It’s my first day heading back to work after an extended period of time off. I commute a total of two hours each day. I’m first in line at a temporary light in a construction zone on the Trans-Canada Highway . . . the light turns green . . . and my car stalls. I restart it; put it in gear; and it stalls again. Are you picturing this?
I immediately turn my hazard lights on and quickly jump out of the car to raise the hood as vehicles slowly start making their way around me. Ah yes, the joys of being the one who is holding up traffic. I’m fumbling around my wallet trying to find my CAA card and suddenly, there’s a knock on the window. A young man is motioning for me to roll it down. “If you put your car in neutral, I can probably push you over to the side. This is a dangerous spot. You could easily get rear-ended.” I was so thankful to have some help that the sarcastic side of my brain didn’t have a chance to spew the thought, Really??? This is a dangerous spot???
Within moments, my car and I were gratefully huddled on the side of the road, with hood still raised and hazard lights blinking. The sympathetic CAA agent is taking down my information when I hear another knock on the window. This time it’s one of the highway construction workers. “Ma’am, this is not a safe place to park your car. You’re going to have to move it.” I pointed to the raised hood as he listened to my conversation with the CAA agent. It was then that he realized the stupidity of what he had just said and went back to what he was doing.
I actually laughed as I sat there waiting for the tow-truck. What else could happen on my first day back?
Within a short time, my knight in shining tow-truck arrived. And within a short time, I had an appreciation for him. He clearly knew what he was doing.
On the way to my mechanic’s garage, I told him just that – that he was very proficient at his job.
“I’ve been doing this for ten years,” he said as he butted his cigarette. “I’ve seen a lot.”
For some reason, I had never thought of it before. Whenever I saw the scene of an accident and all the lights, I had always thought of police, firefighters, paramedics . . . but I didn’t even think of one of the lights being that of a tow-truck . . .
“After one particular accident, I had PTSD, which is post-traumatic stress disorder,” he said. ‘‘A man had committed suicide at an intersection. I had to stop doing those calls.” You could almost see the reflection of the scene from years before in his eyes.
“Yes, I know what PTSD is,” I said. A memory surfaced instantly of a soldier who had done numerous tours in Afghanistan. He had told me of an incident where he had gone fifty feet into a minefield to save the life of a young girl. In the next sentence, he desperately tried to convince his girlfriend that she should abort his unborn child, which could add more PTSD onto what he already suffered from. Yes, I was very aware of PTSD, and its effects . . . .
“What do you do for a living?” he asked, shaking me from my reverie.
“I’m the director of a pregnancy center. And part of what I do is to help men and women come to terms with experiences that they’ve had with abortion.” - To prevent more PTSD from occurring . . . I thought to myself.
I told him about one gentleman in particular. “A few years ago, a man attended the program who had suffered from bouts of depression. He was married and had children but had years before, pushed a girlfriend to have an abortion. The guilt led to a depression that had deepened enough that he had picked out which concrete bridge abutment would be the best to drive into. And what speed he would have to hit it at for it to kill him.”
“I had no idea,” he said, shaking his head.
Me either . . . .