Hard To Merge, Hard To Breathe, Hard To Believe


(Above: Just sore, not badly hurt)

It’s been 24 hours since I was rear-ended by a semi-truck while merging onto the Dan Ryan expressway. Let’s tally up that episode’s suck:

Both Maureen and I went to the emergency room. My neck felt screwed up so I took an ambulance. We’re both sore.

You’d think the notable part of the day would be over at that point, and you’d be wrong.

After discharge from the emergency room, we limped homewards, stopping at CVS for medication. Starving, we pull in to a nearby restaurant for breakfast. Normally we don’t eat at this place, as it’s nothing special food-wise, but that morning’s situation forced an exception.

I walked into the front door vestibule and saw the following through the glass:

A small group was standing in the restaurant. In the middle of the group, a brown-haired woman stood, bug-eyed, mouth agape, hands reaching for her throat. She coughs a little. Her face is full of desperation.

The place is nearly empty. The people standing around her were all elderly and a couple were panicking. I enter the place and ask “Is she choking?” I got no answers in any spoken language, just a variety of visages of terror and despair. I noticed that the group is near a table and the food is half-eaten. Probably choking, I figured. “Call 911” I tell one of the dumbstruck waitresses.

Heimlich time.

I got behind her and remembered the old Red Cross bit about the balled up fist-grip and the solar plexus. I give her four or five heaves. It’s been a long time since I’ve had my arms around a woman who wasn’t Maureen I crazily think to myself as I apply the maneuver.

“Okay” I heard her say. I relented and looked around for the projectile that’s supposed to fly out, and don’t find it. She swallowed it, it’s okay. She’s coughing and wheezing but she’s okay. She was no longer choking.

We took a seat a table and cracked open our pills from CVS. The pills we were prescribed for the pain of being smashed into by a semi-trailer four hours before? Yeah, those pills.

After the Fire Department showed up and left, normality began to resume. The brown-haired woman moved to behind the cash register and I realized that she is the owner of the place.

We were visited at the table by one of the older women who was panicking when I got there. A family resemblance suggested she was brown-hair’s mother, although I can’t be sure. She graciously thanked me for helping out. I braced for more embarrassment, but I needn’t have worried.

The choking woman sat at her cash register while we ate, made phone calls on her earpiece, ran out to her Lexus SUV parked in the front, and was overheard to mention to someone that “the Botox injections make it hard to swallow”.

The breakfast was, as expected, no big deal – and the order was screwed up. Served us right for going there. When I paid my bill to brown-hair I did get a thanks for what I did.

Which beats getting a lawsuit.

4 Responses to “Hard To Merge, Hard To Breathe, Hard To Believe”

  1. November 21, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Wow. I think if someone saved me from choking, I’d pop for breakfast.

    That’s pretty crappy about gettin’ the rear-ending. I hope you’re feeling better than you look in the picture.

  2. 2 Greg Dunlap
    November 21, 2008 at 10:38 am


    That sucks.

    Hope you’re both doing OK.

  3. November 22, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Obviously, I wish you a speedy recovery; the whole thing sounds terrible. But she didn’t buy you guys breakfast? I don’t know if there’s an etiquette for situations like this, but that one seems pretty obvious. I hope you can avoid ERs and public near-death incidents for at least a few months going forward.

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1984-89: Defoliants
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November 2008
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