager or young adult!
As a parent, reading about your camping trips in the woods of East Texas, I was picturing the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. When, in reality, the fact that your parents let you live life, is probably what makes you such a good writer now. : ) R.
Sheesh, mun; just found this [from the activity feed. Thanks, politicallyincorrectDonna! ;-)]. Hadn't been following this particular Open Call so I came here Totally Unprepared (next time I'll wear full body armor ?!). All I could think of as I went from paragraph to paragraph was SEND ME YOUR BIRTHDATE, I want to "do a chart on you", all the while muttering to myself "and I thought _I_ was "living at 'Razor's Edge'"?! My next questions, though, are:

1. Can you, in your next post, "top this"?
2. Should we hope (on your behalf) for a "yes" answer or a "no"? PLEASE ADVISE! Don't want to have to hold my breath long.......
Sheesh, mun; just found this [from the activity feed. Thanks, politicallyincorrectDonna! ;-)]. Hadn't been following this particular Open Call so I came here Totally Unprepared (next time I'll wear full body armor ?!). All I could think of as I went from paragraph to paragraph was SEND ME YOUR BIRTHDATE, I want to "do a chart on you", all the while muttering to myself "and I thought _I_ was "living at 'Razor's Edge'"?! My next questions, though, are:

1. Can you, in your next post, "top this"?
2. Should we hope (on your behalf) for a "yes" answer or a "no"? PLEASE ADVISE! Don't want to have to hold my breath long.......
See what I mean? OS timed me out in the middle so now I'm double posted when trying to get back. Some guys (like you maybe) "have all the luck"? Dunno. Gonna make myself some tea and see what the leaves say.

Cheers ;-)
young men like to test their limits by getting close to death, and then there is the random intrusion of nature and other people's activity. not surprising if the result is a statistical difference in the life expectancy of boys and girls.

as for being 'lucky to be alive,' that depends on what you call lucky: one can be lucky to be dead. the way the environment is being exploited i have formed the habit of saying i was lucky to get most of my living done before the sea rises and the rivers dry.
P.I. Donna, I don't know if it made me a better writer, but I'll forever be grateful to my parents for giving me the leeway to live a full life as a youngster. They were not too protective, but they were not overly permissive, either. They simply encouraged an active life as long as we exercised responsibility.

podunk, I'm not sure I WANT to top some of those experiences!

al, in my case, I'm glad to keep truckin' on this planet a little longer. I suppose that makes me fortunate, indeed.
I'm glad that you had the incredible luck NOT to end up dead in any of those situations.

I've had a few similarly incredible bits of luck - from being thrown from a horse and landing on my head (and NOT ending up paralyzed or dead) to hitting a barely visible patch of slush on a New Hampshire highway, doing a 180 degree spin in the middle of said highway, and ending up stalled (facing backwards) in a grassy median without crashing into any other vehicles.
I am awestruck by the stuff and situations I don't even KNOW about that could have killed me. Every day is a gift.
Steve, I have to say that's quite a line up of close calls! Repeating what Scarlett said above, it's along the lines of nine lives for our feline friends. My life has been rather humdrum by comparison!
Such an adventure! Stay away from tents.
I'm glad that these disasters landed you with stories you can share with your friends and family. I've had a few close calls myself and later realized there was more to it than luck. I'd like to think someone or something was taking care of me then so I could be alive today. :)
Rated for resilience.
Wow, that's a lot of close calls. The Cambodian guy with the machine gun (in my opinion) is the scariest. Lightning, accompanied by rising water is probably a close second.

I am reminded of the old saying "Live every day like it's your last, and someday you will be right."
Good post!
This is funny in a colorfully dark way...
I can count about 4 or 5 similar instances for myself. When I think of my childhood in particular, I wonder how any boy reaches adulthood without finding some way to accidently kill themself.
Turtle, you got that right. Nice to have you stop by!
Glad to. It's only been about a year since I've been on Open Salon.