As we were driving home along Interstate 80, we passed a motorcycle accident in the eastbound lane. The motorcycle was lying on its side, all traffic had come to a stop and people were running toward the injured couple. One woman had a blanket in her hands and may have been a doctor, nurse or paramedic running to help.
Have you ever wondered if you could jump into an emergency and save a life? Would you rush into a burning building, jump into a river or help at a car or motorcycle accident? Would you do this without thinking of the danger or legal consequences to yourself? Many of us have thought about it but one never knows until tested. Some people automatically respond and some are paralyzed.
At our airline flight attendant reunion party, I was very happy to hear positive responses to my question about accidents. These were from women who had flown for years with airline companies or charter companies. Many flight attendants told us about preparing passengers for a crash landing but none had been in an actual crash. I thought that spoke well for the companies’ flying records.
Flight crews take emergency procedures classes every year, and have spot checks with emergency equipment. They are trained to be observant and to act quickly with any issues. You think they were hired to wait on you, serve you beverages and peanuts in a bag. No, their top priority is your safety. During my flying years, I was fortunate to never have an emergency, so I was never tested as a flight attendant.
But, years later, I might have saved a young woman from a cruel beating one night but it had nothing to do with airplanes. My husband, Philip, had this wild idea of riding our Harley to Alaska. Philip had the bike serviced, planned our route and made reservations. I was planning what not to take in my small saddlebag. And believe me, that takes lots of thinking.
We rode up the coast through Oregon, Washington and Vancouver Island to Port Hardy, British Columbia. We had made reservations at the Holiday Inn, which looked like a nice motel. The fishing fleet was in town, so the place was jammed. After a nice dinner, we returned to our room to rest from the long drive up Vancouver Island. We were full, happy, a little tired and very content.
We had just settled into our second-floor room, and as I opened the windows, I heard a couple shouting loudly in the next building. Their window was wide open and a woman was screaming, “I should have left you in prison.” I thought we had just arrived on the frontier.
As I was hanging out the window and enjoying the entertainment, I saw another couple climbing into a window of a ground-floor room. They had large sleeping bags in their arms. I think they were planning an overnight slumber party with friends who had actually paid for the room. The young couple looked up at me, smiled and gave me a wave. I smiled and waved back, thinking that this north country is wild.
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After the action died down, we went to bed. However, in the middle of the night I was awaken by a loud slapping noise and a woman’s piercing scream from a nearby room. I knew it came from across the hall. I immediately woke Philip up and said, “Do something.”
He was half-asleep and was not interested in being a good Samaritan. I was fully awake and alert. I jumped out of bed, opened our door, ran across the hall and pounded on the door yelling, “Stop that.”
I turned, ran back into our room, quickly and quietly closed and locked our door. I didn’t want them to know who was doing the pounding. I called the manager and in a whisper ordered him, “Get up here now.” I went back to the door to listen. Plus, I used the peephole to view the hallway. Philip had gone back to sleep. It was all right, as I was in charge.
The night clerk, a young skinny kid with glasses, was soon knocking at their door. The door opened and I saw two people in the room. There was a stocky man about 35 years old. He had a thick black beard and was wearing a red and black checked lumberman’s style wool jacket. The woman looked about 19 and was holding her head in her hands. Now, I was worried about this poor young desk clerk. Would I have to go out there again to save him or would I send my reluctant husband?
I saw them talking calmly, and things seemed fine. Soon, they closed their door and the young desk clerk left, so I turned off the lights and went back to bed. I listened for a few minutes but never heard another sound.
The next morning, we got up early and went downstairs to check out. There was an older man at the desk. I mentioned that this was an interesting place, as I noticed the lobby phone had been pulled out of the wall. He said that he and his wife were trying to sell the place. They were Americans from California and had moved up to Port Hardy to retire. They bought the motel thinking it would be an easy source of retirement income. They had decided that they wanted to go back to the States.
So far, that was my only chance to intervene in an emergency. Who knows the rest of the story. Maybe I stopped a brutal beating. Maybe the woman had a chance to think twice about her relationship with this abusive man. We will never know.
The next morning we packed the bike, sailed away from Port Hardy on the BC Ferry to Prince Rupert and continued on to Alaska. It got wilder the farther north we went, but that’s another story.