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Three stories

We have a different type of episode today.

Normally, we’d be hearing from someone who survived an animal attack, or was in a plane crash, or won lots of money on a TV game show. At the moment we have more than 170 episodes like that.

But sometimes I end up with stories that are not quite long enough for a full episode. But they’re just too good not to use.

So today, you’re about to hear three stories. The first one and the last one are just the storyteller talking. The story in between is a conversation I had with the guest, and he talks about what happened.

And of course to end the episode we’ll have our Listener Story.

So I hope you enjoy this 3-story episode.

Matt's house after the fire
Matt’s house after the fire

 

Emmett's room
Emmett’s room

 

Full show notes and pictures for this episode are here:

https://WhatWasThatLike.com/179

 

Graphics for this episode were created by Bob Bretz. Full transcription was done by James Lai.

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Episode transcript (download transcript PDF)

We have a different type of episode today.

 

Normally, we’d be hearing from someone who survived an animal attack, or was in a plane crash, or won lots of money on a TV game show. At the moment we have more than 170 episodes like that.

 

But sometimes I end up with stories that are not quite long enough for a full episode. But they’re just too good not to use.

 

So today, you’re about to hear three stories. The first one and the last one are just the storyteller talking. The story in between is a conversation I had with the guest, and he talks about what happened.

 

And of course to end the episode we’ll have our Listener Story.

 

So I hope you enjoy this 3-story episode.

 

Scott

Our first story is from a young woman who meets an unusual stranger.

 

Female 2

Back in March of 2021, I found myself living alone on the edge of a cliff in Big Sur over the Pacific Ocean with my two little dogs in a fully converted schoolie – or school bus – without any hot water, electricity, or internet service. I was 30 at the time and I had been living out there on the bus for about, I don’t know, a couple of months at this point. I lived, in total, 6 months in Big Sur on the bus but, at this point, I think it was more around three or four months.

 

I would have to drive about 45 minutes to an hour to Monterey to do any simple errands such as grocery shopping, laundry, refueling my car, or even getting internet access. I created a weekly ritual to do all these things where I would go into Monterey or Carmel each Sunday and get everything done. While I waited for my laundry, I would go get lunch at a nearby restaurant and it was the same spot every week. I had the same ritual before I would return back to Big Sur. I was living there and working a little gallery job at the time. For anyone who has not either traveled Route 1 or traveled to Big Sur, it is a much different lifestyle than being a tourist there. You really have to adapt to the lifestyle overall and you have to work to live there, that’s for sure. I mean work at living there.

 

One of these Sundays, as I was waiting for my laundry, I went to my usual spot for lunch. As I walked in, I immediately noticed someone making clear and intentional eye contact with me and I just kind of knew this person would end up approaching me. Just the way our eyes met, the way that he looked at me, I kind of felt as though he wanted to say something. It was kind of an underlying dread like, “Here we go. I’m going to have to interact with this person.” I would consider myself more of an introvert, so I don’t typically– I mean, I do go out to eat alone often and I do a lot of things alone which I don’t mind but, sometimes, I feel like I’m a little more shut off from socializing. But I got the feeling he wanted to talk to me and I figured, “I’m going to come here and get lunch anyway. We’ll see what happens.”

 

I sat down at the only available booth, which was actually right nearby him, and I pulled out my laptop at the time. Although I was working at a gallery in Big Sur, I was also working on applications to a couple of jobs – the plan to relocate from Big Sur – because, again, it was super isolating and challenging. I had a great time. I learned so much living there, but I’m an art teacher and I wanted to get back into that. I missed it a lot. Anyway, I started working on those things.

 

I placed my order and I started working on my applications and this man turned and asked me what I was working on, which I kind of anticipated he would. I gave him a brief answer, just saying, “Oh, just a couple of job applications.” I was hoping not to really engage his attention but, instead, it kind of piqued his interest. He asked if he could join me. I’m kind of a people pleaser. I would consider myself pretty friendly. Even though I just wanted to work on these applications and have my lunch in solitude, I said, “Yeah, of course, you can join me. Come on over.” So he did.

 

He began asking me questions right off the bat and they were kind of deep for sort of just meeting. He introduced himself with deeper questions than you would expect from a sort of stranger. They’re more personal and that intrigued me. In fact, I wasn’t put off. I wasn’t shocked or offended. I was intrigued. I thought, “Okay, this is different.” Typically, when you just meet somebody, it’s more surface level stuff. A conversation with strangers is more interesting when we get down to some deeper things. I don’t love small talk but I am a sucker for those deeper, more meaningful conversations. So it was kind of off to a good start.

 

I answered his questions with honesty. There were questions like, “Did you follow a man out here?” I hadn’t even told him that I was from the East Coast and had relocated somewhat recently within the past year. I moved to California in October of 2020 and this, again, was in March 2021. He asked me if I followed a man out here, which was right. I was kind of shocked, I suppose, at first and I thought, “Well, that’s kind of a typical story. People follow their partner.”

 

It was then he asked me, “Are you applying for these jobs seeking validation from others?” And that took me back because I felt like it’s one thing to ask, “Why are you applying for these jobs or what are you applying for?”, but it was like a two-parter. “Are you applying for these jobs to seek validation from others?” I was answering his questions. I told him why I thought I was applying for these jobs and that it was time for a change, and he asked me if it was what I really wanted to do. He could tell certain things about me that I hadn’t shared – things that you might not know just based on looking at someone.

 

I was wearing these giant, what he called, Elton John sunglasses. I was wearing a bucket hat. I feel that, when I go out in public, I kind of put on this sort of half disguise in order to not be approached but it didn’t work. It kind of drew him to me. So I answered those questions and he was bold enough to continue asking other questions. He shared things with me about myself, which I suppose anyone would like to hear. He said that I was capable of doing anything I wanted to but I just wasn’t aware of that yet. I just needed to wield my power.

