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Rosie saw the hit

Very few people have seen someone get hit by a car.

There’s a movie from 1998 called Meet Joe Black. Kind of a weird film that combines romance and fantasy. I don’t remember being particularly impressed by the movie itself, but there’s one scene that’s stuck in my head forever. If you’ve seen it, you probably know the scene I’m talking about.

Two young people, played by Brad Pitt and Claire Forlani, meet by chance at a coffee shop and there seems to be a rare connection between them. They leave the shop, and have a few awkward words on the sidewalk before they go their separate ways. The scene is quiet, the sound track is calm, and both of them are walking away, even though it’s obvious that they have thoughts and feelings that they want to express. As Brad Pitt stands in the street and watches her disappear around the corner, he wonders about what could have been, and suddenly we hear the blast of a horn, and a car hits him, causing him to fly into the air. Before he hits the ground, another car coming from the opposite direction hits him again. I just remember that scene because it goes from being so calm to such a horrific, jarring accident.

My guess is that’s what it’s like for most people who witness an accident such as this, when a vehicle strikes a pedestrian. It’s often completely unexpected. Rosie, my guest today, can attest to this. She witnessed someone being hit by a car, and she was there afterward – trying to do whatever she could to help.

But her story offers a different perspective about seeing this type of accident, because Rosie was in the car.

Rosie, on a hike shortly after the accident
Rosie, on a hike shortly after the accident

 

Ted and Frankie
Ted and Frankie

 

Ted and Frankie
Ted and Frankie

If you’d like to contact Rosie, her email is franklynandted@gmail.com

 

Full show notes and pictures for this episode are here:
https://WhatWasThatLike.com/161

Graphics for this episode by Bob Bretz. Transcription was done by James Lai.

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Episode transcript (download transcript PDF):

Very few people have seen someone get hit by a car.

 

There’s a movie from 1998 called Meet Joe Black. Kind of a weird film that combines romance and fantasy. I don’t remember being particularly impressed by the movie itself, but there’s one scene that’s stuck in my head forever. If you’ve seen it, you probably know the scene I’m talking about.

 

Two young people, played by Brad Pitt and Claire Forlani, meet by chance at a coffee shop and there seems to be a rare connection between them. They leave the shop, and have a few awkward words on the sidewalk before they go their separate ways. The scene is quiet, the sound track is calm, and both of them are walking away, even though it’s obvious that they have thoughts and feelings that they want to express. As Brad Pitt stands in the street and watches her disappear around the corner, he wonders about what could have been, and suddenly we hear the blast of a horn, and a car hits him, causing him to fly into the air. Before he hits the ground, another car coming from the opposite direction hits him again. I just remember that scene because it goes from being so calm to such a horrific, jarring accident.

 

My guess is that’s what it’s like for most people who witness an accident such as this, when a vehicle strikes a pedestrian. It’s often completely unexpected. Rosie, my guest today, can attest to this. She witnessed someone being hit by a car, and she was there afterward – trying to do whatever she could to help.

 

But her story offers a different perspective about seeing this type of accident, because Rosie was in the car.

 

 

Scott

Rosie, you said this happened at the end of a long day. What had happened that day?

 

Rosie

I had spent the day doing my university degree – I had a day full of classes – and my husband at the time, Louis, was commuting about three hours to return to work. So he had a full day at work. He had just gotten home. Without really saying much to each other, we piled into the car with our two dogs and set off for our walk before having a quiet night in to recuperate after our long day.

 

Scott

Is that kind of a normal routine that you drive to the dog park?

 

Rosie

Yes. The dogs get two walks a day without fail – rain, hail, or shine. At the end of each day, we hop into the car and we go to a few different spots. But yeah, we usually drive somewhere just to get their energy out at the end of each day.

 

Scott

Can you just describe that trip? You said you weren’t talking. The radio wasn’t on. Were you kind of just zoning out?

 

Rosie

Definitely. We normally talk about our days and the radio will be going. The dogs will probably be barking at things they see out the window. But this particular day, we were both just exhausted. We didn’t have the radio on. We weren’t talking. The dogs were quiet. Everything was peaceful. The conditions for driving for us were absolutely perfect, which is quite rare for us. So it was a really calm start to the drive.

 

Scott

And Louis was driving…

 

Rosie

Correct.

 

Scott

So you’re in the front seat on the passenger side. We should explain this is Australia. The listeners probably picked up on your accent already. You guys drive on the left side of the road.

 

Rosie

Yes. We drive on the left side of the road and the driver’s seat is on the right side of the car. So we had just turned out of our street. We were only 350 meters away from our house and we noticed a bus that was traveling in the same direction of the road as us had pulled over up ahead to let passengers out. We continued driving, not thinking much of it. As we passed the bus, that’s when we were involved in a collision.

 

The second we came level, the front of our car came level to the front of the bus. Within no time to really respond or react, I just saw a blur of color just step in front of our car simultaneously, and that’s when the impact occurred. At the time I didn’t know. I knew it was someone, but I didn’t know anything more than that. I just saw color and then the impact.

 

Scott

How fast were you going?

 

Rosie

In Australia, we were going 60 kilometers an hour. In miles, that’s about 37 miles an hour. It’s not going particularly fast. It’s a pretty common speed for regional streets where I live, but it is still quite an impact to have a collision with someone.

 

Scott

Obviously, Louis must’ve hit the brakes pretty quickly…

 

Rosie

Yes. So I’m really proud of him. I’m so glad it wasn’t me driving because I’m a late driver and I find driving quite stressful. He’s been driving for quite a long time and his reflexes were just fantastic. He hit the brakes and we came to a stop. We did skid for quite some time, but we did eventually come to a stop and I’m so proud of how he responded to the situation. When I realized that we had hit someone, my body just went into absolute protection mode and I just screamed. I screamed for so long to the point where, in the following days, I had blood in my throat. So my initial response was screaming.

 

Then, I just turned to Louis and I just repeated to him over and over again, “It’s not your fault” because I wanted him to know that no matter what happened in this situation, I knew that it wasn’t his fault and I acknowledged it. I just wanted him to have those words because we didn’t know what we were going to be confronted with when we got out of the car. I dialed 000 before I got out. I remember there was such a delay to get out of the car because I was so shaken. I couldn’t undo my seatbelt. I just remember shaking, almost dropping my phone, and just trying to get myself out of the vehicle as quickly as I could. But I did dial before I got out of the car.

 

000 Operator

What address do you need an ambulance?

 

Rosie

I’m on Bellagio Ct and Wilsons Road in Newcomb.

 

000 Operator

Okay, just a moment while I bring it up on my map. So, Bellagio Road… okay, just a moment. Tell me exactly what happened.

 

Rosie

We’re just driving down Wilsons Road to walk our dog when a bus stopped and a man just took off out of the bus running across the road and we hit him.

 

000 Operator

Okay, so a vehicle hit a pedestrian, is that correct?

