For the last two weeks, I’ve had back-to-back trainings in Indiana. I’ve never trained here before and I must say that this place seems to have it out for me…
I was at my home airport for hours waiting for my flight to Dayton, Ohio—delay after delay, after delay. I finally landed in Dayton at around 5:30 p.m., which was about three hours later than I had expected. I still had to drive to the “middle of nowhere” Indiana, which was going to take about 1 1/2 hours.
About half way through the trip, it started to pour. The sky was really dark with low lying clouds. The landscape looked like a pancake—flat! I drove past miles and miles of flooded fields that looked more like lakes than fields. I came across two roads that were closed because of flooding. There were no detour signs, so I had to guess which way to go. With about 30 minutes left, I lost my cellular signal. I was lost and there was nobody around to ask directions, even if I had wanted to.
I thought it looked like a tornado could be brewing, but I had no way of knowing for sure. I kept myself pointed in the right direction, and on a wing and a prayer, I finally found my hotel. The town where I was teaching must have been in some kind of cellular dead-zone because I didn’t have service for the entire week. Ugh!
I don’t have time for this Indiana!
Fast forward to this week. I flew back to Dayton, and the trip in was uneventful. After landing I drove back into Indiana, and this time the drive was only about thirty minutes.
A few days later, I was in my hotel, and the TV show that I was watching was interrupted by a local weather report. There were tornado warnings in multiple counties including where I was staying.
The newscaster repeatedly said to get to a low level of the building. I was on the 4th floor of the hotel, which was the highest floor, so I listened to what he said! I went down to the lobby and I saw that the room was filled with many other nervous looking guests. Some were pacing around, while others were watching out the back windows and the back door. It felt comforting to be around other people, even though they were strangers.
I was standing in the 1/2 opened back door of the lobby with another woman, and we chatted with each other as we watched the thunderstorm raging above us. We turned around when we heard a woman yelling in the lobby. At first it was hard to understand what she was saying, but we finally figured out that she couldn’t find her husband, and she sounded panicked.
“Bob! Bob! Where are you? Has anyone seen my husband?”
At that same moment, I heard a man scream in the back parking lot. “Barbara! Where are you?”
I looked out the door and saw an older man running down the sidewalk towards me. I watched him trip and soar headlong into a metal fence. When he hit the fence, he screamed out in pain. I ran out and was the first to arrive at his side. His head was jammed into the fence and his body was completely sprawled out—partially in the gravel, and partially on the sidewalk.
As I bent over him, I could hear him moaning and he kept saying, “Oh no,” over and over again. I asked him his name and I tried to settle him down him down by talking as calmly as possible. “Bob—my name is Candee.”
Another man, who I later found out was named Joe, ran out of the building and squatted next to us. Bob kept saying that he was scared of being on the metal fence. When I asked if anything hurt, he replied, “My neck, I think I broke it!”
The only way I can describe how he looked, was that he reminded me of something that I experienced a long time ago at summer camp. We were on an outing and the camp bus hit a large bird.
The bus driver pulled into a parking lot, and all of the campers piled off the bus. We saw that a hawk was stuck in the grill/bumper. The bird’s head was jammed in so far that we couldn’t see it, and its body dangled in a twisted, awkward way. We were sure that it had broken its neck, and that it was probably dead.
The bus driver pulled and tugged on the hawk trying to free it, but at first it didn’t budge. When the driver tried again, the bird popped out, causing the driver to fall to the ground. The hawk hit the ground next to him, but landed on its feet. We watched the bird shake its wings and tail, and to our surprise, it flew away.
Unfortunately, I didn’t think Bob was going to fair as well the hawk. Every time that the thunder boomed over head, Bob reacted. “Get me off of this fence!”
I looked at Joe and he asked, “Do you think that we should move him?” I could tell that he was keenly aware, as I was, that we were still in the middle of a tornado warning.
I also knew Bob was terrified, but I didn’t want to injure him further. “Bob, what do you want us to do?”
“Get me off of this fence!” He wailed again.
Joe and I decided that if Bob could roll himself over, we would support him as he did it. I told Bob the plan, and he literally couldn’t extract his head from the fence, no matter how hard he tried. His shoulder was at a weird angle, and his head was pinned—just like the hawk.
Someone handed us a jacket, which we balled up under Bob’s head and neck to relieve some of the pressure. “Bob, what do you want us to do—do we need to call 911?”
“Yes,” he answered immediately.
I rubbed his back, and I tried to keep his mind occupied by talking to him. He finally couldn’t handle the terror any longer and he screamed, “I have to get off of this fence!”
Joe and I looked at each other for reassurance, and we tried as gently as we could to dislodge him and roll him over. It was hard to do, but we finally did it. When we rolled him over, we discovered that he had a lump the size of an egg on his forehead where he had hit the fence. To our surprise, we also saw that his blow to the head had bent the fence.
He was now on his back with the jacket under his head, but he seemed even more worried, because he was now looking directly at the storm above us. I began to rub his belly, and we continued to talk to him, asking any question that we could think of. I was deeply worried about him losing consciousness.
At one point, because I was running out of ideas, I took a shot at humor. “Bob…you picked a bad night to fall into a fence.”
He opened his eyes and replied, “Shit—oh, pardon my French—oh, shit!”
It was cute and funny all at the same time. Joe and I stayed by his side until the emergency crew showed up. We later found out that he has dementia. He and his wife were driving to Dayton, but had pulled off the highway because of the weather. They both got out of the car—she walked to the front door of the hotel, but for some reason he didn’t see her. He panicked and ran around the side of the building, and then found himself on the back side of the hotel. When she turned around in the lobby, she realized that he hadn’t followed her, so that’s when she started to panic.
After the ambulance left, Joe and I chatted with each other for a few minutes, and we decided that we made a pretty good team, and that we had worked well together. I found out later that at least five tornados had touched down that night.
Indiana—I’m serious—stop it!
The next day, I came out for work and discovered that my car had been “bombed” with the biggest poop splotch that I had ever seen. It must have been a pterodactyl, because nothing that you could say would convince me that any normal bird could do that! What else, Indiana? What else do you have for me? What did I ever do to you?
Oh—severe thunderstorms tonight! Yippee! On second thought…maybe it will wash away the pterodactyl poop!