Wednesday, June 27, 2007


It can always be worse

Most people know or at least have heard that 20 years ago I broke my back. I fell off of a house drunk at a party one night in Los Altos hills CA and fell approx. 50 feet. This caused tons of damage to my back, I crushed 3 vertebrae and cracked 6 others. I then proceeded to baffle the hospital staff by enduring 3 CAT scans, and a litany of reasons why I needed three of them, machine wasn’t calibrated, the machine was broken, and finally “Well we don’t know how you did it..but you don’t have any nerve damage and you’ll be walking out of here Sunday” that was a week after I went in.

But why am I telling what most people know anyway? Because I had to wear a brace for 45 days after the accident to keep my spine straight so my vertebras would mend. During this time of sitting up straight and wheeling myself around campus in my rental wheel chair ( my brace didn’t allow for bending the right way to fit into the college desks) I learned a very important lesson from a very unsuspecting person.

I was standing in “Joes U Save liquors” , the groovy liquor store by my apartment that was extremely lax on carding people, buying a 12 pack to help with the pain killers that didn’t seem to work unless I added a beer or 10. So I’m standing in line waiting my turn to pay, vaguely wondering if Joe was going to card me this time(he was lax, but sometimes he would bust your balls just to be busting them), when I hear a voice behind me say “Wow, did you break some ribs or something?”

I didn’t bother to turn around I just said loudly “Not ribs, I broke my back”.

“Jesus, how did that happen?”
Again without turning I gave the cliff notes version of what happened, and moved forward to pay for my beer. Joe didn’t card me and as I waited for my change I heard the guy say, “ Well it could have been worse.”
I turn around to ask this talkie Mcspeakerson, “how the fuck does he think it could be worse, with a all league football player with 4 full ride scholarship offers, and now a broken back more than likely ending his illustrious albeit short career..what the fuck could be worse about this situation?”

Before I spoke and as I turned, I got a look at who I was conversing with. There was a man standing there shirtless, wearing cut off jean shorts, covered in tattoos, holding a 12 pack in one hand and a hand carved wooden crutch under the other arm, and as my anger cooled I looked down and saw that his leg was amputated at the crotch.
My mouth froze. My brain stopped and I knew he was absolutely right. Things could be worse. I looked him in the eyes and replied, “You got that fucking right, thanks man”

Now when I get to the end of my rope at work or even at home and I am tired of dealing with assholes, and clients and I am trying to find a reason not to get my pistols, and go on a tri state killing spree I always remember that guy, his missing leg, and the fact that no matter how bad it is it could always be worse.

It can always be worse.

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