 

Rosie

Yeah. He got off the bus and, instead of looking, he just took off the road.

 

000 Operator

Yeah, we’ll get him some help, okay? Are you with the patient now?

 

Rosie

I’m not with him now.

 

000 Operator

Okay, that’s alright. How many people are hurt?

 

Rosie

Just one person.

 

000 Operator

Is he breathing?

 

Rosie

Yeah.

 

000 Operator

That’s good. How old is the patient? How old does he look?

 

Rosie

Fifteen.

 

000 Operator

Fifteen, okay. Is he awake?

 

Rosie

He’s breathing. He’s coughing.

 

000 Operator

Is he conscious?

 

Rosie

He’s conscious.

 

000 Operator

Okay. Is he breathing?

 

Rosie

He’s breathing. He’s not responding, but he’s got a head injury.

 

000 Operator

Okay. Ma’am, I need you to listen, okay?

 

Rosie

Okay.

 

000 Operator

You said he’s not responding. Is that correct?

 

Rosie

I can see him breathing. He’s conscious–

 

000 Operator

Okay, ma’am, listen. Does he have his eyes open or closed?

 

Rosie

His eyes are open, but they’re rolled back.

 

000 Operator

Okay, alright.

 

Rosie

There’s an emergency nurse on the scene as well.

 

000 Operator

Listen, are there chemicals or other hazards involved?

 

Rosie

No.

 

000 Operator

Is anyone trapped?

 

Rosie

No.

 

000 Operator

Okay. So I’m just updating this one here for you now, okay, so just give me a moment, are there any obvious injuries?

 

Rosie

He’s got a head injury, bleeding from the head and the nose.

 

000 Operator

Is there any serious bleeding?

 

Rosie

No.

 

000 Operator

No? Okay. Alright, so we do have an ambulance on its way. I need you to go over to the patient now. Stay on the line. I’ll tell you exactly what to do next. Do not (unintelligible) any injuries. Do not move him unless he’s in danger–

 

Rosie

Stop moving him. I’m on the phone with the ambulance now. Don’t move him. They know you’re here on the scene.

 

000 Operator

OK, so we don’t want to move him.

 

Rosie

I’ve been told to stop moving him. Please listen. I’ve been told to stop moving him. I understand you’re a nurse. OK, someone else is also on the phone at the same time to the ambulance.

 

000 Operator

Yeah, OK, alright, I understand. So for everyone’s safety, we want to tell any bystanders to stay well clear of approaching traffic. If it is safe to do so, turn on flashing hazard lights. OK? You’re doing such a good job there. So we only need one person on the phone to the ambulance. Can you tell the other person that you’re already on the phone to the ambulance and we’ll monitor the patient?

 

Rosie

Did you want me to hang up or do you want them to hang up?

 

000 Operator

No, I want them to hang up because–

 

Rosie

I’m being told that that phone needs to be hung up.

 

000 Operator

Just say that you’re already on the phone to the ambulance.

 

Rosie

Yeah, it’s not going to happen, sorry. There’s double handling going on and I’m not being listened to.

 

000 Operator

OK, so I need you to be really firm with people and say, “I’m on the phone with the ambulance. We’ve got the help arranged, but we need to take some control here, okay?”

 

Rosie

Okay, give me one second, I’ll do that now.

 

(Chatter in the background)

 

Rosie

I’m not being listened to, I’m so sorry. She’s not listening. She’s touching him. There’s a phone call going on. Nobody is listening to me.

 

000 Operator

Can you get the nurse on the phone so she can listen then?

 

Rosie

Okay.

 

(Chatter in the background)

 

Rosie

She’s not listening to me.

 

000 Operator

You need to tell her to get on the phone now so we can give appropriate instructions.

 

(Chatter in the background)

 

Rosie

She will not get on the phone. I’m trying my best. She’s not listening to me.

 

000 Operator

Who else is on the phone to the ambulance? Is she on the phone?

 

Rosie

She is on the phone to someone as well.

 

000 Operator

She is?

 

Rosie

Yes.

 

000 Operator

Can you ask her if she’s on the phone to the ambulance or who she’s talking to?

 

Rosie

I’m being ignored. I’m so sorry.

 

000 Operator

Okay.  Alright, let me just make some notes here. I’m just making some notes. Just a moment.

 

Rosie

I’m going to hold the phone over to her ear now, OK?

 

000 Operator

Yeah, sure. OK, alright, so we do have the ambulance around to give you some instructions. We’ve got multiple callers, so we just want to– OK, alright, good. Ma’am, I need you to listen. I want you to just take hold of the situation. Do not splint any injuries and do not move unless he’s in danger. If you can take someone for everyone’s safety to tell the bystanders on the scene to stand by as we are approaching traffic– yeah, okay, perfect. Sorry, did you witness the accident? Okay, is the patient– okay, yeah. Okay, alright. You’re doing such a good job there.

 

Rosie

Do you still need to speak to the nurse?

 

000 Operator

Yeah, yes, I do.

 

Rosie

Okay, I’ll pop you back on, sorry. We’ve got the family involved now. I’m just going to pop you back on.

 

000 Operator

Yeah, thank you. No worries. I just need some control there. We’ve got the help arranged coming with siren on. When they get right with you, I’ll leave, okay?

 

Male 1

Yeah, perfect. Thank you so much. You’re being so good there.

 

000 Operator

Anything else I should note down at all? How fast was the impact? Do you know?

 

Rosie

Oh, we’re probably going about 50 to 60 kilometers. They’re with him now.

 

000 Operator

Okay, alright, I’ll leave you with them, okay?

 

Rosie

Alright, thank you so much.

 

000 Operator

See you later. Thank you, bye-bye.

 

Rosie

Louis got out of the vehicle straight away and I called out to him to go over and check the situation. I wanted to check the street we were on. When I got out of the car, I straight away went to the street to make sure I was giving them the right location because I wasn’t– even though we drive past this spot daily, I’d never been there as a pedestrian and wanted to make sure that I was giving them the correct instructions. So I got Louis to go over and just quickly yell out the key pieces of information. Then, that’s when I was instructed to go over and start performing first aid to the person.

 

Scott

When you approached this person, what did you see?

 

Rosie

I saw that they were quite young. I could tell that they were a teenager. They were a male and they were very injured. They had visible head trauma and terrible road rash from the impact and skidding along the road, and they were awake, but they weren’t aware of what was going on. They had their eyes open, but they were drifting in and out of consciousness, and they were pale as anything. I knew, when I saw this person, that it was really bad. I don’t think he was even with it enough to be in shock. Now knowing his injuries, I think he was dying. I think he was dying in front of my eyes on the side of the road. There wasn’t a whole lot I could do in the situation. I just had to keep him still because he kept trying to stand and, each time he tried to stand, he would just collapse. So I sat next to him and I just tried to keep him still.

 

I told Louis to go stand away. I knew that he was in really severe shock and I figured that I was probably the one out of the two of us that was more capable in that moment to deal with what I was confronted with. Louis stood to the side and I proceeded to support this teenager as best I could.