 

He just seemed to be able to almost read my mind and my energy. He knew most of the answers to his questions already. It was almost like he was asking just to confirm what he seemed to already know. He did not allow me to break eye contact which I thought was interesting. He constantly seemed to be scanning my face and watching my body language with intention, looking for cues about me. He would react to the slightest shift in my posture, realizing if he asked about certain things that would create discomfort, he would back off if that’s what I wanted. He was just constantly scanning me up and down and it wasn’t in maybe a violating way, it wasn’t in a way where I felt uncomfortable. It seemed like he was really in tune or really trying to read me.

 

He himself was a very tall and broad man. He had long hair that he kept in a bun, long dark hair, and he had a really thick accent. He was Israelian and he was probably in his 50s. Again, at the time, I was just a newly thirty. Originally, I wanted him not to bother me but then I unexpectedly started to become somewhat attracted to him – maybe not attracted to his overall appearance physically – but it wasn’t about that. It was more about his presence, his intrigue, his interest, and the way he kept the conversation moving. It wasn’t dull and it was exciting. It was unlike anyone I had spoken to at this point. I had spent quite a bit of time by myself at the end of one long-term relationship and I was sort of still grieving that and finding my way, and then here’s this person who seems to be interested in my life for some reason.

 

Originally, again, I didn’t really want him to bother me, but then I kind of wanted him to stay. He seems so genuinely interested in knowing me and communicating with me about my energy. He said that when I walked into the restroom, I had filled the space with brightness but he would also feel about me that I had a clear underlying sadness, which was true. I thought, “Yeah, that’s something you could say to most people” and it probably is true. It was that among other things that just got me interested.

 

For anyone who might not know much about living in Big Sur, it is extremely remote and there’s a very low population – 1,000 people or less – but it’s dispersed throughout the entire town, you might say, along Route 1. It’s pretty random and far apart. If you have neighbors, they are a ways away from you. Many of the housing situations are pretty unique and hard to reach. People live in yurts. They live in parts of homes. A lot of people who maybe work doing landscaping live in a part of another person’s home. People live in buses like I did or shipping containers or RVs or tents or whatever they can find, really. They even have, like, human-sized nests out there. So it’s a very small town and a very popular tourist attraction. But again, living there is so much different than actually being a visitor on vacation there. So I learned that the hard way.

 

I commuted to work every day on my bicycle because it was easier than driving. My driveway was about a 15-minute long drive but I wanted the exercise and it was so beautiful out there that riding my bike an hour to and from work seemed like a lot of fun. It would be a missed opportunity if I didn’t. So everyone’s house is in the middle of nowhere and every driveway is a seemingly inaccessible dirt road off another road that connects to Route 1. I mention this because, as I was following this total stranger that we spoke for maybe 20, 30 minutes, I was following him back to his studio and I had no clue who he is, where his studio was, if this is even legitimate and how far off route this is, and if I’m going to be taken without any service at all.

 

So it’s probably important for me to tell you why I’m on my way out to this stranger’s place. He did end up paying for my lunch and finally shared a little bit about himself, stating that he practiced massage and energy work in Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur, among other territories. He told me that he believed he could really help me through some things with massage and he invited me to his studio for a massage and energy work session. I’ve had energy work before, I’ve had massage before, and I was like, “Yeah, that sounds really awesome, that sounds nice. I would totally be down for that.” I entertained the idea and I expressed interest to him for booking a session, and I was like, “Oh, well, maybe give me your contact information.” And I asked him for a time that might work in his schedule, and he said, “How about right now?” And being put on the spot again – I’m kind of a people pleaser – I said, “Okay, yeah, I have time right now.” Even though all of me thought, “Oh no, I’m not ready for this,” I said, “Yes. I’d go get a massage.”

 

I let him know that I need to still wait for and collect my laundry and asked him if I could just have an address, and part of me was already thinking like, “Oh, I just want to build in some time to change my mind by maybe getting his number and telling him like, ‘Not today. Maybe another day,” just to think about it. As the sort of introvert I am, I was just looking for an out. I was hoping to build in some time to change my mind but he was pretty charming and pretty relentless. He told me he would wait for me to get my laundry and I could just follow him to his massage studio in my car over to where he did his work.

 

So I drove the 40 minutes down long windy roads following him and finally arrived at a large house in the middle of nowhere. Of course, it’s Big Sur and it was along a string of seemingly other empty houses. Maybe they were vacation rentals for families, I’m not sure, but they all seemed kind of abandoned. As we arrived, it sort of set in that I was joining this man who was essentially a stranger to his personal home. This was his house. This wasn’t a massage studio or spa or office like I had originally pictured. Part of me felt like I should have known better because of the nature of Big Sur. There’s a lot of community, which is great. And a lot of free love and a lot of things are done privately from homes.

 

I was nervous for sure to get out of my car and follow this person into what was unknown to me, but it looked like a very nice house. I thought to myself, “What am I doing? I’m just following this random person to his house. I barely know him. I had no proof or evidence that anything he had said to me was true, or if he was even a real massage therapist.” So I know what you’re all thinking. “Why would you do that? Why would you follow the total stranger into his house? At any point, you could have bailed. You could have just kept driving. You could have seen the house and left.” I understand that and I don’t encourage anybody to follow strangers to their houses. Certainly, listen to your own little voice or gut feeling or intuition or whatever it is that you make decisions based off of. For me, I did get the feeling I was safe.

