Just a second.
How often do you say that? To your spouse or significant other who needs you to help unload the groceries from the car… to your kids who ask for help with their homework… to the person you’re talking to on the phone when you pull up to the drive-thru window to order a SuperMegaBurger and a 40 oz. diet Coke…
Only a second. It seems like such a small bit of time. It’s insignificant, really. So unimportant are seconds that they aren’t even noticed until it’s the last play of the game, or you’re running late for work, or you’re waiting for the brownies to come out of the oven. But seconds are so precious. A few seconds can mean life or death. If not for a few extra seconds, you could have no seconds left.
My friend Katie was on her way to work this morning when a few extra seconds saved her life. She was driving down 540 and going through Rogers when she got into the left lane to let someone in who was coming up the ramp to the freeway. As she continued on she noticed a big truck up ahead, a concrete mixer. It was in the right lane, and since it was going a little slower than she was, she decided she’d go around it before getting back over. As she cruised along, slowly catching up to it, a pick-up truck came out of nowhere flying across the median in front of her and t-boned the mixer. It hit right at the driver’s side door, and she immediately slammed on her brakes. As she listened to debris hitting her vehicle she tried to make sense of half a dozen thoughts in a split second; pump my brakes? swerve right? then I might hit the mixer… swerve left? no, the frost in the median will put me into a skid… is there anyone behind me? am I going to be hit? is that thumping a blown tire on my car?
As she braked, she saw the mixer topple to the left and start to roll… she lost sight of the pick-up as she watched in disbelief the mixer rolling sideways over and over, through her lane, and into the median. She came to a stop just past the ruts in the mud where the pick-up had initially crossed the median. She was horrified, shaking, frantically dialing 911…
When the police arrived they asked her to stay on the scene since she seemed to be the only witness. Other vehicles passed her after the accident, and drove north on the other side of the median. No one else stopped. They must have had no seconds to spare in their busy lives. She finally asked one of the officers what had happened to the truck, since she couldn’t see it. She assumed it had gone over the embankment to her right. The officer told her no, it was under the mixer.
Only a few seconds kept Katie from being a statistic today. She would have surely died had that truck hit her with the force it hit the mixer. At this point we know one person went to the hospital, but we don’t know which driver it was or what happened to the other one.
We all go about our lives feeling pretty comfortable. We have our to-do lists, and our Very Important Meetings, and our waxing appointments. We worry about how our hair looks, where the nearest Starbucks is, and whether or not our roast will be done in time for dinner. We should be thinking more often about how we are treating our fellow humans… what we are doing to make our community a better place to live… how often we tell our loved ones how important they are to us.
Every hour – every minute – every second is a treasure. Live like you’re only seconds away from death, because you might be.