 

Scott

What made you think you were the one most appropriate to deal directly with this boy as opposed to Louis?

 

Rosie

I think, for one, I have my first aid certificate. I’ve been at the scene of an event before – not a road event, but a domestic violence event that happened out in the street where someone was very badly injured – and I supported them and called the ambulance. So I just felt very mentally prepared. I’d seen a lot of confronting things in my life, just being out and about in the community, and I felt at that moment that I didn’t want to scar Louis anymore than he had been scarred. I wanted to take that burden from him and manage it myself. When I came over to him, his shoes, his lace-up runners/trainers, were in the middle of the road. His pants had come down, sort of to his thighs, and his jumper had come right up, almost over his head.

 

The impact had essentially tore his clothing off his body, or close to being off his body. It took a while to sort of figure out what I was even looking at because it was just this pile of clothes and a person on the road. It was a really weird scene to be confronted with. I didn’t expect to see his clothes essentially gone. He landed pretty close to the point of impact. I believe he probably would have traveled with us in the car, if that makes sense, as we were driving and then rolled off and then rolled into the gutter, pretty close to the bus stop.

 

Even though we had hit the brakes, Louis had hit the brakes instantly, we skidded for quite some time. We skidded almost around the corner. So, when I got out of the car, I had to walk several meters to get back to him, which was surprising because I didn’t realize we traveled such a distance. The dispatcher was really focused on me keeping them still. They were breathing. They were conscious in a way. There was no need to clear the airways. So, the dispatcher just wanted to make sure that they were lying still, not moving in case they had spinal injury and just to keep them comfortable although the call didn’t last for very long before somebody took over the scene and made it impossible for me to carry out the instructions of the dispatcher.

 

An emergency nurse who was off duty didn’t see the accident, but I believe heard it from their house, and they came out onto the street to see what had happened, went into emergency mode, and completely took over the scene, probably thinking that they were helping, but the dispatcher on my phone was very adamant that I needed to get them away from the situation because 1) they didn’t see it and 2) because they were going against the instructions that I was trying to pass on to them. It became really distressing because I felt like I had no control over the situation. No matter what I did, this person was not listening and I was getting very clear and slightly aggressive instructions from the dispatcher, and I was trying to pass that on to this person and they just were not hearing me.

 

Scott

In defense of nurses, obviously, they’re trained medically. They have a lot of education from a medical standpoint, but they’re not necessarily equipped or trained as a first responder either. What was the nurse doing that was contrary to what the dispatcher was telling you?

 

Rosie

Definitely. Firstly, my sister’s a nurse. I have such respect for nurses but, in this situation, the dispatcher was telling me, “Do not move him.” I looked up and the nurse was moving him. I remember the dispatcher saying to me, “Stop her from moving him, if you need to yell at her, if you need to try and remove her from the situation, please. She needs to stop moving him.” I remember somebody else had called an ambulance as well, so they were on the phone to a different dispatcher and my dispatcher was saying, “This other person needs to hang up the phone. We’re double-handling the situation.”

 

I remember the nurse not letting this other person hang up the phone, so we were almost arguing. There was a lot of back and forth of me pleading with this person to hang up the phone, but they felt almost threatened by the nurse and didn’t want to. I think, in that situation, the nurse was the only trained medical professional, so people felt really inclined to do what this person said. And you can hear the desperation in my voice. I just was pleading for her to please let this person hang up the phone and to stop moving him. I was yelling. I was waving my arms around trying to get her away. I was quite angry.

 

At one point, the dispatcher said to me, “It’s not working. If she’s not going to listen to you, just put your phone up to her ear.” I just walked over to her and I just shoved my phone in her ear, and I said, “You need to listen to what he is saying.” I could hear him through the phone, just instructing her on what to do. From that moment onwards, my role was to just be there. I didn’t perform any medical support. I just held the phone up to her ear and I just held his hand and just squeezed it and talked to him and waited for the ambulance to arrive.

 

Scott

So you were just kneeling and holding this boy’s hand?

 

Rosie

Yes.

 

Scott

Did he speak to you at all?

 

Rosie

No, he was so out of it. He was frothing at the mouth. He had blood all over his face. His eyes were different sizes. One eye was dilated, and one eye wasn’t. They were rolling back. He was mumbling. He was pale as anything. He wasn’t squeezing my hand back, and I think that’s why I felt so panicked because I just couldn’t believe that this nurse was jeopardizing the situation like that. I felt like just screaming like, “He is going to die if we don’t get control in some way of this situation and stop–” It was a real power struggle, I felt. I think the victim was almost forgotten about at that moment. It was very much who’s in charge and it just felt really hopeless. All I could do was just hold his hand and just pray that the ambulance was going to arrive soon.

 

Scott

What was Louis doing during this time?

 

Rosie

I have no idea. I was just not even thinking about it. I’d even completely forgotten my own dogs and they were sitting in the backseat of our car. I’d completely forgotten about Louis. Louis could be anywhere for all I knew. I think he was just standing off to the side. At that point, everyone had gotten off the bus, and everyone was crowding around. I believe people were comforting Louis. The people on the bus were fantastic. I felt really supported by them. So I wasn’t too worried about Louis. I was just focused on the immediate situation in front of me at that moment. When the boy got hit, he had gotten off the bus with two friends and they had seen the whole thing.

 

I found out he lived very close to the bus stop. So they ran home and brought back to the scene, not only his uncle, not only his grandmother but his father as well. So three members of his family showed up. So, at that point, we had myself and Louis, everybody on the bus, including the driver, the nurse, and now the family. We also had a member of the public who had seen the accident and pulled over as well. So we had over 10 people at the scene. The family, I think, heightened the stress even more than what it was before.

 

Scott

You said it was his father, his uncle, and his grandmother. What did each of them do when they arrived?

 

Rosie

I remember the grandmother sat on the ledge of the gutter because the boy was in the gutter at this stage and she just cradled him, cradled his head. The uncle was pacing around on the phone and the father, which breaks my heart to this day, was leaning over his son and just speaking to him and saying, “Dad’s here. Please keep your eyes open. I’m here. Everything’s going to be okay. Please just stay with me.” I remember just placing my hand on the father’s back almost as a comfort. He probably didn’t even feel it, but I just felt so overcome with guilt, even though I wasn’t driving and it was not Louis’s fault. This boy ran out onto the road and he was completely hidden from our view when it happened. So, there was no way we could have known.

 

I just felt so much guilt and shame. I just put my hand on his back and I thought, “I hope that this boy makes it. If he doesn’t, this is going to be one of the last images that his father has of his son.” And I just felt so overwhelmed with sadness at that moment.

 

Scott

Were you worried at all at that time about the family members finding out that it was your car that had actually hit the boy?

