Thursday, March 19, 2015

Five Things We Should Carry in the Car

I love my husband. If I could go back in time and pick a moment in life to alter, I wouldn't change a thing. Whatever rocky path I walked, hills I climbed, or valleys I crawled out of, it led me to the pot at the end of the rainbow. That's right. It led me to him. He's my mystical unicorn, the kind I thought did not exist: selfless, kind, loving, and gentle, with me; but ruthless, strong and vicious if he knows his family is threatened. 

With that said, I miss him. I miss him because he also has another love, a love for people and the need to protect and serve his community from those who wish to do them harm. He lives by a code of honor that calls him for duty every day no matter how sick or tired he may be. You see, my husband is a law enforcement officer. I don't know what wives go through who live under this type of circumstance, but I do know that this profession can wear on the family structure if you let it. I also know that in order for a family in this situation to thrive and succeed she must carry herself with a certain amount of independence, along with a list of well wishes or prayers to ensure that her man returns home safe at the end of his shift. I'm sure, though, that I'm not the only who feels this way when I see him leave.

You see, despite the fact that my husband knows I have a certain skill set that helps increase my chances of surviving dangerous situations, I know he worries about my welfare every day, both physical and emotional. He thinks I don't notice, but I see it in his eyes when he says goodbye with that solemn look of doubt that leaves me sensing that sometimes he wonders whether he's doing the right thing or chose the right profession every time he walks out the door. So I've learned to let him care for me the way he feels will help him be at ease if he can find some semblance of assurance from knowing that I will be okay. I don't know if most husbands go through something similar when they're away from home, but it seems to me that a husband in law enforcement has this "hyper aware" sense of DANGER, because they deal with the darker side of life on a close and personal level, so he feels an obligatory sense of duty to ensure that everyone else in the family inherits the same gene. 

I try to refrain from the classic eye rolls and exasperating breaths every time he feels the need to remind me that I need to maintain a sense of situational awareness when I'm out and about-- of which I'm aware... duh... as it's one of Krav Maga's core teachings, but I refrain from voicing that. He tosses constant reminders about where to keep my gun, how to use and clean it, his consistent hen-pecking about ensuring that I have a bug out bag at my disposal in case I need to split town at a moment's notice, and his incessant need to stick flares in my car, along with a heavy duty flashlight that will burn right through your hand, by the way, if left at a high setting.
my purse...shh! but aka satchel
Not to mention the extra new pair of batteries he'll toss in my purse, just in case the flashlight drains. 
Ooo, sorry, I meant to say, SATCHEL. The purse....ahem... a.k.a. satchel... is one I inherited from him, and I've been thoroughly informed that it- is- NOT- a PURSE! Although that's what I use it for, but anyway all of that is just enough to drive a cop's wife a little BATTY, sometimes, if you know what I mean. Regardless, he thinks I'm not listening, but I do. 

This weekend I was involved in a three-car collision pile up. Exiting a highway, the person in front of me came to a sudden stop due to backed up traffic. I managed to stop in time, and the person behind me stopped in time, but the third one rammed into her. This caused the second vehicle to whip forward and hit us from behind. My kid was in the front seat, and she bit her lip with the impact. Both of us were a little sore from our neck and back, but we walked out of it unscathed and so did my vehicle. Let me tell you guys, the next time you scoff at the thought of buying a minivan, think again. Mine survived with a tiny dent left on its rear bumper. Mmm-hmm... can I get an Amen...and thank YOU Toyota??? Snap! Snap!

The second vehicle wasn't so lucky, though. She had a baby in the back seat and his car seat jammed when they were crushed from behind. Thankfully, he was not harmed but the mother sliced her finger trying to get him out. The third car was completely totaled, as more vehicles zoomed by at ridiculous speeds. 

I told my kid to pull out the first aid kit, and I remembered I had five flares in my car... yes... alright, I'll admit it, the very flares my man insisted I must carry inside my vehicle's emergency bag. So I yanked out three. 

We were fortunate enough to have good citizens come out of nowhere and offer to help-- faith in humanity restored, by the way. One of them set the flares up for me, and traffic exiting the highway slowed down to a cautious pace as they were able to see the flares on the road. The woman in the second vehicle had a cell phone but the battery was drained and borrowed mine to make a call. 

It wasn't a devastating experience...well... for my kid it was, and now I have to figure out how to get mine to sit on the front seat again, but I know it could've been much worse, so it did shake me somewhat. This whole incident got me thinking about how easy it is to become complacent and take life completely for granted. "What if I didn't have these things in my vehicle?" I thought. I remembered an instructor who love to drill this saying into his students in Krav Maga, "Being PREPARED for a dangerous situation is not PARANOID! You must always be PREPARED!" he would bark in that scruffy drill sergeant voice that makes every one take notice.

I believe, that in addition to having a self-defense skill set, there are some things that mothers, daughters, all of us as a matter-of-fact, should always carry in our vehicles should we find ourselves in an emergency situation and in need of assistance. Now, keep in mind that region may vary, and I'm sure that there are other things you might need if you live in the snow-filled mountains of Montana, for example, but I found these items extremely useful for my neck of the woods. Aside from the standard equipment of battery jumper cables, and a tire changing kit, these five things could prove to be life-saving:

1. Water- In Texas, with mother nature's testy hormonal changes of freezing cold to tongue parched heat in one day, I always carry a bottle or two with me everywhere I go, but I don't leave it in my car if I intend to drink it. It can be used as a rinsing agent or simply for hydration. We stood outside that accident for close to two hours in the hot sun. My kid was flushed red from the heat. That water definitely helped.

2. First Aid kit- I like to get the ones equipped with everything but the kitchen sink, but if you're on a budget, make sure it at least has band-aids, antiseptic, scissors, gauze and those crystal ice bags that you squeeze and they get ice cold. It is especially useful if there's swelling involved from an impact.

3. Flares- You can buy those at any Academy and they come in handy should you find yourself in a high traffic area at the scene of an accident to serve as a warning for other vehicles. And although I don't like to travel long distances at night, if you are left stranded on an isolated road, those flares are extremely useful to signal for help. Unless of course, you end up with the hatchet serial killer who likes to comb for individuals on the side of the road, then I would have to say you're toast. Sorry, didn't mean to pull out the dramatics, but I just had to add my two cents about how much I dislike traveling long distances at night. Night travel seems to invite a higher element of risk, but if you find you MUST do so, those flares are important.

4. Cell phone- make sure it is fully charged, always, but I'm going to pull out my motherly warning hat and advise that you PLEASE not text and drive, or take SELFIES in the middle of the road for that matter. Yes, someone actually did that when I was driving with my family last week, and it's rare that I want to say that I want to physically hurt someone, but I really did want to stop and give her some assistance by offering to rearrange her face for that next selfie she took. Let's see if she'll want to put another family at risk to take a picture of herself, again. Like...seriously?!! Okay, off my podium, next...

5. Flashlight- A heavy duty flashlight with fresh batteries is crucial should you get stranded in the dark. Don't leave home without it!

I will confess that the whole ordeal made me realize just how delicate life really is. A single moment, from a single decision made, in a single day can take a sudden turn for the worst. We can be living our days working towards goals and building a life, but we never stop to think just how fast all that can slip right through our fingers. I know that a higher power must have been looking out for us, but I'm also grateful that I have my very own superhero here on earth, who loves us enough to ensure that we are safe and secure at all times, even when he can't be. For that I'd like to say, "Don't worry, honey...we're okay...I'm so proud of what you do. I'll hold the fort. You go fight crime. And there will always be a light on, right here, waiting safe and sound for you!"

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