Saturday, May 08, 2010
Driving around as I do on Saturdays when I'm at work. Mostly it's an easy, laid-back day. I go visit somebody there. Go check up on somebody at another place. Drive, drive, drive....listen to the radio....think about my upcoming days off....just truckin' like the Do-Dah Man with the window down and enjoying a nice spring day.
Whilst driving down one road this afternoon; however, I notice a whole bunch of fire trucks and police cars converge on an intersection and people proceed to run in several directions at once. I couldn't figure out what was going on until I drove right beside the tank that had fallen off the trailer in the photo above. It was full of anhydrous ammonia and the valve had evidently broken off.
I caught a lung full which felt like somebody had hit me in the chest with a baseball bat. Then I was unable to keep my eyes open. I floored my pickup and made a very sharp turn, fumbling to turn the air conditioning on full blast to clear out the air in my cab. The whole thing lasted no more than a few seconds but it seemed to be enough time for me to think to myself "If I don't get out of here now, I'm going to pass out and die" and "I hope I don't drive into another car or a house or some poor sap on the sidewalk".
I didn't die and I managed to keep from killing somebody else. It did get me thinking about what's important. I had all kinds of important things in my mind before I came alongside the broken tank. After all...I have an important job doing important stuff. I have a lot of important thoughts to think.
Except when I took a whiff of the ammonia. Then, like magic, the only thing I was able to focus on was getting my next breath.
Zen masters call it a moment of clarity.