 

I was a little bit nervous just because I hadn’t met this person and I tend to be somewhat socially awkward anyway. I did let several people know where I was going because, at that point, I did have the address. Even though I had no service volumes out there, I did feel like I somewhat trusted this person or I at least felt comfortable enough where I was like, “Let’s see where this goes.” My curiosity sort of was overriding any nervousness or fear. He seemed super genuine and kind, and I know a lot of people can– maybe some people will say, “Well, that’s grooving.” But I can say, here I am today telling the story, so nothing bad came of it. But again, I don’t encourage anyone to follow strangers to homes. I just went with my own intuition and felt like this was something that I should be doing.

 

I blindly followed him up the steps into his home and he told me the studio was in the guest house which was another outdoor staircase away outside. So, we had to exit the house once again and go up the steps into this little guest suite and it was, like, an in-law apartment. I followed him up there and inside was a bed, a massage table, some couches, a bathroom, a kitchen. It was truly like a fully furnished and equipped guest suite and I was relieved to see some massage accessories in there to sort of confirm, “Okay, I am where I should be.” This includes the massage oils, the sheets, the massage table bed, the right music, the scents, and everything that I felt a massage space would have.

 

He gave me a short list of instructions which included taking my clothes off, which I had no clue that’s where we were going. I’ve had massages but never fully naked. He told me that I’d be carrying out a chakra stone ritual before we started which was just basically holding each stone of each chakra point in your hand with some intention. He walked me through this and he told me to complete the ritual before we started and then told me to lay down and drape a sheet over my body when I was ready. My heart kind of sank at this point because I did not realize I was going to be doing this completely nude. Again, I don’t encourage anyone– if they’re not comfortable getting completely nude, don’t do it. Just say to this person, “Well, I’m going to stay clothed.” That’s your boundary and they have to respect that.

 

I’ve never done this before at this point where I got completely nude. Again, my curiosity just totally overwhelmed me and I thought, “You know what? I’m already here. I made it this far. I met this person. I’m going to go all the way and see what this is about.” I didn’t feel unsafe. I didn’t feel threatened. I felt, “Okay, I’m going to try it.” Even though I was very nervous, I did have half a mind to get out of there but had already committed. I’ll admit, curiosity, again, was the driving force here.

 

He told me I could undress in the bathroom in the space and he would step out regardless. He told me once I reentered the space that he had set up to put the chakra stones outside the door in this giant seashell and that would let him know I was ready. So I came back out from undressing and I put the sheet over my body and he had left me a really sweet letter that he was so grateful I was there. He called me a beautiful goddess. I’m still getting some mixed messages. I wasn’t sure what was happening but I thought it was nice.

 

He had set the mood with the candles and the scents and he said again to let him know once I was ready so he would start. So I laid myself down. I put the shell and the stones outside the door. I wrapped myself in the sheet. I got on the table and he came in. He dimmed the lighting and he played soft, relaxing music. He came back in and didn’t say a word and when he did come back, I had no clue what to expect. I just laid there for a little bit. He jumped right in with the hot massage oil and his hands all over my body and he said nothing.

 

He began massaging my body every square inch. It was really unlike anything I’d ever felt before, including the uneasiness of having a stranger’s hands all over you in some of the most intimate ways. I couldn’t get a sense of if this was sexual in nature or not. I thought maybe I’d never had a massage this in-depth before, but he wasn’t missing any areas of my body. It certainly felt very good. Whatever he was doing, it was working.

 

He started narrating some of the responsive areas of my body and sharing where you could tell I had some sort of stress or trauma. He would tell me my back is really responsive but my thighs were really reluctant and that resonated with me. He wasn’t asking for any information or looking for a response from me. He wasn’t asking why this was happening or if I felt anything. He was just talking calmly and relaxing. He was simply stating what he felt beneath his hands in each portion of my body, including my skin, my muscles, and even areas. I would typically only ever let someone I was very close with and romantically involved with and comfortable enough emotionally to allow them to touch me. So it was interesting to know what somebody believes they could feel about my body. I was still very interested and I was getting a really amazing massage. He wasn’t wrong with a lot of the descriptions he would share.

 

I didn’t like it when he went beneath the waist or closer to my chest. He could tell I’d get nervous and tense and he would tread a little more lightly and slow down and then he started asking permission as he went along when he reapproached those areas that maybe I was less comfortable with. I was relieved to be giving some sort of consent as it seemed I was in a trance up to this point, just doing what he said without question. But again, all along the while, I did feel safe. I felt like for whatever reason I could trust him. I didn’t feel like I was in any danger. I don’t know why I blindly trusted him. It was his energy, his presence. The things he was saying just felt legitimate. I suppose part of me felt like I would probably know or feel if I was in danger.

 

This massage lasted for over two hours, even though it only felt like 20 or 30 minutes. By the end of it, I realized I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay him. I was again living in my schoolie on a cliff in Big Sur working at a little gallery job and was not necessarily rolling in it at that point. I was curious enough that I sort of forgot about that part. Realized I had just had a two-hour deep tissue professional massage, the best massage of my life and I wasn’t sure how I could pay for it, knowing that type of service is usually a small fortune.

 

By the end of the massage, he had sat me up. At this point, I wasn’t really shy about being naked anymore. I still had the sheet on, but I wasn’t shy that I was pretty vulnerable. He stared at me for a long while. I wasn’t sure really how we were going to wrap it up or what was next because this experience felt more intimate and less like a business transaction, not something like, “All right, get dressed and then figure out how to pay me and leave.”

 

He invited me onto the couch and he laid me down right next to him. He was laying down too. I wasn’t sure what was happening and I didn’t question it for some reason. He asked me if he could kiss me and this really caught me off guard because, at this point, I’m thinking this is maybe not a business transaction but a little bit more intimate than that, but I don’t know. I never got the sense it was sexual at all. I told him no and he accepted that. He invited me to come live in his guest suite though and that also caught me off guard. Essentially, we had just met and I couldn’t figure out what he wanted for me. Why would he want me to come live in his massage studio?

