The Holiday Hero
I want to be clear that I did not write this to showcase heroism. Frankly, there was no time when I felt my life was in danger, so there was absolutely no courage involved. You cannot even round up and call this a courageous act.
December 2007 My Jack Russell Terrier and I are buzzing down good old I-95 at 2AM on the eleventh hour of my twelve hour annual Christmas pilgrimage to Massachusetts to visit my family for the holidays. It’s cold, there’s snow on the ground and I want nothing more than to end my diet of Red Bulls and to stop blasting Journey and Def Leppard to ensure that I keep myself awake.
An SUV zips on past me at probably 90 miles an hour. They quickly pass by me and disappear in the distance. Moments later, I find them right back in view as I come screeching to a halt. The SUV had collided with the divider and flipped over multiple times. It now lay on its side with the driver door facing up.
I flip the hazards on and bolt out of my car. The Navigator is pretty fucked up and I am expecting to see the worst when I arrive at the scene. I look inside and see two women looking back at me – completely fine. In a perfect world – or maybe even 5 years from now when I have bastardized the story – these women will be breathtakingly beautiful. In real life however, they were middle-aged, unattractive and the lightest one came in at about 230 pounds with the larger woman coming in waaaay above that mark.
Woman 1: Get us out!
Me: Ma’am, please stay right where you are. The paramedics will be here any minute. I don’t want you getting injured when you move.
Woman 2: We’ll be fine just get us out!
Me: Ma’am. I’m working on it. Just stay calm. Are either of you hurt?
Woman 1: No. I don’t think so.
Womean 2: Me either.
Me: Can you move or at least see your legs and feet?
At this point about 30 cars are at a complete halt on the highway. Everyone is out of their cars looking at the spectacle. One hulk of a man jogs over.
Giganator: You need help? Let’s get them out.
Me: I think we’re better off waiting for the paramedics, just in case they have a neck injury or something.
Giganator: Yeah – that’s right. You sure this thing isn’t going to burn?
On cue, the vehicle starts smoking heavily. You can’t write this shit. I’m now in emergency mode. We need to get them out and they sure as shit are not fitting through the moon roof.
Me: Let’s get them out.
Without communicating, Giganator rushes to the side of the vehicle and cups his hands together. I use his hands to climb up on the vehicle. It’s slippery as hell because there was oil on the ground from the vehicle and it is all over my sneakers.
The front of the car now has a visible small fire going. No one else is helping us.
I try to open the door and it is bashed in something fierce. The window is broken so I reach inside where the glass once was and do my best dead lift impression. I rip the door right off the car and throw it to the ground (even in my panicked state, I remember thinking “That-was-awesome!”).
As soon as the door is off, I smell the booze. They are absolutely pickled. I’m all about being drunk – I am not about driving a giant piece of speeding metal through time and space without having any control of your senses. I’m a little pissed now.
I reach into the car and grab the driver, Ms. 230, by the arm and yank her out. It’s much harder than I expected because I cannot get any footing due to the oil and surface area, and she is completely incapable of helping me. There’s nowhere to put her, so I sort of roll her off to Giganator, who catches her and places her on the ground. The fire is getting real big real fast.
I reach in for the large woman and ask for her hand. She is heavy. I can’t get any traction. I ask Giganator to grab my foot and give me some support. He practically snaps the thing off, but it isn’t going anywhere now. I reach in and pull with everything I have and get her through the door. As soon as her waist clears it, Giganator grabs her arms and we collectively get her off the truck.
I jump off the car. No more than a minute later it is completely engulfed in flames.
Not a single person had come to help us. There were now over 50 cars. Everyone was watching. No one moved a muscle.
The cops finally arrive, and one of them walks up to the driver, smells her and says, “You’re an idiot.” After talking to a few people on the scene, he thanks Giganator and me for saving them and tells us he is going to open up a path for us in the traffic (which is now substantial) so we can get where we need to be. We both thank the man profusely, while simultaneously dodging thankful hugs from the drunks like Bill Clinton dodged questions about Monica Lewinsky.
Giganator stopped suddenly as we were heading out. Giganator: I’m Tom. Thanks for what you did.
Me: Shit man. If it wasn’t for you, I would have needed a stepladder and that would have been embarrassing. I’m Nick. Merry Christmas.
Giganator: Merry Christmas to you too, brother.
I jogged back to my car and hopped in. Diesel, my Jack Russell, was happy to see me. He was tired of all this accident bullshit.
I let Tom pull in front of me to go through the police assisted pathway to freedom when I spotted it on the back of his Ford 150 window – The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.
Tom was a Marine.
As the holiday season approaches, we at Ranger Up want to remind everyone that you all do a lot of crazy and dangerous stuff for a living. The probability that you are going to die someplace other than a hospital bed is already not low. Don’t add to those chances by getting behind the wheel drunk. It is the absolute worst way to lose a serviceman, police officer, or fireman, because you guys all know better and you have the discipline to avoid these situations. Yes, that’s our version of a safety briefing!