When the Going Gets Tough: A True Story From Dupont, Washington
DECEMBER 18, 2017
A day, like any other day, in Thurston County, Washington, near the capitol city of Olympia . . . people rose from bed, ate their morning meals, said goodbye to their husbands and wives and children, and headed out the door to do whatever it is we homo sapiens do on a winter’s day.
It was raining that day, not a downpour per se, but more a steady reminder that northwest weather is always a test of one’s psyche.
The freeway, Interstate 5, filled up early with commuters, as is its norm, and traffic streamed north and south between the Canadian border and the Oregon border.
And then a train derailed and dropped, twenty feet, down upon that freeway.
Thirty tons of metal fell off the overpass onto a busy freeway.
Another thirty tons hung by a coupling, suspended in air above the freeway.
Confirmed dead, as of this writing, three . . . over one-hundred injured . . . in a way, a miracle that more were not killed.
The cause of the accident: the train was traveling 80 mph as it approached a curve designed for 30 mph . . . excessive speed and most likely human error.
But this story is not about human error; it is not about carelessness. It is not about liability and it is not about laying blame on anyone.
It is about the wonder of human beings.
Into the Fray
Daniel Konzelman and a friend were commuting to work along I-5 when the unthinkable happened. Konzelman did not hesitate. He pulled to the side of the road, he and his friend exited their car, out into the rain, into the darkness, and ran towards the accident to see if they could help. But instead of walking the periphery of the accident, Konzelman and his friend entered the mangled railroad cars looking for survivors in an accident barely two minutes old.
They entered the mangled railroad cars!
The first two cars had very little damage. The two good Samaritans walked through those cars, checked on a few people with minor injuries, and then continued to the third car. There they had to crawl through broken glass and twisted metal to find the dead, and the survivors, and there they waited with the critically injured until medical help arrived.
Inside the mangled railroad cars, in an incredibly unstable environment, they waited with the critically injured.
“We didn’t want them to be alone,” Konzelman said. “If it had been me, I wouldn’t want to be alone in that situation.”
I Wasn’t There
I was ten miles away, safely tucked in my writing studio, the heater providing warmth, the roof providing dry comfort, so I can’t be 100% certain of what I’m about to say . . .
But I don’t believe Konzelman, or his friend, gave a damn what race the injured were. I don’t think they gave a damn about the religion of the injured, or the political affiliation of those in need. I don’t think they stopped to ask those harmed if they were supporters of Trump. I doubt they asked for their views on pro-life or the legalization of marijuana or border patrol. For sure the national budget was not discussed, and I’d bet my last buck they didn’t chat about fake news or gun control.
It was just two people trying desperately to reach, and help, fellow human beings.
Getting down to basics!
Ya know what?
I’m tired of the negative bullshit!
Two “friends” of Mine
I use that term loosely, but I have two “friends” on Facebook . . . actually writer friends . . . let’s call them Bill and James for the sake of anonymity . . . and those two can’t seem to post anything without attacking some segment of the population. Oftentimes that segment is the “Far Left,” but it’s much easier to simply say Bill and James attack anyone who does not agree with them on any issue. It’s amazing, really. Instead of just pontificating on the issues and their opinions, like we all do from time to time, they choose, almost daily, to point out the evil in the “other side.”
To what purpose, I ask?
What is the point?
How does that kind of infantile behavior bring us closer as a society . . . as a species?
Perhaps Bill and James simply do not care about bringing us all closer, and of course that is their right . . . they are real big on “rights” . . . they are not required to post anything remotely related to inclusion or brotherly love, and I understand that.
But I wonder . . .
I wonder if, had Bill and James been in that derailed train in Dupont, I wonder if they would have interviewed rescuers trying to find someone who believed as they did before accepting life-sustaining aid . . . or would they have become inclusive at that moment?
I wonder . . .
Hell, we all complain from time to time. I did my share over a year ago after the Presidential election. I was unhappy with the results then and I still am, but I don’t blame the results on half the population. It happened, vent, get over it and move on . . . move on towards compromise and cohesion as a country . . . but there are some who evidently enjoy the kind of fractious contention we see today.
I just don’t get it!
It Happens All the Time
We see these kinds of heroic actions happen almost daily. They play out on our television screens after every mall shooting or car bombing or natural disaster . . . ordinary people doing extraordinary things to help complete strangers. The jogger who climbs into a burning car to pull out a passenger after an accident . . . a mother climbing into the rubble of a building, after an earthquake, because she can hear a child crying inside what was once a structure . . . hell, the volunteers who leave their jobs and drive thousands of miles to help flood victims after a devastating natural disaster . . . during those moments there are no political affiliations . . . there are no religious barriers . .. there are no lengthy debates about the Bible or the Constitution . . . there are only people helping people!
No bullshit . . . back to basics . . . people helping people!
I Never Met Jesus
can’t speak, firsthand, on “what would Jesus d” . . . I never met the man . . . it’s kind of silly for me to pontificate about someone I never met. But from what I’ve read about him, I have a hard time believing he would ignore suffering passengers in that derailed train. I also have a hard time picturing him attacking a group of people simply because they do not agree with him. I’m not a big religious guy, but Jesus is one of those humans I could hang with if we were alive at the same time. It seems like he was a pretty inclusive guy, you know? Seems like he was pretty forgiving, and it seems like he knew a thing or two about love.
So I try to keep that in mind when I’m going about my daily activities. I try to do all things with love. I’m not always successful, because my fellow man can drive me bat-shit crazy just like anyone else . . . but I try. I try to be accepting of others. I try to include all races and creeds. I’m nowhere near perfect, but I know for a fact I don’t go out of my way to attack others.
It just seems like the best way to live, you know? I can’t do this alone. I need you and, truth be known, you need me.
Something my dad once said has stayed with me for decades. He was a WW2 veteran, and he often said “there ain’t no atheists in a foxhole.” Yes, that’s a double negative, but I think you get the point. I’d like to add my own saying after seeing the aftermath of that train derailment in Dupont . . . there ain’t no socio-economic barriers during an emergency. It’s not quite as catchy as my dad’s phrase, but I think you get the point.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to “unfriend” Bill and James on Facebook, and send a friend request to Daniel Konzelman. I much prefer his way of tackling our differences.
2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)