 

So we just laid there for a little while and he asked me if I’d be willing to come back. Of course, I said, yes. I had finally decided I needed to ask the awkward question I had been avoiding about how much I owed him. He said I owed him nothing. He was just grateful. I was there and wanted me to receive the gift of touch and be grateful for that too. So I agreed and I said, “Yeah, I would definitely be back.” I left there feeling like I was on a bit of a high and also shocked at what had just happened. It was an amazing experience, very unexpected, and I did feel great. I left there feeling amazing. I left there feeling like a new person.

 

I did end up going back twice more for two more very in-depth naked massages and found out he was actually a celebrity masseuse. For some reason, he just took a short but intense interest in me and I don’t know why. Beyond just asking me if he could kiss me, there were never any other advances. We did these massages and we actually began messaging back and forth and it became pretty personal. But it was always difficult for me to get a read on what type of interest this was. It felt, like, not so much as a friend but it didn’t feel like he wanted anything beyond that. Maybe this was just the Big Sur lifestyle. So I continued to see it through.

 

I consistently ran into him randomly around Big Sur. It always seemed odd. Like, he kind of knew where I’d be and when. He did seem to have these almost magical powers where he could kind of read my mind, my energy, what I was feeling, and where I was, and I really liked that. It was interesting. It was unlike anyone I ever met.

 

But suddenly things changed one day when I offered to help him with some yard work. I arrived at his house to help him and the dynamics had clearly changed. I remember I got out of the car and I wasn’t dressed up but I was wearing nice casual clothes. And I remember he looked me up and down and he said, “What are you wearing? This isn’t a date.” And I was very taken aback because, up to this point, he had been very sweet and welcoming. I’d approach and he’d tell me I looked beautiful and gorgeous that day. But we were clearly there to do the yard work.

 

He looked at me differently. The presence wasn’t as warm or comforting. It wasn’t the same. I felt more like I was showing up for work, not as a friend, not as a girlfriend, as someone who had just some sort of connection to him and had agreed to help, and that was fine.

 

He shared a little bit more about his life and where he was from. He talked to me about tantric sex, about books he had published. He talked to me about his experiences in Israel, his experience with a relationship, and a son that had sadly passed and opened up quite a bit. But he also had no problem directing me and treating me like an everyday person he had just hired to help. He did actually pay me for this even though I really just wanted to exchange some help after all of the gifted massages.

 

I think I realized during this interaction that the odd bubble of sensual intimate massages with a stranger was either burst or it’s just over. The next day I discovered I was actually covered in poison oak head to toe which was miserable, so I had to cancel the next massage and the next massage and, after that, we kind of just lost contact. I had been suffering with poison oak for quite a while and we just sort of lost touch and I ended up moving. I never ended up seeing him again. Still, to this day, I’m not sure why he offered me such extensive free massages that were in some ways even more intimate than sex – the way he would touch me. I do feel like he has healed a part of me. I had never been touched that way and still haven’t been touched that way since. I had reached out a couple of times but it looked like he had changed his number, or just wasn’t in service at the time.

 

He made an impact on my life though, and he planted some interesting seeds in my mind. I definitely will never forget him. I ended up moving from Big Sur about one to two months after that. Honestly, I still think about him often.

 

Scott

Our second story today is from Matt, who was at home with his young son, Emmett, when they heard an explosion.

 

The house where this happened, how long had you lived there at the time?

 

Matt

We only lived there for only a few months.

 

Scott

Oh, so you’d practically just moved in then.

 

Matt

Yes.

 

Scott

The house was near an airport. So you were used to hearing and seeing low-flying planes. What’s that like living next to an airport?

 

Matt

It was fantastic to have the low-flying airplanes right over your house. It was pretty cool. Me and my son would be out there in the backyard, in the front yard, and we’d be just watching the airplanes. Sometimes, you would see the real old-school airplanes flying over, but it was cool.

 

Scott

They would kind of fly right over your house before they got to the runway.

 

Matt

Yes. If you stood on top of the house, it seemed like if you held a broomstick up, you’d be able to touch the belly of the plane. That’s how low it seemed at the time.

 

Scott

Who was home with you when this happened?

 

Matt

It was me and my son. We were home. My wife was at work and the two other girls were at school.

 

Scott

And your son is Emmett. How old was he at the time?

 

Matt

About one, one and a half.

 

Scott

Can you describe how was your house laid out? Like, where were you when this happened?

 

Matt

Well, me and my son just came in from outside cause he was hungry for a snack and went into the kitchen. He went and sat on the couch in the living room and that’s when it happened. I was used to hearing the planes fly over, used to hearing them cut their engine off and hearing them stall out to glide the rest of the way in, so none of those noises were strangers to me. I heard the plane putter like it stalled again. I didn’t think anything of it because I would hear that all the time and see the shadow of it, which I’m no stranger to seeing the shadows of the planes as well – because while they’re that low to see a big shadow come over. Just seconds later from seeing the shadow, it was like a massive explosion hitting the house and I knew right then and there that it was a plane.

 

Scott

And how far away were you in the house from where it hit?

 

Matt

The distance, oh, you gave me a hard question.

 

Scott

I know you didn’t have a tape measure that day.

 

Matt

The plane hit the master bedroom. It was about two rooms away. Emmett’s room was somewhat small. It was the dining room first and then Emmett’s room next to it. So it was the dining room and then Emmett’s room and then the master bedroom. After I heard the explosion and felt the explosion, I knew right away that it was a plane. I don’t know how I knew that it was a plane. I just knew for a fact that it was a plane. I just fell on the floor and then saw Emmett’s face and the fear that he had on his face. I got up and ran to him. At the same time, I was thinking a million miles a second, “Okay, what should I do? What’s going to happen? What’s next? The plane hit the master bedroom or exploded. The flames are coming down the hallway. At the same time, within seconds, flames can travel faster than ever.” I don’t know how I was able to think that fast about what to do.

