Monday, October 20, 2008

Perspective

The last few weeks of travel and events has not been the best...

Arguably, they may rank among the top 10 bad travel experiences I've
had in the last 13 years or so...

I've already articulated a few of the issues-

- A rather close encounter with Customs & Immigration in Canada

- A missed flight in Vermont that caused me to miss other flights

- Two nearly-broken knees on the flight to Stockholm

- A less-than-stellar performance in Sweden

- An insanity-inducing inner-ear infection contracted in Stockholm that resulted in a ruptured eardrum during my flight home

- Less-than-24 hour turnaround at home between Stockholm and Guangzhou

- A travel document problem that caused me a 3-day delay in Hong Kong

- The same mishap causing me undue scrutiny by the illustrious People's Republic and nearly a 5000rmb fine getting back into China

- The 3-day delay causing me to be 3 days behind schedule on my NBA project in China

- (That ear infection still going strong after a week of meds)

- Another less-than-wonderful performance in Gunagzhou

- A hectic post-game schedule trying to wrap our systems and make the charter flight between Gunazhou and Beijing (Part of which involved me schlepping a 70lb case full of computers almost 2km in order to find the airport transport.)

- A red-eye flight (1am to 4am) flight into Beijing

- Northwest airlines "misplacing" my 70lb case of systems needed for the Beijing leg of the Project

- Having to beg, borrow, wheedle and steal equipment to temporarily replace the missing systems

- Spending many hours cajoling said borrowed systems into accepting the NBA's GameStats software to keep the stats at the game in Beijing

- And yet another less-than-impressive performance in Beijing for the game on Saturday

- Midway through the game I was informed that the systems were found, still in Guangzhou, and wouldn't be able to be delivered to me in Beijing in time to get my Carnet counterfoil stamped- so I'm on the hook for $12,000 worth of equipment that the illustrious People's Republic customs officials think that I sold while I was in in Beijing...
So they will be looking for a bribe bond / fine in order to get my paperwork resolved

- And now another 15 hour flight from Beijing to Newark, a 3 hour layover in the Armpit of the Northeast, and a 2 hour flight to Jacksonville...

And you know what...
My life is actually good. Amazingly wonderful, actually.

Know why?

Perspective.

It just takes some perspective to make you realize that your life is actually pretty good.

In my case it started as a text message from The Woman Who Knows Most Things.
As I was working on my systems in Beijing I got a text that read "Call me if you can."
I logged into Skype and called home.
"What's up?"
"Marie Stevens called. Scott was killed on his motorcycle by a hit-and-run driver."

I've know Scott since I was in 7th grade.
I've known his wife Marie since 9th grade.
Their family was a picture of unity and contentment you rarely see these days.
We went to their wedding down in Arcadia years ago. Our 20 year class reunion was held at their house.

Scott was a dedicated family man; three sons, two daughters and a new granddaughter. He was admired and respected in his community and in his work as an emergency room nurse.

I was speechless.
"She left a number to call."
I called Marie and we spent several minutes talking about what happened.

Scott was on his way home on his motorcycle when a pickup crossed the center line and hit him head-on, killing him instantly.
The truck continued off the highway, through a fence and came to rest in a field; The driver took off cross-country.

In riding his motorcycle, Scott was the quintessential safe rider.
Always wore a helmet (including the night he was hit.)
Always wore his leather jacket.

The details I gathered from Marie and from reading several articles on the Internet painted a picture that hit several of my nerve endings...

The driver was illegal alien, driving under a suspended/revoked license, there was evidence that he might have been DUI, and the cowardly bastard didn't have the balls to accept responsibility for his actions, but only acted to save his own ass, and ran away from the scene.

He has since been arrested.

In his life and his work, Scott touched people's lives in a way that few people can. The stories and comments I have read from the articles in the local papers tell how well he was regarded. How he was respected among his peers.

In his job, he had tangible and far- reaching effects on peoples lives.
Helping sick, wounded and injured people; assisting in life-saving procedures.

In my job, I setup machines for collecting data; I move the data around, and move it to databases for storage.

Would that I had the kind of effect on people's lives that Scott had.
But let's face it... If the number of fouls on a box score of a basketball game is three instead of four, it won't shake the pillars of the Earth.
If the data hits the Internet in ten seconds instead of five, no one's life, health or family is at risk.

But back to perspective...

Woe is me... I'm stuck in Hong Kong.
Woe is me... My airplane seat is uncomfortable.
Woe is me... I don't like my hotel.
Woe is me... My luggage is late.

What a short-sighted self-important perspective.

I'm going home. I'll see my wife and daughter tonight.

There is a family in Arcadia that won't be seeing their father tonight. A wife will never see her husband again.

There is a person in the ER in a Bradenton Hospital that needs care and compassion... Someone else will have to give it to them.

The world is poorer today, not because I didn't get an upgrade on my flight...but because we lost someone who truly made a difference in this world.

Godspeed Scott... You will truly be missed.

TBG

2 comments:

Bug said...

I'm very sorry for the loss that Scott's family has been dealt. It sounds like he really made a positive impact on the people around him.

A very good perspective. Very very well put.

Momma25 said...

Thanks for the the post. It means a lot to me to have friends I can count on. I can't even begin to tell you what a difficult time this is. Scott would not want me to stop living and I know what I do I can do because of the impact he made on lives including those of our children and mine of course. Did you know that the day before the accident he went down the street and bought a birthday cake for a patient while he was on his break and that very same night he withdrew $200.00 from our account to give one of the single moms he worked with to pay her electric bill because she was having trouble? I know the world is a better place because he was here. I owe it to him to keep on keeping on. I pray each day when I open my eyes for the strength I need to get up and I have not spent a day in bed yet. So long sweet husband until we meet again...