4.27.2006

wounded warrior project

tonight I went by city bikes for a little TLC on the bikes
had some work done... felt that there was room for a touch up
took the boys with me
lisa had a work dinner
which put me in the roll of mr mom

while at the shop my boys each raced around on the kids bikes
pissing off the shop workers
knocking over merchandise
knocking into customers

we were in the shop for a while when I saw a customer come through the front door with his road bike
at a glance I saw that he had a very high tech apparatus at the base of his left leg
there was carbon fiber, light weight medals, and a heavy duty joint

without much of a buffer I walked straight to him and just got straight to the point
that is a pretty high tech piece of machinary there
I said... trying not to be too offensive
the man with the road bike and the prostetic lower leg was welcoming to my conversation
our exchanged flowed without awkwardness
he was free with his answers
yet not trying to tell his life story
he was clear with his points
I am sure he has answered all these questions many times before

in no time at all I was asking if he were military, then asking how it happened
with no great detail or drama the information came
it was a collection of words like so many collections of words we read in the paper or hear on the news
something about some sort of explosive device under some sort of military vehicle
words I understand incontext but many not be able to define on my own
it was clear that there was an explosion an injury... a serious injury...
the injuries this man suffered are serious... but not as serious as death

the man was positive
he was healthy and strong
no chip on his shoulder
no visible bitterness

I was humbled
we spoke... told him bluntly that I wished I had my camera with me
as I see him as being such an inspiration
his positive attitude and his ability to stay active
towards the end of our conversation we spoke about his riding
we talked about the Wounded Warrior Project
turns out he is riding cross country with the Wounded Warrior Project
the exchange was pleasant
it was pleasure meeting a man with such dignity and strength

lack of regret
lack of bitterness
lack of anger
maybe those stages are behind them
maybe those stages are repressed within him
in our talk he said he would do it all again
not wanting the outcome to be the same
but believing that his efforts lead to some good
believing that the actions over there are not all for not
on this I take his word
as he has seen this first hand
all I know is what I have seen in the news

not only was he engaging to me and my questions
he was also very welcoming to my two young boys and their curiosity

this Wounded Warrior Project is a good thing
(turns out SOLDIER'S RIDE is a more specific link for the cross country bicycle event)

I look forward to hearing more about this ride as it happens

1 comment:

Laura said...

Hey Joel,

I met you a few weekends ago at City Bikes' demo day at Schaeffer. I enjoyed reading this particular post and wished to comment because I think I have met the same young man just about a year ago at the shop when he was taking his bike home for the first time.

He was extremely open and shared similar thoughts when I met him too. Because I had misplaced the phone number he had given me, I never got in touch with him, but often thought about him and his situation. Sometimes while riding uphill, I would think to myself how much more difficult it would be with just one leg.

I stumbled across the scrap piece of paper he had handed me not too long ago, but didn't call because so much time had passed and I figured he wouldn't remember meeting me anyhow. But it is still in the back of my mind.

His name is Andy Hatcher and there is a photo of him on the Wounded Warrior website towards the bottom with the other pictures around DC/Baltimore.