 

I just picked him up. One of my thoughts was, “Should I run out the front door? No. Because what if something else decides to explode inside the plane or whatnot.” So I said, “No, don’t run out the front door.” I picked him up and went out the back door. As I was thinking a million miles an hour, I could hear the gases released from the plane. I don’t know what gases but I could hear them being released from the plane – crackles and pops. I could just hear the entire plane and house burning. I took out outside the back door and ran across the street, holding him, telling him that it’s going to be okay. I ran across the street to the neighbor’s house, turning back and looking at the house. At the same time, while trying to dial 911, I was thinking, “Is this a far enough distance away from the house because, again, what if something else explodes – gas line or whatnot?” But I figured that I’m pretty safe across the street just trying to dial 911.

 

Looking down at the phone, there were hundreds of buttons being pushed because the adrenaline was going and I was trying to comfort him. At the same time, I was making sure that he was not hurt and that I was not hurt. I didn’t get to dial 911 because, before I knew it, the Upland PD came screeching around the corner and an ambulance came right around the corner. So they came pretty darn fast.

 

Scott

Your neighbors were dialing 911 while you were scooping Emmett up and running out your back door.

 

Matt

I believe so because when I ran out across the street, a few seconds later, my neighbors came running out of the house across the street – and a few others – so I believe one of them at least did, as I know there were several of them who said that they saw the low flying plane come in.

 

Medic Engine 164

Comm Center, Medic Engine 164. We have a large column of smoke due east of our station. Are you getting any calls?

 

911 Operator

164, we’re getting a call for it right now. Stand by.

 

911 Operator

You’ve been transferred to the fire department and paramedics. What’s the address of your emergency?

 

Male 1

Across the street from here, a plane fell on a house, and the whole block’s on fire. It’s across the street, hurry.

 

911 Operator

Okay, we’re on the way.

 

Male 1

It’s an emergency. The whole block’s on fire.

 

911 Operator

How big is the plane?

 

Male 1

I don’t know. There was a helicopter and pieces fell all over the street. It seemed to be a blue light plane.

 

911 Operator

Okay, do you know if anybody is out of the helicopter?

 

Male 1

No, I think there were many injuries.

 

911 Operator

Many injuries?

 

Male 1

It hit a house. It hit a house. There’s black smoke. You can hear it from the police department.

 

911 Operator

Okay, we have the fire department on the way, okay?

 

Male 1

Yes, there’s black smoke, there’s people maybe in the house, and there’s people carrying injuries. God bless America. Jesus Christ.

 

911 Operator

Okay, sir. Bye bye.

 

Police

Alpha Police, are you calling about the plane crash?

 

911 Operator

Yes. Comm Center. Do you guys have something for us?

 

Police

We’re just getting multiple calls and they were asking for an ETA from you guys because multiple houses are catching on fire.

 

911 Operator

Okay, do we know how many houses are on fire? We’re going into the area now.

 

Police

I think there’s three so far.

 

911 Operator

Okay, I’ll let them know.

 

Matt

The paramedic that came to look at us said that they were actually on another call and they saw the plane dip down and they called in and said, “No, they’re coming over to this house because they were just right around the corner.” I immediately just called my wife and told her, “You need to come home. A plane just hit the house. Me and Emmett are okay. I have to go. I love you. Bye,” and hung up. And then I immediately called my parents so they could try to come over and help me with getting him so I could handle whatever.

 

Scott

Has your wife talked about what it’s like to get a phone call like that?

 

Matt

Well, she said that she thought that I was talking about a luggage or a piece of a plane that came off and hit the house and she didn’t realize it until coming into the neighborhood.

 

Scott

You drive home and you see a plane in your roof.

 

Matt

Yeah, I Was able to see the tail of the plane melt into the house.

 

Scott

How did your daughters find out?

 

Matt

My wife called her parents and then her parents called the school, and the counselors told them to come to their office immediately, and they were told by them and then they were able to be picked up by my wife’s parents.

 

Scott

Were you or Emmett injured at all?

 

Matt

We weren’t touched by anything at all. We were very lucky that we didn’t get any burns, scrapes – nothing. I don’t know how because the explosion, the fire coming around the corner– I mean, I can smell, feel, but we didn’t get touched. The rest of the day after the crash, I was pretty much there for several hours afterward because of the fire department and police department – with the Red Cross giving reports asking what happened and what I heard – trying to bring out a few of our keepsakes that were in the garage, several of our wedding boxes that we had in the garage. We were able to get several of the kids’ keepsakes out of the garage.

 

Scott

So the Red Cross was there the same day?

 

Matt

Yes.

 

Scott

And how did they approach you or how did they interact with you?

 

Matt

They were friendly and calm. They called us over and they were talking to us, and asking if we needed any kind of help or whatnot.

 

Scott

It’s a pretty amazing organization. I mean, this is what they do. They’re on scene at any kind of natural disaster or something like this.

 

Matt

And they are quick. I had no idea that they were that quick on being on site.

 

Scott

The pilot of the plane was actually the one that owned that plane and he was killed in the crash. Did you ever hear about anything like what caused it or what may have happened?

 

Matt

No, I didn’t hear any kind of reports of what caused it or what happened, so that is still unclear to me. I’d like to know what happened or what caused it but I haven’t heard any reports about it.

 

Scott

Once the fire was put out, can you describe how badly damaged was the house?

 

Matt

It was pretty much total damage except for the garage. The garage was somewhat intact. Other than that, everything else was gone.

 

Scott

So you lost clothing, furniture…

 

Matt

Everything. All of it. Jewelry, everything.

 

Scott

Did you happen to have renter’s insurance?

 

Matt

No.

