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Heroic Moments Are Rarely Heroic

June 8, 2020

Have you ever been on TV? I have. At least I think I have. Honestly I don’t remember. But, the things that people get on TV for, you know like stopping a bank robbery, stop a terrible accident, or saving a life? I didn’t get on TV for those.

I did them.

But, they weren’t heroic. Not in the moment.

I was president of a small startup based in Orem, Utah. We had rented the upper story of a building next to the Scera Theater on 600 South in Orem. Actually we had half of the upper story. We were a pretty small shop. But, we had a beautiful picture window that looked North. I had a wonderful view of our back parking lot and Mt Timpanogos, the most beautiful mountain in the world.

One day my team was all out at lunch. We were way behind schedule and everyone was stressed. I took advantage of the quiet to spent a few minutes standing at our window and gazing out at the mountain rapidly loosing it’s snow in the late Spring sunshine.

My quiet was disturbed by the figure of a man running through our parking lot. He had his hands wrapped around the front of his bulky coat. Way too heavy for today’s weather. He got into a blue mini-SUV and left. And I went back to staring at Mt Timpanogos and thinking about my September deadline.

Several hours later, my team was back from lunch. I was in my office when our office manager, who did duty as our receptionist told me the police were here to see me.

We rarely got visiters at all and never police officers. I invited him into my office and he informed me that he was investigating a recent bank robbery.

Right around lunch time today. Since the bank shares a parking lot with your building I was wondering if you might have seen anything?

I wasn’t much use giving a description of the robber. The bank tellers had seen him up close and personal. But, they had no idea what kind of vehicle he used. Now they did.

Apparently, it was my tip that let them track him down. He’d actually hit several banks up and down the Wasatch Front. The branch next to us was the last he hit.

Would they have caught him without me? Probably eventually. But, it was my tip that broke the case.

But, it was anything but heroic. I didn’t even know I was stopping a bank robbing string while I was doing it.

I was riding shotgun in my friend’s SUV. We had a carload of boyscouts and were headed south for a weekend campout. We’d had a late start and by the time we got to southern Utah, it was dark. My friend pulled out to pass a truck, one of those big semi tractor trailers. The oncoming traffic was about a mile away, but closing fast. The truck dutifully backed off and gave us space to move back into the lane. But, my friend showed no signs of pulling over.

The headlights of the oncoming car were closing at a combined speed of about 120 miles per hour, our 60 plus his 60.

And still my friend wasn’t pulling over.

And suddenly I realized what was happening. My friend thought that we were on a four lane highway. We were actually on a two lane highway.

You’re in his lane, Darrin. You’re in his lane.

The first car at us swerved off to the left shoulder. To his credit, Darrin didn’t panic. . .much. He cut the wheel hard to the right and we slipped in front of the semi just as the second car reached our spot. Darrin was pretty shaken. The semi driver behind was seriously upset as evidenced by his continual flashing high beams.

The boys had no idea how close we had come to death. They were busy watching a DVD on the in car entertainment system.

But Darrin knew. Him, me, probably the other driver. We were as good as dead in a headon at a combined speed of 120 MPH.

Heroic? I don’t know. But, certainly important. And no one except Darrin and I knew about it.

I did know the time I was saving a life when it happened. But, that doesn’t mean it was at all heroic.

My son was about seven years old. His siblings, aside from his twin brother, were all with a year or two of his age. They were playing. I don’t even remember what they were playing with. But, somehow my son managed to almost swallow a marble. It was stuck in his throat. My other children came running to get me as my son was slowly turning blue.

I’ve taught the Heimlich Maneuver multiple times. I’d never used it. Not until now. I spun my son around and quickly placed my balled up fist just below his ribcage. placing my other hand on top of the first one, I gave a quick thrust. The marble popped out immediately.

My son, freed from his distress immediately ran back to avoid losing his next turn.

Heroic? Who knows. But, at the time it had less of an impact than who won the next round of whatever game they were playing.

Have you ever done something truly heroic? Did you know it at the time? The truly important things that happen to me only seem memorable in hindsight.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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