Wanna hear the first time I think I ever saved a life?
I was a young and scrawny 17 year old. By looking at me, you could tell that I did every sport known to me at that time, that involved endurance. Always being involved in a sport or stuck home because I was bad kept me from being able to do a lot of things that all of the kids were doing. One of those things were school dances.
In middle school we went to all of the dances but that was because my mother was a chaperone. That ended once we hit high school. This was our senior year and I probably went to 1 dance before. Well that night was the night! The moons were aligned or something because everything worked in our favor. We were able to go to our senior homecoming dance. We didn’t even have any pushback from mom. We called up the crew, set the night up and got ready.
Before we left, our mom told us the rules and what behavior she expected from us. We knew that we never get opportunities like this so we promised to be good boys. We jumped in my moms burgundy Rodeo on 20’s and just knew we were fly. We get to the dance and meet up with the crew. The dance was definitely what I expected it to be.
Time went by and we see that it’s almost time for us to start heading back. Luckily for us, neither my brother or myself could feel our phones vibrating in our pockets and definitely couldn’t hear it ringing over the music. So most of the night away. Before it got TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO late we decided to head out. We called mommy and said that we were sorry and that we lost track of time.
She was beyond pissed but her boyfriend at the time was able to calm her down. We asked if we could grab a bite to eat then head home. Wish granted. The two cars pulled away. My brother and I in the Rodeo and my boy Andres was driving his girl, at the time, and my best friend Enid. Im not sure whether it was Denny’s or Ihop that we stopped at.. All I know is that the food was good. This is the juicy part.
We are following behind Andres as he takes Enid home. Austin is on the phone going back and forth with my mom and her bf trying to explain why we are taking so long. I slide forward a little as Austin pumps the brake.
“Oh shoot. Hey I’m so sorry but I have to call you back. We just missed our turn!”
While Austin was distracted by the call, Andres turned into the apartments that Enid lived. When austin realized it, he got off the phone and was looking for a place to do a u-turn. The nearest entrance was a car wash across the street. When we made that left turn to enter, Austin slammed on the brakes. Both of our eyes were locked on a lady sitting on the ground, inching her way backwards with her feet. Her left hand keeping her from falling on her back and her right hand extended all the way in front of her trying to shield her face.
She was shielding her face from a man in a camouflage bandanna that was wrapped around his face like an old western. He was pointing a pistol right at her face. It took my brother and I a second to realize what was going. The man turned away and ran as we went for the doors.
The lady got up and ran away screaming. She thought that we were with the guy in the mask. As this is happening, Andres is pulling into car wash. We lock eyes, nod and instinctively move. Andres gets out of the car as I am taking off my suit. We all give chase in the direction that the man went. We were knocking on doors and jumping peoples fences looking for this guy but found nothing.
I don’t know how long we were gone but by the time we got back to the car wash, there were red and blue lights everywhere. We walk up and tell the cops who we were and they wanted to know what happened. Before I got the chance to really respond, this lady ran up to me and gave me the biggest hug. Hugged me so hard that I could feel her tears dripping through my shirt. Once she calmed down we asked her what she was doing at this car wash that late at night and in that neighborhood?
She said that she was a firefighter. She just got of her shift, which I learned is a few days long. When she got off, she picked up a vehicle that she bought as an anniversary gift. She wanted to wash it, take pictures of it and then set it up decorated on the driveway. While she was washing the car, she was attacked by the man. She attempted to spray him with the hose but once she walked too far, it yanked out of her hand. He pistol whipped her and pointed the gun at her. He demanded to have her camera and anything of value. She handed him the camera but said she didn’t have anything else. He threatened to count to 3 and my brother and I drove in when he counted to 2.
It broke my heart to hear that but this is what put it into perspective for me. What she says next showed me the depth of what I just did. She pointed across the street to a crowd of people being questioned. Supposedly a lot of people had something to say. She looked at us and said “All those grown ass men just sat there and watched me. Now, they want to help knowing they are getting a little attention but the hero’s were children coming from a dance. Ripped off their suits and chased a man with a gun. And after all of that, they still came and check up on me before they talk to the cops.”
That day felt amazing. To this day I still see those three 17 year old boys as heroes. Of course, when we get home, we get the “That’s why I never let ya’ll do anything!” lecture but that night was worth it. I think that night birthed a few heroes.
Out of all those years, I still think about that lady and wish I remembered what she looked like or knew her name. I often wonder if she ever talks about the day a first responder was saved by a unique set of first responders.