 

Scott

This would be a good episode for an insurance company to be a sponsor of this episode to get renter’s insurance.

 

Matt

Oh yeah. We do now. So that’s for sure.

 

Scott

Someone started to go fund me. Who started that?

 

Matt

That would be my wife’s brother. He started it. It helped us a lot in buying the kids what they needed, buying my wife what she needed, and several things like that. I didn’t really want anything. I wanted them to have everything they needed. That’s pretty much what I wanted them to have.

 

Scott

Yeah. When the house is destroyed, you lose your clothes and you lose all the furniture. It’s like starting from scratch, sort of.

 

Matt

Yeah. My dad took us to Target or something that evening and just bought a few things and started from there.

 

Scott

This happened a couple of years ago. Does Emmett remember anything about it?

 

Matt

At the time, I didn’t think so. But, when several of the airplanes would pass over the loud noises, he would freak out and try to run inside or run into my arms. So, I think there was a brief moment of him remembering just because when we would sit out in the front yard, he would love to see them and look at them but, after that, he would run away after hearing the planes. But now he’s fine. He doesn’t have any issues with that.

 

Scott

Would you ever live near an airport again?

 

Matt

I don’t know. I don’t think so. But I wouldn’t be opposed to going back to the airport and watching the airplanes fly in. I know it would make me nervous but it’s fantastic to see the low-flying planes, the planes landing and taking off. But every time a plane comes in low over this house, I do look up and stare at it and see, “Where it’s going. How’s it flying?” I’ll be in the house and I’ll hear a low, loud plane, and I’ll wonder, “Where is it at? Is it over me or is it over the neighbor’s house? “

 

Scott

Any part of this that I didn’t ask about that we should talk about?

 

Matt

Well, before the crash, actually, when we came in for his snack that time, 11 AM was actually his nap time. So it would have been his nap time except he wasn’t tired. He wanted to keep playing.

 

Scott

I’ve seen the pictures. His room was destroyed.

 

Matt

Yes. So we would have actually been asleep if he did not want to continue playing after his snack.

 

Scott

And do you normally nap when he does?

 

Matt

Yes.

 

Scott

And you would have been in the master bedroom where the plane came right in.

 

Matt

Yes. And if my wife and kids were home, the kids were always in their rooms and my wife would have been taking a nap along with us.

 

Scott

Well, good for him. Emmett had some energy that day that saved everybody.

 

Matt

Oh, yes. I think so.

 

Scott

And our final story today is from a mother talking about what happened to her teenage daughter.

 

Mother

April 2nd, 2002, was one of those really beautiful spring days that make you want to stop and breathe deeply and soak up the sun for a moment. The air felt so clean. It was a symbol of the end of winter and a reminder of new beginnings. Being Texas, it was warm enough to be in short sleeves and still be comfortable. The trees had leafed out enough to form the shaded canopy over the road that added to the peaceful beauty of living in a mostly rural area on the edge of town.

 

My 16-year-old daughter, Charis, and I had a habit of taking an evening walk together. We had a fairly typical mother-daughter relationship. She was friends with me one minute, laughing and talking, and hated me the next, but mostly we were good. I was bravely forging on in the world of parenting a teen girl who had always had a fairly volatile personality. She was very loud and boisterous, outgoing and outspoken. When she wanted to be sweet, oh, she was such a joy and so much fun. But if she was in a bad mood, everyone knew it and suffered for it.

 

Walking down our little cul de sac that day, she began to loosen up as she was running ahead and then turning to come back to walk alongside me as she shared her stories. In my memory, it was just a typical walk in the countryside on a spring day in Texas. A mom and daughter walking along, laughing and talking. At the halfway point, as we turned and crossed the road for the trek back, she saw a tree with a low-hanging branch. She ran ahead, grabbed hold of the branch, and swung out on it. I walked past as she gave it a few more tries.

 

After a bit, I noticed that she had fallen behind. I assumed she was still swinging on that tree. I got perhaps 20 feet ahead of her and turned to see what she was doing. She was standing right in the middle of the road halfway bent over with her hands on her knees like someone who’s winded from a really long, fast run. So, I walked back to her and I said, “What’s wrong?” She told me her chest hurt and I said, “Well, take a few breaths and you’ll be okay.”

 

Instead of being okay, she sat down and then lay down. I was starting to get a bit irritated and then concerned as I battled the internal question of, “Is she being a dramatic teen or is she genuinely having a problem?” I knelt in front of her and said firmly, Charis, you cannot lay in the middle of the road. Let’s move to the side and I’ll go and get the car.

 

She had broken out in a fine sweat all over and her skin was even paler than normal. My concern turned to fear at this point and I started shaking all over. She laid there with her eyes rolling up, lids half open, staring at nothing. She was moaning. So I knew she was breathing but she just kept moaning over and over. I knelt down beside her begging her in a quivering voice, “Please stop. Please don’t do this. Please stop. You’re scaring me.” Everything would be just fine if she would only listen to me.

 

Well, I’m the type of person that is good at compartmentalizing my emotions. I knew that she was relying on me to help and I had literally no choice but to be brave and in control. I could not let her see how terrified and unsure I was in this situation. So, I took a deep breath and put that terrible panicky fear in a mental box. A very kind gentleman stopped and picked us up and took us home where I got her in my car and drove her to the ER myself. As I was driving, my mind was racing, refusing to believe it was serious, trying to keep her calm and help her not to panic while my normally stoic daughter moaned and cried in pain.

 

At the hospital, I sat in confusion and worry as so many tests were run and the medical team seemed more and more hurried. I still maintained an outwardly strong and in-control attitude. Charis was terrified and in pain and looking to me for assurance. I finally interrupted a nurse and asked her what was wrong with my daughter. She pointed to the doctor on the other side of the nurse’s station and said, “Go ask him.” I can still see it in my mind’s eye 22 years later, almost like a dream sequence, zeroing in on a figure at the end of a long black tunnel, sort of a symbolic crossing over from naively believing things will be fine to enter a terrifying new world.