 

Rosie

Yes. Oh boy. A lot of my sister’s friends are emergency nurses and they’ve been involved in abuse at the hands of family members in very stressful situations. People can get violent. When they see their loved one or their child in a life-or-death situation, they can get angry. I was so scared for Louis. I thought Louis would not stand a chance if his father comes after him. I just felt sick to my stomach that they were going to find out. Our car was still on the scene. It was still very real. I was worried about what was going to happen and whether they would hate us or yell at us or fight us. I just thought I ran through all the scenarios in my head of what could go wrong in this moment.

 

The ambulance did eventually show up. There might’ve even been two ambulances and the police as well. They loaded the boy into the ambulance. We did find out from the family that he was 15, so I had that confirmed age. They ended up landing a helicopter to transport him to hospital. When the family had left, the uncle remained and he came over to us and he said, “I found out that it was you. We are so sorry that this happened to you. We’ve spoken to the police and the bus driver, and it seems like he did the wrong thing and he ran out onto the road. We have no hate for you. What happened was horrible. Thank you so much for being there and helping out our child, our family member.” And he gave us a hug, which I can’t even explain how much we needed at that moment and how much I didn’t expect it.

 

At that moment, we didn’t know what was going to happen to this person for his uncle to come over and give us that message. It was just absolutely life-changing for us for the better in that moment.

 

Scott

What incredible kindness and empathy that they were thinking about you in that situation, as opposed to that boy, their family member, who may not make it. From your observation, at that point when he was taken away, did you think he would survive? What were your thoughts on that?

 

Rosie

I didn’t think he would survive. I didn’t tell that to Louis, but I didn’t think he would survive. He was so injured. We drive a very big car. We drive a big four-wheel drive Ute. It’s huge. I did not think he would make it. The way he came up over our car and the impact, I thought he would pass away, for sure.

 

Scott

Did you talk to any of the passengers that were on the bus? Did they see also what happened?

 

Rosie

The passengers actually didn’t see. They were all at the back of the bus. The bus driver knew what was going to happen and he tried to warn the 15-year-old about what was about to happen but he didn’t get to his horn in time. We actually found out that the footage of the camera inside the bus had been reviewed and the bus driver was fantastic. He tried to warn the boy. When it was too late, he immediately got on the radio and just started giving the code, whatever, to advise someone that an accident had occurred and he just reacted to the situation so quickly.

 

Fortunately, the people on the bus didn’t actually see, but they stayed anyway. They stayed for hours with us – they didn’t need to. They didn’t need to provide a statement of what they saw because they didn’t see anything. They just heard the impact and the bus driver yelled out, “There’s a kid’s been hit” and everybody ran off the bus and they stayed with us and supported us through that, which was just– again, I’m in awe of how kind people can be. The bus had nine cameras around it, so the bus caught every angle in detail of the accidents.

 

Scott

Have you seen that video?

 

Rosie

No, I don’t think I could look at it. We did have the Transport Accident Commission representative come and speak to us to interview us from our side of the story, and they did explain the video to us and explained that it showed everything in really clear detail. Something that I will mention before I forget is that the cameras actually also showed several cars stopping and driving away after they saw the accident. Several passers-by actually pulled into the accident site, had a look, and then drove away. Nobody who saw the accident actually stopped. The only people who stopped to help were people who heard the noise and came out of their houses or drove by after the accident. The accident occurred, but the people who saw it happen, nobody stopped – everybody kept on driving. I don’t even know what to say about that. It breaks my heart to think about it.

 

So we were at this scene from the moment it happened for over an hour, I would say. The police showed up, put cones around, blocked people from traveling through, and interviewed everybody. At this point, the boy had left. As I mentioned before, a helicopter landed at a nearby oval and transported him to a hospital in a nearby city because his injuries were just so catastrophic. He needed absolute life-saving treatment. I then went over to Louis and we were both just shaking. I could not stop shaking. We just gave each other a big hug, and everybody on the bus gave us a big group hug. I remember just being in the center of this hug with complete strangers just completely wrapping their arms around us.

 

We then gave statements to the police and people from the bus slowly started to leave and hop on another bus or get picked up and leave the scene. I had a sudden realization that I had two dogs and they were still sitting in the car. Those poor things must’ve been so shaken by the impact. So, I asked the police officer if I could get my dogs out of the car, which I was allowed to. So I called my mum and she was allowed to come into the scene and help me get my dogs home. They were really good. I thought that they would be very stressed, but I think they just read the situation and understood that now’s not the time to initiate play and be naughty. They just walked home really calmly.

 

Then, I went back to the scene and I think the most heartbreaking thing for me was when the police had to escort Louis to the hospital to get a blood test to test his alcohol and drugs levels. Seeing him drive away in the police car after experiencing something so life-altering is just heartbreaking to me.

 

Scott

Was he scared at that moment?

 

Rosie

He wasn’t scared of the results because he came back absolutely clean as a whistle. Nothing came up in the test, but it must’ve been really humiliating to be escorted into a hospital in front of people with two uniformed police officers who waited outside the room while he got a blood test. I can’t imagine how degrading that must’ve felt, going through something so traumatic. I understand that’s the protocol and they were very kind to us as we were just going through something like that, and then having to sit in a police car and have a blood test. I just wished that it was me. I wished that I could swap places with him and I could be the one going through all of this. I just felt so sad for him at that moment.

 

Scott

You’re very protective of him, aren’t you?

 

Rosie

Yes. He’s a very kind person and I feel like– not that I deserve to swap places, but I think I could handle it. That’s how I felt, even though he’s handled this accident incredibly. I just felt at that moment that I wanted to be that person and protect him from that. So Louis had left in the police car and I was told that I was able to drive my car home which, thank goodness, was only 300-or-so meters because I don’t know how I would have driven home if we were any further away. I was shaking like a leaf driving that car home and I was making really silly mistakes on the road because I was just so shaken. I had to do a really tight sort of three-point turn to get back onto the road again, and I nearly drove onto the footpath because I was just so shaken. As I mentioned earlier, I’m quite new to driving. I was a late driver and our car is very big, and I don’t feel comfortable driving it the best of times. So driving that car home just felt like it was never-ending. It was probably a 30-second drive, but I just could not wait to get in the driveway.

 

Scott

And it was damaged. You were driving it with it being damaged as well. Was the windshield broken?

 

Rosie

No. Because of the size of it, you would not have known we’d hit someone, looking at it. Our windshield was completely fine. Our front light was smashed and our front bonnet just had lots of dents across it. But that was it. So our car was quite untouched in the accident. Although you could tell that we’d been in an accident, it wasn’t clear that we’d hit something. The windshield was fully intact. There was blood on the car and I wanted to make sure that Louis didn’t have to see that. So, the second I got home, I just went out with a cloth and some cleaner, and I just scrubbed the blood and I tried to just make it look as presentable as possible. There wasn’t a lot of blood, but it was really difficult for me to touch the car and clean the blood off. It was still so fresh in my mind and it only happened an hour or so prior, but I just knew that I had to do that because I didn’t know what state Louis would be in when he got home because we hadn’t had a chance to even talk since we were in the car together when the accident happened. We hadn’t even really said much to each other.

