Saturday, May 08, 2010

Breathe Easy


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.
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2 comments:

Terry said...

I am glad you made it out of that one.

As a very young man I had an encounter with a bottle of ammonia and I agree, it can kill you.

Now that you had this moment of clarity are you going to do anything with it?

Terry

Jay said...

Beyond that little incident, there have been a few others in the last couple of weeks. Things that remind me that one's whole world can change in an instant.