Friday, June 8, 2012

My friend, Mr. Know it All

I have a friend who literally defines the phrase, "Know it All".  His name is Karl*.  He is extremely intelligent, and I often teased him about being a 'well of useless information'.  He seems to know something about everything. Being an avid sportsman, Karl's interests included survival techniques.  Years before reality television, Karl was the 'go to' guy for answers on how to successfully survive a 'rogue' camel excursion, and tips on what not to eat if you find yourself stranded in the remote and frozen regions of Northern Belarus.  I have often wondered if he is one of the collaborating masterminds behind 'Survivor TV'.  But, being the private guy that he is, he would never say.  If asked, he would just laugh.
Yes, my friend Karl has lived a life full of adventures that would make rock stars, thrill seekers, and Prince Harry green with envy! To learn of his experiences, you have to either be with him at the time, or be the girl calling him on the phone, shortly afterward, for help with her homework.
I happened to fit into the latter category.  You see, I was writing a paper for a Summer course I was taking, and was looking for some 'intellectual feedback'.  I called him, and began our conversation by asking, "How are you?"
To my surprise, 'Mr Know it All', replied, "I'm not sure".
He said that he had the most unusual morning, and proceeded to tell me a story that changed someone's life.  And mine as well.
At the time, Karl was a University Student, who had taken a Summer job working for a computer gaming store.  He had worked 7 days in a row, and this day was suppose to be his day off.  He was looking forward to going climbing with a friend, but his manager had called him and asked him if he could fill in for an employee at a location across town.  My ever reliable friend reluctantly said he would.  He had decided to park 10 miles away from the store, and run to the location.  Making his way there, Karl witnessed a horrible accident. The driver of a brand new Mustang spun out of control, swerved around into an outbound lane, and hit a pole at a high rate of speed, right before his very eyes.
  Karl said he couldn't actually remember running to the vehicle, but it seemed like a second later, he was inside the hissing, steaming wreckage.  He found that a young man, probably a High School Senior, was the driver, and the only occupant of the vehicle.  He was breathing, but unconscious, and badly contorted about from behind his seatbelt. The young mans 's torso was the only part of his body that was in a natural position.  Nothing seemed to be where it was suppose to be.  Quickly and carefully, Karl positioned the driver to support neck, and discovered the most disturbing image of this mass 'luxation'.  The young man's eyeball had escaped from it's socket, and was hanging off his face by the optic nerve!  Karl quickly removed his shirt, wrapped his hands and replaced the young man's eye.  He stayed with him, bracing him until the EMTs arrived.  My 'Know it All' friend was able to put his 'well of useless information to use'. The result was the preservation of a precious sensory organ and perhaps even a young man's life.
  The story was on the news, in the papers the next day.  Upon request, Karl's identity was 'anonymous'.  He wanted no recognition for his heroic act, and was rewarded with the knowledge that he made a choice that greatly benefitted another person's life.
To this day, the young man has no idea of his hero's name, or what he looks like.  But he knows what happened, and hopefully he has, or will find a way to extend kindness and act selflessly for the benefit of someone else.
I did not get the 'intellectual feedback' I was looking for when I called Karl that day.  But, it no longer seemed so important. I think Karl was still working through the shock of it all, and needed to talk it out.  I felt privileged to be able to help him process his experience.  It has changed my life because it proved to me that there are people in this world who will 'rise to the occasion' simply because they can.  I believe that whether or not we realize it, our interests and experiences prepare us for miraculous things.  We may not all be 'Know it All's, but we all know something that has the potential to change, and benefit someone's life.  
* name was changed to continue to protect anonymity.                                                                                JMK

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