 

The police brought him home. They were really fantastic. They dropped him home and they pretty instantly actually gave him and I a free road trauma counseling resource that we could use. So they were really very kind to us and knew that we weren’t in the wrong and understood that this would be really traumatizing. So they set us up with some resources that we could use in the coming days, weeks, and months.

 

Scott

Did they have any information about the boy’s condition?

 

Rosie

No, they did brief us on what would happen if he passed away. We knew that if he passed away, there would be an inquest into his death and that we would need to provide a statement. They said that they would try and get us some information that evening so that, by the time we got home, it was still light – because it was summertime in Australia and the sun set quite late. We were told that they would try and reach us that evening, whether it was in the middle of the night, they weren’t sure, but they did tell us that they would reach out as soon as they could.

 

We just sat in silence for most of the night and we both tried to get some sleep. I just could not stop shaking from the minute of the impact to several days after the accident. I just shook constantly. I felt like I was living a nightmare. When all is said and done and the quiet and the dark sets in, it’s a really lonely place to be. Everyone around me, my city, all went to sleep for the night and I lay in bed, just jolting awake at every sound and every movement from Louis next to me. I was very much in the trauma response of that fight, flight, and freeze, and we didn’t really get any sleep that night.

 

Scott

So when did you get more information?

 

Rosie

This bit’s a little fuzzy. It was definitely a couple of days later. We’d spoken to the police more for formality reasons. The next day, we were given access to a TAC claim for any injuries or anything that we needed to claim, but we were really left in the dark for a couple of days. I just remember being like a zombie. I couldn’t really function without knowing the state of this teenager and Louis was very much the same. We just spent the next few days just telling our loved ones what had happened and just bracing ourselves for when we got the news. It did eventually come, but it wasn’t in detail or in the detail that we had hoped. The police did eventually call Louis and let him know that he was going to live, that he was in an induced coma and had several surgeries, and that they were bringing him out of the coma. They pretty much just left it at that and we never really heard from them again.

 

Scott

Would you be able to call the hospital yourself and ask about his condition?

 

Rosie

We didn’t try, although, I know for confidentiality reasons, unless you’re immediate family, I very highly doubt that they would give us his information.

 

Scott

So you knew that he was somehow going to survive. But beyond that, you were still without any closure or information, anything.

 

Rosie

Exactly. We had zero closure. I didn’t know whether he had brain damage or whether he was paralyzed. I had no idea of anything, and it was so final. They just gave us that information and, “Good luck and have a good life.” That’s really how it felt.

 

Scott

Did you think about going to the hospital to visit him there?

 

Rosie

No. For one, the hospital was in the next city. We didn’t actually know what hospital initially but, when we did find out, we would have had to have traveled over an hour to get there. And I didn’t know. I had no idea what we’d be confronted with, whether the family would want us there.

 

Scott

It may have gotten very awkward, right?

 

Rosie

Yes. I mean, “Hello, we ran over your son.” I just didn’t like it was appropriate. We were just in such shock. We couldn’t even think about what to eat for breakfast, let alone get in the car – which was a very traumatizing process for us now – and then drive to the hospital. It just wasn’t even in our minds at that moment. My mum was out with some friends and she was filling them in about what had happened, just updating them on her life, and one of the friends said, “I know the family. I know them.” This friend said to my mum, “I can send them a text message and try and get some information just for a bit of closure.”

 

So this person sent a text message to the family and they responded and they let us know that they said, “He’s a tough kid. He’s going to be okay.” We found out that he had a shattered pelvis, a ruptured aorta in his heart, and bleeding on the brain. They’re the three things we were able to find out. That was the only information that we were able to find out until just recently. Recently, we found out a bit more. But, at that moment, that’s all we were able to find out and that’s all I had to go on for the next few months.

 

Scott

When you heard that list of injuries, what were you thinking?

 

Rosie

I just felt sick. I just felt happy that he was going to survive, but it was almost not enough. I almost needed to see him. I remember just living life as if it was a countdown to him passing away. I lived life with such anxiety that every time my phone went off, it was a number I didn’t recognize from someone calling me to tell me that he died. It was a really weird limbo period that I’ve only just gotten out of now. I think, because I saw him, I was just so certain that something was going to go wrong – he was going to have a brain bleed or have a stroke or something was going to happen, and he was going to die. I was just sure of it. I know that sounds really grim and I certainly didn’t want that to be the case, but I just thought there is no way that a teenager could be hit at such a speed with such a big car and have the injuries that he sustained and survive. That’s where I was at.

 

Scott

When you sent me your message, you questioned if you really wanted to know those answers. What was your thought process there?

 

Rosie

Post the accident, I went through a lot of stages, almost like grief in a way. When I started to get through those initial primal protective responses, I got to the real emotional trauma of it. While, in one sense, I really wanted to know, I felt like I couldn’t move on without knowing, but I was so mentally fragile and, looking back on it, mentally unwell from the accident that I feared that if I was told that he’s paralyzed and he’ll never be able to do X, Y, I don’t know how I could keep living my privileged life, knowing that information.

 

That is something that I really envied in Louis. Louis is very black-and-white, which serves him well in some circumstances. As soon as he knew that legally he was not liable for the injuries caused, he felt very sad for the family, but he was really quite easily able to move on, and I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. He was devastated. He felt horrible, but he just saw no other way than to just put it past him and move on. But for me, I went through such complex feelings of emotion and, “Do I want to know? No, I don’t. I can’t live with myself if I find out and it’s not what I was hoping for.” Although I wasn’t driving, I felt like I was stuck on this horrible rollercoaster and I couldn’t get off, and I was just as guilty, in a sense, because I was in the car, and it really took over my life in a lot of ways.

 

Scott

Obviously, it’s normal to feel terrible for what happened, but you must understand now that the feelings that you have don’t need to include guilt. I think about it like this. If you were a person who witnessed the accident – just a bystander nearby – you’d feel terrible and obviously traumatized seeing something like that happen. Of course, you’d wish it didn’t happen, but you wouldn’t feel any guilt because you were just a bystander. So I think of it like you as the passenger in that car are guilty of what happened the same as that uninvolved bystander, which is not at all. I know it’s difficult to feel that way since it happened to be your car. Have you been able to work through that?

 

Rosie

Yes, I have. I’ve had a lot of counseling. I think I’m someone who’s suffered from anxiety my whole life. One of my biggest traits of anxiety is what-if-this, what-if that, and dwelling. I dwelled a lot. I thought, “Why couldn’t I undo my seatbelt? Why wasn’t I the first one to call 000? Why couldn’t I have gotten control of the situation when the nurse was trying to help, but maybe hindering the scene a little bit?” I just kept thinking why? In hindsight, and through a lot of work post-accident, I realized that I did what I thought was best in the situation.

