By DAVID JONES
This particular February morning started a little earlier than most.
It was signing day, the day high school students trade their binding signatures for college scholarships, and all over the area there were to be ceremonies.
The first one I had to cover was in Broken Arrow, which was a long way from my house. I left about the time I usually awake and groggily made my way from south Tulsa through a sliver of Bixby and on to Broken Arrow.
There I got the pictures required, got the information, got into my car and headed for Union High School with a planned intermission for breakfast.
The weather was cold and there had been warnings of sheet ice, but I saw no trouble although the radio stations were alive with dire tales of motorists who had slipped off the road. I took such reports with nonchalance; I was sorry for what was happening to them, but I was all right.
At least, I was until I got near East 41st Street and Lynn Lane.
It was an open stretch of road, looked clear of any difficulty, and I was traversing along when the front wheels and the back wheels decided to go in different directions. In vain I twisted the steering wheel, trying to emulate the emergency maneuvers I had been taught a half-century before. Nothing availed! There was a big ditch to my right and I was headed right for it.
For a moment I had that hopeless feeling you get when you know something is going to happen and whatever it is you’re not going to like it.
The next thing I was aware of was a woman’s voice saying, “Sir, can you shift your weight up on this board?”
I found I could shift. I also found that the passenger-side window had disappeared. It didn’t take me long to figure this out: the car had crashed, someone had called an ambulance, the ambulance had come out and now they were stuffing me into the back like a sausage into its casing. How long had I been unconscious? Who knows?
By the time the ambulance started its journey toward Saint Francis Hospital the nine-year-old boy in me took over. It had been decades since I’d been the guest of honor in an ambulance, the siren was on, and I decided to enjoy every moment. The attendant bandaged my hand, put on a neck brace, and started calling the hospital on a cell phone. I asked if I could call my wife. She said later, after the doctor had seen me. Seemed reasonable enough; after all, if my wife didn’t know I’d been in an accident she wouldn’t need news updates.
When I got to Saint Francis, reality began to set in. I hurt in several places and I wanted attention. Seems dozens of other motorists had suffered similar catastrophes and they, too, needed attention. I discovered I’m a lousy patient. I am perfectly willing to patiently wait my turn as long as my turn is NOW.
X-rays were taken. Stitches were borne with a stoicism that would have done John Wayne proud. Contact was made with the wife. She came. But the hours seemed to drag on punctuated only occasionally by visits from medical personnel. I knew they had other patients, but didn’t they know I was the Most Important Person in the Universe?
Apparently not! Nevertheless, when I was released later that afternoon and had time to reflect, I had to wonder at the skill that was shown to me and the care and the concern. I was also left with so many debts of gratitude to repay.
There was, for example, a person who found the wrecked car and called 911. Somebody has that person’s name and I’ll get it in time but for now it is a mystery. Nevertheless, he gathered my cell phone and my wallet and my glasses and stayed with the car until the ambulance came and handed everything over to the attendant.
There was the attendant, a very nice looking lady I woozily recall, who with the help of the skillful driver, got me to Saint Francis in no more pieces than I had started off with.
There were the technicians who x-rayed me and the doctors who sewed me up.
I can’t recall a single name, but all of them went through months and years of training for just such an event.
I’ll find out who a few of them are, but most will continue on their way, having done well by me, and not give me another thought.
To all of them I’d like to say just one thing:
Thanks for being there when I needed you.