The autumn in New England is beautiful. The leaves change colors and the temperature begins a pleasant descent before the horrifying, snowy winter plunge. October got cool enough to warrant me wearing a substantial coat as I work in the wee hours of the morning at my new job. Oftentimes I go into work as early as 2am. So far it has gotten down to about 42 degrees with a steady wind. Unfortunately the seasons began to change before Cintas got around to ordering me a name-emblazoned coat. While I waited for mine to come in I borrowed one from the supply room with the name “Ryan” written across the left breast. So, for the last two weeks, my name has been “Ryan”. Everyone assumes that is what my name is.
Today was a particularly cold and rainy day. My lovable, middle-aged Dominican co-worker and I made our way up to New Hampshire to service a kitchen and a few restrooms. For some reason, even though New Hampshire is only a 15 minute drive from the Cintas plant in Northern Massachusetts, the temperature always seems to be about 10 degrees cooler in New Hampshire. I spent most of the morning snugly wrapped up in my “Ryan” coat.
At about 7:00am we went to a restaurant near Manchester, New Hampshire that we were supposed to service. My co-worker went inside to take care of some paper work while I lazily sat in the van trying to fall asleep for just a moment. After about 60 seconds of slumping over the steering wheel I was startled by someone knocking on the window and yelling “We were in an accident!”
I opened the door to find a panicked mentally-handicapped teenage boy saying “Please help me! My dad is hurt! We were in an accident!” I jumped out of the van into the rain, shook the sleepiness out of my eyes, and walked with him toward the road where I found a green van with the hood crushed in and a silver car that had run up onto the sidewalk. I did the responsible grown up thing: I asked him if he was ok and then I called 911.
The next few minutes were really intense. All of the sudden I was the only responsible adult in this guy’s life. While I called the police he continued to frantically shout random thoughts out as they came to him: “I can’t see! My glasses fell off in the van! Can you get my glasses!?”, “I”m scared! I don’t want my dad to die!”, “I want to call my mom!”, and “That is my mom’s van! Is it totaled?”
After I called 911 I assured him that the ambulance was on its way but, of course, that did little to settle his frantic mind. He continued to yell through his fears: “I can’t see!”, “Is my dad OK?” Then he said “I’m cold!” which makes sense because he was only wearing a t-shirt in the cold rain. That was a problem I could solve. I walked back to the van and pulled out the “Ryan” jacket and helped it onto him (he was a little bit bigger than me so it was snug).
As I helped him with the jacket he looked at me and said “I’m so sorry. I’m scared. I don’t want my dad to die.”
I said “It’s going to be ok. You did a great job.”
Then he looked at me and said “I love you” and embraced me with his dripping wet arms. It took a lot for me to not cry (…ok I cried a little). I just couldn’t help but think about Judah walking around in a parking lot trying to get someone to call 911 because I was trapped in a car.
The paramedics arrived and informed us that his dad was going to be OK. He was trapped in the car for a while, but he was very responsive and talkative. A firefighter escorted the young man to the side of the car so that he could retrieve his glasses and talk to his dad. My co-worker and I got back in the van and watched as a soaking-wet young man with the mind of a child stood anxiously awaiting the rescue of his father. That was the last I saw of him… and that was the last I saw of the “Ryan” jacket.
I love it when God reminds me that I’m here for a reason.