Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Everyday Heroes #4: My Personal Superhero

The Everyday Hero for this month was pretty easy to pick.  I didn't have to go looking for it online at all because it came to me.  When I needed a hero the most, one ordinary person rose up and became my superhero.

The prologue to this story is that I was going to Auburn Hills, over by the outlet mall to get lunch and eventually do some writing.  Plus I wanted to check out the Bargain Books store for a certain book I'd been pursuing.

Perhaps I should have considered it a sign or omen that thanks to construction, traffic was backed up for miles.  It seriously took an hour to get about 3 miles on the highway.  I should probably have turned around somewhere and gone someplace else, but I'm nothing if not stubborn.

I went to this Chinese restaurant I've been to numerous times over the years.  Everything was going pretty smoothly, although perhaps I was eating a little faster than usual (which is still fast) because of the traffic jam messing up my schedule.  I had gotten some of these fried shrimp they usually had, though I noticed they seemed a little overcooked so they were pretty hard.  I started breaking them up with my fork to make them easier to chew.

But I didn't break up one piece enough!  One moment everything was fine and the next, a piece of shrimp had become lodged in my throat.  We've all had times where something has a little trouble going down, but this was different.  This was completely stuck in my windpipe so that I could not breathe.

The first thing I did was get up to try and summon help.  So I'm standing there wheezing and clawing at my throat.  But no help was coming it seemed like.  People just kind of stared and sat there.

To my credit, I did know what to do.  I turned around and tried to get it out myself with the back of a chair.  The problem was these chairs had these really high backs, so I couldn't really get the right spot.  I did manage as well to wheeze "HELP!"

At that point I didn't see my life flashing before my eyes or visions of Heaven or Hell or anything like that.  Mostly my thinking was, "Oh shit, I'm going to die and all these people are just letting it happen.  Why don't these slack-jawed yokels DO SOMETHING!?"  (I mean not in so many words, but that was my feeling.)

Then finally, cue the heroic fanfare, someone grabs me from behind and starts giving me the Heimlich.  I don't think it was exactly the textbook Heimlich maneuver, but after four or five tries it got the job done.  The piece of shrimp didn't come shooting out of my mouth like a slapstick comedy, but it did finally vacate my windpipe so I could breathe.

But it's funny how the mind works in a crisis because as he's giving me the Heimlich all I can think is that my pants are falling down.  So I grabbed onto my belt so they wouldn't fall down.  Because I guess I wanted to die with dignity or something.

I was saved!  I thanked my hero (twice) and then he returned to his seat in the back of the restaurant.  In the great superheroic tradition I didn't get his name.  All I do know is if he'd just sat there like everyone else, I'd have most likely died that afternoon from a little piece of shrimp.  Life is a fragile thing indeed.

So obviously that anonymous hero had to be this month's Everyday Hero.  I mean it's pretty automatic that if you save my worthless hide you get this award.  So if you ever want to be an Everyday Hero just find me and save my life and you're in.

Now the obvious message in this is you should really know the Heimlich and CPR.  If it's been a while, you should probably sign up for a class.  Whatever you do, don't just sit there and stare while someone is DYING!!!  Trust me, that feels really lousy.  I mean dying is bad enough but when you have all these people standing around doing nothing?  That really sucks.  All right, so be like my hero and learn what to do so you too can be an Everyday Hero when the time comes.  If you're too lazy for that, here's a YouTube video on different ways to do the Heimlich.

If someone has saved your life or that of someone you know, you can always nominate them for recognition.  Isn't that almost the least you can do?  I'm just saying.  

BTW, this is completely off-topic, but if you want four free ebooks for the Kindle, just go here between now and Sunday! 

Tomorrow instead of heroes we talk about a villain with the Vengeance of Bane comics...


  1. Wow! What a fabulous story. Just think, if that person hadn't been there I wouldn't be writing this comment right now. I was once pulled out of a river by a guy in a canoe, but nothing like what you describe. I'm shaking just thinking about what could have been a tragic outcome.

  2. This is why I don't eat seafood...

    Wow. That's a great story, and pretty chilling at the same time. I mean, people are a lot more suspicious these days in general, but you don't just sit there whilst someone chokes to death.

    Hats off to your mystery saviour. You absolutely should have got his name, though. Also, I want details: age, height, hair colour, build, ethnicity, accent, clothes. Come on man -- you're a writer!

    Final thought: no-one wants "Died from a rogue piece of shrimp" on their headstone.

  3. Glad someone saved you! They were Dilloway's Scarlet Knight!

  4. Great story Pat. Especially the pants falling down. I'd have done the same thing. It's funny how the guy saved your life and then went back to his Lo Mein like it was no big deal. Glad I took that CPR class.

  5. Wow, awesome story! I'm very happy you didn't like, you know, die.

    And, as someone who lived in the Detroit area in the 80's and 90's (Auburn Hills, Flint, Warren), let me just add: Congested traffic on I-75? Impossible. ;^)

    And I'm glad I know CPR and the Heimlich! Thanks for the update for anyone who might not!

  6. Wow. Scary stuff. I suppose that we can't always choose the manner that we die, but I doubt many of us will go with our dignity intact. I'm glad you're around a little longer.

  7. Very scary stuff, Patrick. It makes me want to go out and eat from now on. Living by myself, if I don't watch it, I'll choke on something and have no one around to help and end up dead on the floor.

  8. My friend, a superhero moment at its most profound. And thankfully, you are, thanks to your superhero, around to tell this thought provoking posting.
    Stay well.



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