 

I was also battling against really innate protective factors that we have in ourselves to protect ourselves from trauma. I couldn’t undo my seatbelt because I was shaking, because my body was trying to protect myself from what it just witnessed. All of those things that happened were things that were out of my control. The things that were in my control, I tried my best to assert my support and my stance in the situation. I know that I’m not at fault now and I don’t feel guilty now but, for quite a long time, I did and I just felt like, “How am I going to live a normal life after this?” I was so in the depths of despair that I didn’t know how I was going to be normal again or my version of normal again.

 

Scott

You had mentioned that the police gave you a resource – a road trauma counseling service. I don’t know if we even have that here in the United States. Were you able to get into that and did it help?

 

Rosie

I was able to get into that, but it took a really long time. I don’t know whether it’s government-run or whether it’s not-for-profit, but it is a free service. Even if you’ve just witnessed an accident, even if you weren’t involved – for the people on the bus, for example – if you’ve witnessed a traumatic accident, you’ve been involved in a traumatic accident, you’ve lost someone, even if you weren’t involved in the accident but you’ve lost a loved one and you need to talk about it, you can call them. You don’t need to prove anything. You just need to ring up and say, “I was involved in a really traumatic accident and I need support.”

 

I called them the day after the accident. Louis didn’t speak to them at all. He was able to just move on with his life and he has done so really successfully. But I called them the day after. Because they are a not-for-profit sort of service, they don’t have a lot of funding. So, it actually took me nearly two months to get any professional mental health support post the accident because there was such a long waitlist. I am just so glad that, from years and years of my own therapy, I had tools that I had equipped myself with over the years to cope in the meantime because I don’t know what Rosie five years ago would have done if she had to wait nearly two months for any mental health support. So it was a really long slog.

 

Scott

I remember you told me once earlier that some of your friends and family offered no support. What do you think that was? Did they just not understand your trauma or what was going on there?

 

Rosie

I don’t think they understood the trauma. Quite frankly, I didn’t understand friends’ trauma in the past until you’ve been through a situation like mine or any traumatic situation you don’t understand. I don’t have any hate or anger towards these people now, but it was a really lonely time and something that is as common as road trauma, but unique in a way. You’re not going to speak to many people who have hit somebody. I think people just didn’t know how to relate. It’s not, “Oh, I have cancer or I got hit on my bike or something.” I feel like they’re more relatable things, but I was in a car and a child stepped out in front of my car. I don’t think people get it, and I think a lot of people had the opinion of, “Well, he lived. I don’t know what the problem is. You should be happy he’s alive.” The people that I did tell were really good in the first couple of days, but then they just sort of dropped off and trauma lasts forever, really. You never truly get over it. You can learn how to cope with it. You can learn how to make the most of it, but it’s with you forever. I did, at times, feel abandoned by the people in my life.

 

Scott

From your impression of them, did they think that you were just being overdramatic or did they just not know how to help or what to say and it was easier to just avoid you?

 

Rosie

I mean, I am a dramatic person. I don’t think they thought that I was being overdramatic. I’m very good at putting on a mask. I mean, I took one and a half days off work after this accident, came straight back to work, and sat an exam the next week. I think people saw me getting on with life and just never thought to really ask. I did have a couple of people checking in, and they were friends that I was honest with saying, “This is really hard. I’m really struggling right now.” While they were definitely comforting, nobody stopped by the house, nobody sent a card or flowers, nobody called me, and nobody sent food to help us for the coming days after the accident. It was like it had never happened.

 

I did have texts from people checking in saying, “How are you going?” But it felt kind of tokenistic, in a way, a checkbox to say, “I’ve let them know to say if they need anything.” Tick, that’s my part done. But I think people don’t realize that when you’re in the midst of something like this, you’re often not in the place to be able to ask for help. The last thing you are able to do at that moment is to reach out to people and say, “Actually, can you come by?” or “We haven’t cooked food in ages. Is there a chance, if you’ve got time, we can cook together?” I just need the presence of a positive person in my life right now, and it just didn’t happen. The days turned into weeks, turned into months. It went from getting texts here and there to just nothing at all.

 

Scott

You’re still recovering. I mean, it seems like we’re talking about something that happened a long time ago but, as we record this, this accident happened five months ago.

 

Rosie

Yes, five months tomorrow. And yes, it was not that long ago. As I said, it was right near our house, so I walked and drove past this location daily. Driving isn’t so bad. Being a passenger in the car is really difficult, especially if we drive past a parked bus or a big van or truck that I can’t see what’s behind it or in front of it. Oh my goodness. My heart races and I get this panicked feeling, I close my eyes, I clench, I wait for the impact and it doesn’t happen, and then I breathe again. It’s an endless cycle and I know that it’ll be with me forever, and it’s something that I’m just trying to move through as best I can, which is crazy when you’re with people who might not know. I’m going through these experiences of trauma and they don’t know what’s happened and I’m freaking out in the street and they’re not understanding. Little do they know that I’m going through a very public trigger or fear response to a noise, which is humiliating, but also very humbling at the same time that I do have to go through these things in public because anything can trigger me. It could even be a child screaming with joy or someone closing their car door or someone dropping something in a shop. I just went right back to the accident.

 

The counseling was really beneficial. I hadn’t actually spoken to anybody, even my mom, about the accident from start to finish. One of the real feelings of dismissal that I felt from my mom, I remember, was about two days later. I was talking to her on the phone and I told her how I was struggling, that Louis wanted to move on really quickly, and I was still stuck in that space. And she said to me, “Oh, Rosie, it happened two days ago. You need to move on. Stop talking to him about it. Just move on.” And it had been 48 hours. I talked a lot to my counselor about that and just felt really dismissed. Another thing I told a friend and she said, “Well, you need to be there for Louis because it was much worse for him. He’s the one that hit the boy. You’re there as a support system and you need to put your issues aside and just be there for Louis.” So I had a lot of themes to talk about of just feeling really invisible and I actually wasn’t provided the support service for the counseling Louis was. So I wasn’t given any resources.

 

Louis was the driver and I was just sort of the sidekick that tagged along. So, I had to really fight for my rights and to advocate for myself. While we did talk a lot about the accident itself and how I could move through those symptoms of PTSD in a way, the latter themes of my sessions were all about moving on post the accident and how I can still have relationships with these people who have let me down and not have it take over my relationships with them, and not have it be the elephant in the room all the time.

 

Scott

You mentioned that you got a more recent update about the boy and his recovery. What do you know now?

 

Rosie

I mentioned before we had the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) – I hope I am saying the acronym right. A representative came. Basically, their job is to represent us as the driver. They came to interview both of us about the accident, and this was only recently about two or three weeks ago now. I had to ask and get the information out of this person, but I felt ready to know at this stage. I gave Louis the option to leave the room, but he wanted to stay.

