The little toy fire truck
Sunday July 14th 2013, 10:48 pm
Filed under: History,Life

There was an article in today’s Mercury News and I found myself wanting to throw out the hype and the extraneous and, for the sake of his children in time to come, distill it down to its essence re a man who’d been away from his family on what I assume was a business trip; while overseas, he’d bought some toy fire trucks to bring home to his little ones.

The in-flight movie was a foreign film about firefighters rescuing people.

He thinks, gratefully, that that put him in the frame of mind to react well in what would happen next: he was in the emergency seat aisle and next to the window, and he wrestled that door open on that Asiana flight in San Francisco that had just crashed and then, instead of riding the slide to the ground to safety, he shouted to his fellow passengers so they could know there was a way out and he stayed to help.

Someone screamed MOVE! and smacked and walked on one already-hurt woman trying to protect her daughter, someone hit her, at least one man in utter panic adding injury to injury, people pushing and shoving and grabbing for their bags, impeding the exodus from the plane as the smoke came at them; but the man by the emergency chute helped the woman and her daughter to safety.

And dozens of others.

That man was later grateful that in such pain and chaos the best had come out of him, that what he would so hope his response to others would be actually had been, and he clearly ached for those who’d panicked and done terrible things. For those who now have to live with themselves for not doing right by their fellow passengers–that would be so much harder, and how could you ever know in advance how you would react, maybe blindly like that… He asked that people not judge them.

He was so glad that movie had been the one shown. He wondered maybe that had made the difference for him?

His compassion for those who’d responded poorly in such primal fear moved me deeply.  He wondered if he could just as easily have gone that way too, but thank heavens he had not.

He got home. He told his children nothing; they were too young to handle or understand such an enormity as he’d just experienced, and so he protected them, too.

And his little boy, playing happily with his brand new fire truck, out of the blue and with no prompting whatever exclaimed in delight, “Let’s go save some people, Daddy!”


(Edited to add, Thank you, Ben Levy, sir.)

5 Comments so far
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What a beautiful tale. I’m so glad it was shared. No coincidences.

Comment by Channon 07.15.13 @ 7:05 am

nothing without a reason — thank you for sharing this story!

Comment by bev 07.15.13 @ 8:04 am

I get the feeling, given the youngster’s response, that this gentleman was already prepared to respond as he did.

Comment by Donald Meyer 07.15.13 @ 9:14 am

It’s so hard to know how one will react under such circumstances. The fact that he asks us not to judge those who didn’t show the patience and compassion they might have indicates to me the movie probably had little to do with his response.

Comment by Shelly H 07.15.13 @ 7:36 pm

I wonder how many people will be saved by the telling of this story here? It is one more drop in our buckets of compassion and courage, and it may be the drop that fills the bucket and gives us the courage to do the right thing. Thank you for sharing it, and thank you, Ben, for inspiring the sharing.

Comment by twinsetellen 07.17.13 @ 6:40 pm

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