Monday, November 16, 2015

Back Into Perspective

Adam started fueling my plane less than 6 months ago.

30 years old, seven years in the Army, two tours in Iraq, married, seven month old daughter, going to college to complete his Bachelors, and working part time at the local Fixed Based Operator keeping airplanes washed  and fueled to make ends meet.

He would listen to tower frequency and when he heard me coming in for a landing he'd fire up the fuel truck and meet me at my hangar - I never had to call for fuel when Adam was on duty.

He told his supervisor that he liked fueling Forty One Mike because I was "nice."

It was curious when his supervisor drove the fueling truck to meet me Friday after returning from Vegas. She said Adam was "no longer with us."

I thought he had quit or was fired. My facial expression conveyed that.

"No, I mean, Adam died..."

I was floored. I just saw him - he fueled Forty One Mike on Tuesday for my Vegas departure.

He left work at 3:30, said his supervisor, went home to get his motorcycle, and was killed when the driver of an SUV made a left hand turn directly into the path of Adam. There was no room or time to maneuver. Adam died instantly.

That I was "nice" made the news particularly biting.

Alison was my college girlfriend for a couple of years. We stayed in touch after that relationship ended. She went through a couple of husbands, and had a son and daughter.

The last couple of years I did not have much communication with her. She told me she was writing a novel, and that a character in her story was based on me. I thought that was flattering.

I knew she was sick, and guessed it was cancer.

I saw some photos of her on Facebook - she did not look healthy, or happy.

After about a year of battling brain cancer she died about two weeks ago at age 56.

Woody was in the Army. At 24, he was the only child of my cousin, police officer Joey. I got the text message Saturday.

He was found, unresponsive, in his barracks after a night of drinking with his buddies. CPR failed.

And of course the Paris ISIS attacks removed from this existence 129 people who had no inkling their time was up. One was a 23 year old Long Beach State college student finishing up her senior year with studies abroad.

Nohemi Gonzalez won't graduate.

I think about workers' compensation all the time. It seems big. There are billions of dollars involved. There are tens of millions of people impacted. Goods and services reflect the cost of this social program. People get hurt. People get medical care. Some get denied. Some people get money for disability. Some go back to work, others don't. Some people cheat. Some get cheated.

Some people die.

And every once in a while, it all gets put back into perspective.

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