 

Walking up to him, I asked, “Doctor, what is wrong with my daughter?” He turned around, put his hand on my upper arm, and said softly, “In all my years, I’ve never seen a 16-year-old like this. She’s had a heart attack. We’ve called a helicopter to fly her to Fort Worth.” My mind is screaming at me, “No way!” But I know I can’t cry or show that I’m so scared and feel so helpless. She’s feet away from me and needs me.

 

I turned to watch as the doctor intubated her as she was quickly deteriorating and slipping into a coma. To my horror, the medical team was frantically working on her, squeezing in the blue bag to help her breathe as froth bubbled up around the tube in her mouth and throat, spilling down her face and her neck. In the background, I could hear the helicopter landing and the paramedic team coming in. I was so scared, horrified, stunned, shocked, you name it. I tried so hard to control my wild emotions at that moment.

 

A lady paramedic put her armor on my shoulder and in a soft and comforting voice told me, Go ahead and kiss her and tell her goodbye. She can hear you. I was scared to touch her and didn’t want to let her go. I squeezed her cold, limp hand, kissed her forehead, and urgently whispered, “I love you, baby. Hang on.” Then I watched as they literally ran out the door with my baby. When I got to the hospital that they had flown her to, I was ushered into a private room where several family members and our minister had already gathered. A doctor came in with a grim face, telling us that she wasn’t expected to make it. I was still trying to maintain emotional control. I was afraid if I gave in to it, I would be unable to regain stability, so I kept it as bottled up as I could but was unable to stop tears from welling up and falling anyway.

 

She had surgery that night, in which her heart stopped numerous times. By this point, I was so numb that all that earned was a head nod and okay from me. When we finally got to see her in the ICU, she looked so tiny and vulnerable. I had never seen so many IV lines and machines in my life. They were all hooked up to her. She was unconscious on a ventilator covered in bandages and so terribly pale. It was horrifying to see my child go from a completely healthy and active 16-year-old to this frail, thin, fragile, and very sick girl in less than 24 hours.

 

Within 48 hours of the initial surgery, it was evident that the surgery was not going to fix her heart, which was 80% destroyed. Her only option was a transplant. As a parent, there are so many things that you control – some parents more than others. You decide what they eat, what they wear, where they live, who they play with, where they go to school, and on and on. You protect them, teach them, guide them, but you still have control. Suddenly, it was like I had thrown her off a proverbial cliff. The medical community was her parachute and it had a hole in it. All I could do was stand on the cliff with my family. and watch her plummet toward death while the doctors furiously sewed up the parachute hole.

 

Obviously, doctors included me in her care plan and I had to sign permission but, in reality, I had no choice but to trust they were doing what they could to save her life. Terrified and lost as I was, I still had to control my emotions when I was at her bedside. Another squeeze of a cold hand, another kiss on her pale forehead, another goodbye as she was loaded into another helicopter and transferred to Dallas. Tests and more tests filled the first day at the new hospital and within a day she was on the transplant list.

 

I settled into the routine of visiting her, visiting family, crying when outside her room, and being cheerful and encouraging when I was with her. She was semi-comatose since she was on life support. She could write notes but she slept most of the time. I remember glancing at her notepad one day to see that she had written a note to a nurse. It read, “Am I going to die?” It took every ounce of internal fortitude to not react to that in front of her. Be positive, cheerful, and encouraging, Robyn. Instantly, I dissolved in tears after leaving her room, knowing that she was as terrified and alone as I was. How do you process that? How do you tell your child, “No, you won’t die?” when that’s a very real possibility?

 

Every morning, I would pray, “God, please let her live through the day, so I can spend the hours with her.” And I would also pray, “God, please be with the family that will be losing a loved one soon even if that family is us.” I couldn’t pray for a donor for her. That felt too much like praying for a child’s death. So, I just prayed for a family that was going to lose someone special to them. Every night, just before bed, I would pray, “God, please let her live through the night so that I can see her tomorrow.” Every day, the doctors would tell us that she was on the edge and the sickest girl in the CVICU.

 

On the 10th day at that hospital, I was helping the nurse give her a bath. As we rolled her over, I stared in horror at her back. I could see every single bone and rib. Her pelvic bones protruded. It reminded me of the pictures of anorexic teens. She was a small girl anyway, naturally very thin but healthy. Now she was so gaunt and fragile. She was beginning to get pressure sores that the nurse pointed out to me. She was exhausted. I was exhausted. I felt so beat down by this continual living on the edge, waiting for the hammer to fall, desperately hanging on to my child and to the hope of her coming through this. My brain hurts, my body hurts, my heart hurts.

 

As I went to bed that night, instead of my usual prayer, I prayed, “God, whatever it is you’re going to do with her, please go ahead and do it.” Knowing that it meant I was turning loose and asking God to take her if that was the eventual outcome. I felt a bit relieved to pray that prayer and to let go of that last semblance of control that I was hanging on to, determined to see it through and be a loving, cheerful presence for her. Then I went to bed.

 

At two in the morning, the bedside phone rang. God had answered my prayer. He had provided a heart for her. I immediately sank to my knees in thankfulness and prayer for a generous family that tragically lost a dear member. Once again, a squeeze of a cold, limp hand, a kiss on her tired head, and a prayer gathered around her bed as she was wheeled through the doors. This moment of paralyzing fear and horror was the worst yet. I knew they were going to remove her heart. No going back. No room for error. This could be my last glimpse of her alive if anything went wrong.

