I am a horrible person in a crisis. When the world decides to blow up, I tend to blow up with it. I get all freaked out, run around like Kevin from ‘Home Alone’ with my hands waving above my head and screaming at the top of my lungs, because nothing says calm and collected more than hysteria.
And… now that I have stopped laughing at the absurdity of that last bit…
Seriously, I have been told by people (no, really, these people exist and are not just figments of my imagination.. I think) that I am a great person to have in a crisis. When the crisis hits, something inside of me kicks the switch and I go into this all business mode. It becomes all about making it through the situation and getting out on the other side as best as I can with the least amount of casualties along the way.
One instance comes to mind from many years ago. I was driving one of those death trap vehicles that you always hear about killing a bunch of youth on a church trip. Yep, a 15 passenger van. And guess what, I was with a bunch of youth. On a youth trip.
Recipe for disaster… Check.
I had about 10 or so people in the van, including the youth pastor and myself (and that last part should have been obvious, since I was driving…so, ignore that part). We were headed to a home for wayward kids to hang out and do volunteer-y feel good stuff. The road we were on was a two-lane road that ran through the middle of a swamp and had no shoulder to speak off. As a matter of fact, the guard rails that keep you from plowing into the marsh was less than 5 feet from the asphalt. So, really close.
Anyway, there we were, about a mile down the road from the church, doing about 45-50 miles an hour when the hood pops up and smashes into the windshield. Three things happened almost instantly.
1) Everybody (else) in the van screamed and wailed.
2) Glass shattered over me and the youth pastor (who happened to be sitting in the passenger’s front seat)
3) I went into C&C mode.
Funny thing, you know how when you hear about moments like this and people are all… “I saw my life flash before me” or “Time slowed way down” or some other comment that seems so rather cliché? Yeah, none of that happened for me (not sure what that means… maybe my life isn’t worth flashing in front of my eyes or it’s just so boring it’s really, really short).
What did happen though was this…
My brain instantly assessed the facts.
- I needed to stop the van ASAP (sooner if possible).
- I needed to stay on the road as much as possible because veering off at that speed could potentially flip us.
- I needed to make sure everyone was ok.
Armed with that information, by body said ‘Roger that’ and took over.
- My hands gripped the steering wheel and my arms locked down, keeping the vehicle moving in a straight line (as straight as you can drive considering you can’t really see the road with a huge piece of metal blocking the spiderwebbed windshield).
- I used the guard rails to my left and right as a gauge as to where I was on the road.
- My foot came off the gas and slowly pressed down on the brake bringing the van to a slow stop.
- I prayed (ok, truth be told, I don’t remember if I did or not, but it does seem to be a rather instinctive response).
Oh, did I mention there was an oncoming car. It was white. I don’t remember much else about it though, but I can see it clear as day.
After about 10 seconds, the van was stopped on the road, still in my lane, and I was able to get us another 1/4 mile up the road to an offshoot near the railroad tracks. Kids were ok, the youth pastor and I, minus minor cuts from the sharded glass, were doing fairly well, and the van… well, that’s another story.
After all was said and done, we got the kids to the place they were going, I ended up going home, and about 30 minutes later, while standing in a steaming shower to get the glass off, that’s when my body decided it was time to process everything I had just gotten done experiencing, and two things happened almost instantaneously. I got incredibly tired and my body started to shake all over. Yeah, that was fun.
There is a lot more to the story
So, if you are ever in need of someone in a crisis, please call someone else.
I don’t know if I can handle anymore in my life.
In response to The Daily Post's writing prompt: "In a Crisis."