 

We were told, first and foremost, that, unfortunately, the bus driver didn’t even know that the boy had survived, so he did not get any updates from the police. He hasn’t been able to work. He tried to go back to work at a different bus route, had a breakdown at work and had to go off sick, and has been very traumatized by the accident. He thought it was his fault because he wasn’t able to reach his horn in time, even though he’d been reassured that it would have been too late regardless because the boy got off the bus and ran straight away in front of the road. There was no hesitation. So we found that out about the bus driver, which is really sad that he was waiting and he was ringing the police and ringing the hospital and nobody would give him any information. So he thought the boy had died. So, I feel very privileged for the small amount of information that we did get.

 

I asked about the boy’s current situation and we were told that he’s home now, that he essentially broke nearly every bone in his body, that he has a carer living in the house with him, that he will never be able to play and run and he’ll never be able to have a physical job. He doesn’t have brain damage and he didn’t break his back, but he is struggling with learning to walk again and his life will forever be impacted. He will live in pain for the rest of his life. So, that was a really hard reminder of road safety and how your life can be changed in a split second.

 

Scott

Do you feel like it’s good that you know that information now? Or would you rather, if you could, turn the clock back and not know that?

 

Rosie

I wouldn’t turn the clock back and not know. I feel strong enough now to know. I’ve done a lot of work on myself. I mean, the fact that I’ve gotten through this story and not burst into tears, I feel ready to know the information. It didn’t shock me as much as I thought it would. I didn’t have a particularly strong physical response. It was shocking and I felt sick thinking about it, but I didn’t break down. In a weird way, I felt like this boy, his life changed. I felt like I deserved to know that, again, not because I feel like I deserve to feel bad, even though I do, but how lucky am I to be able to just walk away from that accident and go about my life and have the ability to run and jump and play with my dogs and go for a hike. It’s the least I can do to take on that burden and find out that information compared to this child who is half my age and is going to be walking with a frame and needing constant support for the rest of his life. I felt like it was the least I could do to know that information. It hasn’t burdened me as much as I thought it would.

 

It feels like– I don’t want to say closure because I don’t want to be disrespectful to him and what he’s going through, but I feel like it was the final piece of the puzzle and I would actually love to meet him. I hold no resentment towards him whatsoever, not at any stage of this accident and the aftermath did I ever feel any anger towards him. He doesn’t remember anything, he doesn’t remember me squeezing his hand. I don’t think he even remembers his dad and nan and uncle being there. I want to put a face to the person or the people that were involved. I don’t know his feelings towards us. I don’t know whether he thinks we’re these monsters that changed his life forever, but I want to meet him and show him that we’re just two normal people and, mine and Louis, our lives crossed with this complete stranger that day and we’ll forever be connected because of this accident. I just want him to know that we’re good people and we care about him and we’re thinking about him. If I had the opportunity to meet him – because I do know that he lives very close to us – I would jump at that opportunity, even if it meant being confronted with his injuries all over again.

 

Another thing is his family didn’t see the accident. So, really, he has no idea what happened. Nobody can tell him. The ambulance can’t. They didn’t see it. None of the witnesses that I know of had as much sort of involvement in the process as us because it was our car. So he’s probably missing all of this information. Due to the fact that the bus driver wasn’t even able to get information as to whether he lived or not, I doubt they’ve been in touch with the bus driver. So I think it would be really healing for both of us to meet and to share stories and information with each other.

 

I don’t know whether Louis would be up for it. He’s very much moved on with his life and still feels for the boy and feels terrible. But, for me, I think I’d be very interested in that and maybe it is something that I will pursue. I mean, it’s a really painful lesson to learn and I just hope that he has learned a lesson and is a little bit more mindful when being around traffic because what happened to him was, at the end of the day, as sad as it sounds, preventable.

 

Scott

If you do end up having that meeting, we want to do a follow-up and hear how that goes, because I’m sure everybody listening to this will want to know how that went. Also, you’ve mentioned that if people want to contact you, they can do so by email, and we will have your email address in the show notes for this episode.

 

One more question. Why do you feel it’s important for people to hear this story?

 

Rosie

There are a couple of reasons. Firstly, to shed light on just how frequent accidents like this actually happen. Since the accident, I have actually nearly hit two people, not of my fault again. One person was on their phone and looking down and walked right in front of my car. Luckily, I was driving in a street where the speed limit was much lower and I was able to slam on my brakes. I held my horn down – they had their headphones on – and they didn’t even hear me. So they never realized what had happened and they just walked across. The second time it happened, I had to swerve onto the other side of the road. Luckily it was at night and there was no traffic, but I had to go into a completely wrong lane to avoid this person. And these were both adults. So, it’s really common.

 

You can be jumping out of the car to run and pick your kids up from school, or you can be distracted in a rush. You can be a parent who’s got a kid riding up ahead on their bike and they all of a sudden roll onto the road. You just have to be careful. I want to shed light so that people realize how fragile life is and how a split decision can impact yours’ or someone else’s life forever.

 

Secondly, I want to reach people who might know of someone who’s going through something, or maybe you’ve got a friend who’s been a little bit more distant than usual, check in on them. They might be feeling really lonely or going through a tough period or going through trauma themselves, and a kind message and support can mean the world to someone. Please don’t ignore those warning signs of people who are going through a tough time. Even if you’re not certain, just reach out and make yourself available. Don’t just send the message of, “If you need anything, let me know.” Actually make yourself available to them. I think that’s really important.

 

Scott

You know, the thing I really loved about hearing Rosie talk about this is that it’s really practical advice. I mean, we all know people at times who are going through something and really need someone. In fact, that’s when people need the support of others around them more than ever. And yet it’s so easy to abandon them, or think they should just get over it. For me, I’m going to make a deliberate effort to get better in this area.

 

When someone I know has been through something traumatic, and they’re telling that story later on, and part of the story is that a lot of people ignored them but one or two people stepped up to be there for them, I want to be one of those few people. I think you would want to be too. It just takes deliberate intent and action. So let’s do it.

 

You can get the full transcript for this episode, as well as pictures of Rosie and Louis and their two dogs, Ted and Frankie, in the episode notes at WhatWasThatLike.com/161.

 

Raw Audio episode 37 is now live! I love creating these bonus, exclusive episodes for supporters of the podcast. Each one is three stories, including the 911 audio that happened during that emergency. In this episode, you’ll hear a woman panicking after a machete attack –

 

911 Operator

Who did it?

 

Female 1

My kid’s father. Ma’am, please.

 

911 Operator

Okay. And where did he go? What type of car is he in?

 

Female 1

I don’t know where he’s at. I don’t know where he went ma’am.

 

Scott

A man calling because he and his girlfriend are stranded outside in a snowstorm –

 

Male 1

Please help us. My girlfriend is really freezing. We can’t get out of here.

 

911 Operator 

You can’t get out of where?

 

Male 1

We can’t get out. We don’t know where we are– they don’t speak English or anything. They don’t–

 

Scott

And after police leave her house, a woman calls 911 to have them come back because she thinks one of them is cute –

 

Female 2

Could you send them back my way?