 

I sobbed and cried for a very long time, curled in a ball on the floor. She sailed through surgery wonderfully and started getting out of bed and doing physical therapy the next day. Two weeks later, we were home. We settled into the routine of catching up on schoolwork, establishing a routine of meds twice a day, doctor and physical therapy three times a week, and learning how to control germs and exposure to illnesses.

 

My thoughts often turn to the family. I prayed for them daily. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know the age, gender, location, or circumstances. Of course, we were very curious. It was probably three months later that we learned that her donor was a 12-year-old boy. When I heard that, it was like I got hit in the chest. I couldn’t breathe for a second. I was stunned and so sad. I wrote the family a letter, and Charis did too. How can you put into words your gratefulness that they gave their child’s organ to you at the worst possible moment in their lives?

 

Through back-and-forth communication, we learned that he was killed in a tragic four-wheeler accident. His family and ours decided that we wanted to meet, and we set up our meeting at a restaurant in Dallas. I brought flowers for his mom and a stuffed animal for his sister, who was the same age as Charis.

 

As I hugged his mother, I could see such a mixture of grief and joy on her face. I myself had a weird mix of joy, elation, pride, guilt, and sorrow all at the same time. This beautiful mom standing in front of me was my walking through the fire sister. We had both experienced the worst situation we had ever faced, but I came through with my child and she came through without hers. How do you thank a family for a decision made at such a horrible time? Thank you seemed so inadequate, but it was all I could muster at the moment, through tears on both of our parts. We kept in touch for a long time and, eventually, Charis was the one communicating with them. She still does to this day.

 

One day, she went to Build A Bear and bought a longhorn, which was the donor’s favorite football team and she put a recording of his heart in it and sent it to them. Moments like that brought those repressed tears to the surface for me. Having a transplant is not the end of a medical journey. It is the beginning of a lifelong one. Charis has faced it with grace and determination. She consciously chose to look on the positive side and rejoice in her life instead of dwelling on her hard times.

 

She has never been non-compliant with her meds even though that is common among adolescent transplant patients. The meds that suppress rejection of the organ cause other issues with a patient’s body. She has had a very tough round of lymphoma and chemotherapy, had a baby when she wasn’t even supposed to be able to conceive, a few rounds of rejection, and many hospital stays and surgeries over the years. She got married, went to college, worked, and became a mom to a gorgeous son who’s now 15.

 

Near the tail end of the COVID era, her heart was giving out and her kidneys too. There was discussion of retransplanting. During testing, it was discovered that her liver had also failed. In May of 2021, she received a triple transplant in Houston. Unlike the first time, she has not received any information about this donor other than overhearing a comment about a young woman. She currently lives about three hours away from me, is married, raising her son, and working part time from home. I’m so incredibly proud of the woman that she is and how she looks at this hand that life has dealt her and deliberately chosen the positive outlook.

 

Scott

I’d be interested to hear what you think of this kind of episode. In the episode notes you can get a full transcription, and you can also see some pictures of Matt’s house after the plane crash and the fire. That’s all at WhatWasThatLike.com/179.

 

Earlier this week on the Tuesday Question episode, Meredith and I talked about something we lost, that we’d like to get back. For me, it was a letter I wrote when I was young – to myself in 10 years. Really wish I could find that letter now. We do the Tuesday Question episodes every other Tuesday, the same week we have a regular What Was That Like episode.

 

And if you want to answer a Tuesday question yourself, we do that every single Tuesday morning in the Facebook group. The question that’s live right now is this: What’s something your parents did to you, that you’ll never do to your children? And we’re waiting to hear YOUR answer to that question. It all happens in the private podcast Facebook group where we have over 7000 listeners and new people are joining every day. You can join us at WhatWasThatLike.com/facebook.

 

Graphics for this episode were created by Bob Bretz. Full episode transcription was created by James Lai.

 

And now we’re at one of my favorite things about this show – the Listener Story. Every episode, at the end, we hear a short story that was sent in by a listener. If you’ve ever had anything interesting happen to you (and of course you have, lots of things) – we want to hear it! It can happy, sad, funny, whatever – just record it on your phone, like 5-10 minutes roughly, and email it to me – Scott@WhatWasThatLike.com.

 

This week’s story is from someone who took an unexpected fall.

 

Stay safe! And I’ll be back here in a week, with a Flashback story!

 

(Listener Story)

 

Hi, my name is Lily. I’m from Virginia. I’m 22. This story happened to me, I believe, when I was 6 years old. Me and my family were on a cruise ship. This cruise ship was going to Mexico. Whatever port that we were supposed to go to originally, for some reason, we could not go there. I couldn’t remember why but we ended up having to dock at this port that had no gate and no railing around it at all. I was walking around with my family with lots of people around.

 

I didn’t know how this event happened with all these people around. I was looking up at the side of the window. We were on the dock. Everyone had left the ship. I was looking up at one of the windows on the ship and I saw that there was a purse in the window but it was on the inside. It was almost to where I could touch the window, so I walked up to the side of the ship and I fell in between the dock and the ship. It was, like, a 10-20 foot drop into the ocean.

 

I remember being able to tread water. I had taken swimming lessons. That’s probably the only way that I would have been completely alright because I ended up completely unscathed. But I remember treading water for a few minutes. Looking back, under the dock was complete darkness. It was daytime but, underneath the dock, you cannot see anything. I remember just treading water for a few minutes and I remember a rope being tossed down to me. My mom told me later that my dad was screaming, “EL ROPO!” which does not mean rope in Spanish.

 

Yeah, completely terrified but I don’t remember being terrified. I just knew how to swim. I was calm. I do remember watching my little glittery jello shoe fall off my foot and float down into the ocean. A firefighter was able to come down and get me and they hoisted us up – I don’t remember how long this all took but it was probably under 5-10 minutes – and they took me to the ship’s little clinic I guess they had, and they gave me some M&Ms and a stuffed dolphin. And that’s my story.