Encounter with a killer?
By Mark Alexander
Of the many inquiries we’ve received from Patriots since our inception in 1996, one recurring question that I have not devoted a column to takes this form: "What’s a day at The Patriot Post like?"
Suffice it to say that we in our humble editorial shop are consumed by editing and publishing deadlines; design, software and technology infrastructure demands; and all the additional challenges of operating a small business in the worst economy since Jimmy Carter was in office.
On our Patriot Post website, we have dedicated pages for our Editorial Team and National Advisory Committee, and both my bio and a brief history of The Patriot Post are available. I have started "a day in the life" column a few times over the years, but, inevitably, addressing some liberal mischief takes precedence.
As I noted last week in my column on the 2016 presidential candidate remarks at the NRA Convention, it's a rare occasion when I’m able to take a few elective travel days for something as pleasant as hanging out with 80,000 2A advocates in a great town like Nashville.
Most often, "time off" means some obligation connected with collateral responsibilities, and this week it means attending the annual National Security Forum, this year being held at the Air War College.
However, in order not to completely drop off the radar this week, my editors suggested I tell you about a day in my life two weeks ago, which took a few amusing turns. I had written this narrative for my children, who are spread across the country, but have adapted it as a column — so if you don't like narratives that involve blood, blame them!
Thursday and Friday are the only days of each week when I can take outside meetings or handle other business. Such was the case on the morning of Thursday, April 16. My wife was out of town, our 16-year-old son — the only one of our three children left at home (poor kid) — was off to school, and I set out for an early appointment to undergo minor surgery.
The surgery went fine. “Take it easy,” they told me (which I assume meant no heavy lifting), and I was out the door and back to work by 10:30 a.m.
After a late-morning business meeting, I stopped by a large box store around noon to purchase a pair of hiking shoes. While in the shoe department, I noticed my shirt was wet — from the rain, I’d assumed, since it’d been raining buckets in Chattanooga of late, including more than four inches since daybreak on top of six inches the previous two days.
This wasn’t rainfall, however. It was arterial bleeding. I’d sprung a leak through the fresh four-inch incision below my right rib cage. This was an aggravating discovery, because I knew it was going to wreck my afternoon schedule. (Those of you who are small business owners know exactly what I mean.)
Fortunately, there was an abundant supply of shoe-stuffing tissue there in the shoe department, wads of which I grabbed and began to press against my shirt at the point of the leak. (Most of my "friends" would have counseled me to rub some dirt on it and move on, but I thought it best to stop the leak first. Improvise, adapt and overcome!)
Before I reached the front of the store, my right hand and all that wadding was drenched in blood, and the right side of my clothing had become a deep crimson. I can assure you that the store’s other patrons were clearing a path for my exit, certain I’d been shanked or shot.
(Stick with me here, it gets better!)
I got back in my truck and kept up the compression during a torrential 25-minute drive back to the surgeon's office. No big deal — they reopened my incision, cleaned me up, cauterized the leak (the only time I prefer to see meat well done), sutured me up again and sent me back out the door.
Now, with the exception of the fact that the right side of my clothing was soaked in blood and my truck seat and console looked like somebody had a very bad day, I was ready to get back on schedule and headed to my office. (When you work in front of a computer, it really doesn't care how your clothing looks.)
Coming back through town in even heavier rain, my phone's flash flood alert sounded off (this time because of rainfall, not arterial bleeding). I took the regular exit off I-24 to get to our office, and was confronted by a vehicle coming toward me on a one-way street. Chattanooga has lots of great tourist attractions, and that often means some poor family in a minivan has taken a wrong turn.
Two hundred feet down that road, however, were two tractor-trailers side-by-side, and they were blocking two of the three westbound lanes. I realized there was substantial flooding across the road in front of them.
Beyond the trucks, there was a hundred-foot stretch of road submerged beneath about two feet of water. And in the middle of that temporary river was a lone stranded vehicle with at least one occupant inside.
Realizing that the water was rising and not knowing the age or condition of those inside the vehicle, I drove my very capable Ram 3500 turbo diesel (fondly referred to around here as the "urban assault vehicle") past the two semis and surged through the water until I reached the stranded car. (Ladies and gentlemen, PLEASE do not attempt to drive your compact sedan through two feet of water!)
Pulling to within a foot of the driver's door, I found a young woman alone in the car, frantically talking on her cell phone. Conversing through our open windows, I highly recommended that she get into my truck and let me take her to the safety of higher ground. She was quick to comply, climbing through her window and onto the step rail of my truck.
But when she opened the passenger door, she just stared at me ... JUST STARED. She didn’t get in, even as her car began to bob in the rising water.
It was at that moment that I realized all she could see was some guy in a big truck, whose clothing, seat and console were covered in blood.
I’m quite sure she surmised her prospects for survival were much better if she stayed in her car rather than getting into some blood-soaked stranger's truck. Eventually, I was able to assure her that I wasn’t a mad-dog killer, but merely the victim of a shoddy surgical suture.
She finally stepped into my truck and I drove her to the other side of the flooded area and a block down the road to the nearest fuel station, where she was no doubt pleased to exit my vehicle onto dry ground.
I’m pretty sure she had TWO good stories to tell to her family that evening. My only regret is that I didn’t think to snap a picture of her facial expression upon opening my truck door.
And so it was back to work — back to another day in the life of your Patriot Post Publisher.
I'll be back next week with a more suitable essay.
Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.