 

911 Operator

You need them to come back there?

 

Female 2

Oh, I’d like that, yeah.

 

911 Operator

Why do you need them back there?

 

Female 2

Because I have an emergency. I’ll think of something.

 

Scott

If you want to hear that full episode, and binge the previous 36 episodes, you can do that by signing up for What Was That Like PLUS – and you can try it for free!

 

On an iPhone, just go to the What Was That Like podcast feed, and click on Try Free. On Android, go to WhatWasThatLike.com/PLUS. Just try it for free, and see what you think!

 

Graphics for this episode were created by Bob Bretz. Full episode transcription was created by James Lai. They both do amazing work.

 

And now, this week’s Listener Story. If you’re new to the show, this is how we end every episode – with a story sent in by a listener. If you have an interesting personal story that you can tell in about 5-10 minutes, record it on your phone and email it to me so we can all enjoy it – Scott@WhatWasThatLike.com.

 

The one you’re about to hear is from my friend Marcus. He’s a personal fitness and nutrition coach. As an aside, I’ve been sort of half-heartedly trying to drop about 20 pounds or so for the last 3 or 4 years. I started working with Marcus as my personal coach and guess what – it finally happened. If you think you might benefit from the advice and accountability of having a coach, let me know. I have an affiliate arrangement with him so I can connect you, he can tell you how it all works, and you can decide how you want to proceed.

 

In this Listener Story, Marcus tells about the time he completely shocked his girlfriend – by proposing.

 

Stay safe, and I’ll see you back here in 2 weeks – with the final episode for 2023.

 

(Listener story)

Marcus

In June of 2019, I decided it was time to propose to my girlfriend of four years. Like most guys, I had no idea how I was going to do it. I knew I wanted it to be truly special and I wanted it to be recorded somehow. I wanted to really surprise her. My initial thought was actually just to do it in Colorado while we were hiking. That’s where I first told her that I loved her and it seemed like the perfect setting but, after thinking more about it, it just seemed too generic, too basic.

 

My next thought was to reach out to our favorite band at the time, the Lumineers, to see if they could help me propose because we were going to the Bonnaroo Music Festival a few weeks later and they were performing there. But, after a few attempts, I never got a reply from any of the band members. Then, it hit me. The ring that I was going to get Nicole was actually at a jeweler that I had a connection with down in Atlanta, and it just so happened that Nicole and her boss were getting ready to leave for a work trip in Atlanta. They were actually leaving a few days from the time I had the thought to even propose this way. So I had a lot to figure out and I had to do it fast.

 

So I called Nicole’s boss and told her my plan. I would fly down early in the morning on the last full day of the whole trip. They would actually be at the same venue as the jeweler. So, we would have to coordinate on where they were in the venue at all the different times that I was going to be there so I could sneak in to pick up the ring and sneak back out. Then, that day, after they finished working, her boss was going to take her out to a nice dinner at STK in Downtown Atlanta, a really nice steak restaurant. Once they got seated, she would then text me and I would come into the restaurant, ask the hostess to follow behind me until my proposal. Her boss loved the plan and she was all on board to help me do anything and everything I needed to do to make sure that this proposal went off without a hitch.

 

Now that I had coordinated with the jeweler and I had my plan set, I needed to get Nicole’s parents blessing. So a day prior to what would be the day that I ended up proposing, I called Nicole’s dad to see if I could swing by after I got off work that day. At this point, Nicole was already out of town and she was already down in Atlanta. I didn’t tell him what I was coming over for, but he had an idea. At that point, we’d been dating for a handful of years and he probably expected this would be about the time that I would be proposing. I told him my plan. I asked for his blessing and, of course, he said, “Yes.” He couldn’t have been more excited.

 

And he just absolutely loved the plan. I called Nicole’s mom after leaving her dad’s house to go over to meet with her and her husband, Nicole’s stepfather, and I followed those same steps, which resulted in her mom immediately being overcome with tears of joy and a huge yes. So great. I had both blessings.

 

I had the plan with the jeweler and I had a plan with Nicole’s boss, but now I had to put the plan into full action. So after getting both of those blessings, I booked my plane ticket for 5 a.m. the next morning. The hardest part of all this was not slipping up and giving anything away to Nicole. She can read me like a book, but I played it cool and she never suspected a thing when I spoke to her that night on the phone.

 

I woke up at 2am the next day, too anxious to sleep. I put on my best suit and I got to the airport. I arrived in Atlanta. I dropped off my bags at the hotel and went to the Atlanta Apparel Market, which is where that jeweler was located, along with where my wife and her boss were already at doing all their buying for their local clothing boutique. The building is set up kind of like a huge vertical mall with an open atrium so that you can actually see all the other people walking around all the other levels. So Nicole’s boss and I had to coordinate every time we were moving around the building so that I would avoid being caught. I had to get in and get out as fast as I could without my wife being able to see me from across the venue. So I did it. I got in, I got the ring and I got out as fast as I could.

 

At this point, I still had a few hours left before dinner. So I went and got a good workout in. Then, I came back to the hotel, took a nice shower, got fully dressed again, and just sat there anxiously sweating, waiting for her boss to let me know. When they were going to be at dinner, her boss texted me. I got in my Uber and I headed that way. I walked in like a man on a mission. I was fully already sweating through the shirt underneath my suit jacket in anxiousness.

 

I asked the hostess to follow me to the table while recording on my phone. I got to the table with the hostess falling right behind me filming, and I said, “Hey, Nicole.” Her first response – the first thing we had on video – was, “What the fuck are you doing here?” And pure shock that instantly turned to full-on blubbering tears when she saw me get down on my knees and realize what I was there to do. I was there to propose to her away from the table, and we sat there hugging, kissing, and her crying just tears of joy. I said, “Is that a yes?” And that’s how I proposed to my girlfriend.

 

To my amazement, that video actually went viral, both shared on mine and Nicole’s Facebook and Instagram. Then, we actually had a bunch of other accounts that reshared that same video. What was awesome is that, a few days later, after flying back home to Kansas City, we then got to celebrate by going to Bonnaroo just a few days later where we got to watch our favorite band perform, who actually had never responded to me asking them to help me propose to my girlfriend.

 

I wanted to say thank you to Scott for allowing me to share my personal story. My name is Marcus Gates. I’m an online fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle coach, owner of Thriving Lives Fitness. I help my clients tackle their health goals through sustainable approaches, focusing on balance through weekly accountability check-ins and reflections. I hold my clients accountable and I guide them every step of the way towards their health and fitness goals.

 

In fact, I’m actually Scott’s coach. He’s been with me for most of 2023 and has done an incredible job of not only reaching his goals that he came to me with, but the most important aspect is that he’s maintained those results that he’s gotten and continues to strive and get better and better every single week. You can find me on Instagram at Thriving Lives Fitness. My website is thrivinglivesfitness.com. With 2024 just a few weeks away, I would love to work with you on whatever your health goals are.