There Are No Coincidences

December 19, 2008
By Austin Joplin, Mesa, AZ

Have you ever had your face masticated slowly by giant sewer-roaches while your feet bathed in menacing, scorching coals? That hasn’t happened to me either, but I thought it was a good attention grabber. This is how the true story goes; it was an ordinary trip up to the Mogollon Rim. My dad was recklessly driving, singing to his favorite Eagles CD. My brother-in-law Aaron was in the passenger seat, trying to waste time by chewing on sunflower seeds and texting the whole world. As for my friend Saxon and I, we were in the back drooling with boredom trying to make up random card games to stop ourselves from going insane. It was early spring and the snow had just about finished melt, leaving patches of grimy sludge on the ground. The air was crisp and we were ready to go riding on a routine trip.

After two excruciating long hours of driving, we finally reached our campsite on top of The Rim. Since there were four of us and three vehicles, one dirt-bike and two quads, one of us needed to stay behind. My dad volunteered to relax back at camp while we went out riding. So, as always, Aaron took the lead and led us down this trail and that trail; we were having a fantastic time. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary…

Then, Aaron put me in the lead. As we zoomed down the road, I saw a side trail calling, tempting me. I took a last minute left, my tires screeching against the heavy gravel, and they quickly followed me onto the perfect trail, or at least what I thought was a perfect trail. It turned out that this “amazing trail” leads to yet another campsite. Almost as if to taunt us, there was one, miniature ramp. I explode towards the ramp but something didn’t feel right. In the second that I had to examine the ramp, I noticed that it was lopsided. There was just something in the pit of my stomach that told me not to go off the ramp. So at the last moment I veered right out of the way. However, Aaron took the devils bait went off the ramp.
That was where everything went wrong. In mid-air, his foot slipped off the foot-hold, his knee hit the side of the quad and he let out a silent scream. He fell to the ground, holding back tears, acting as the adult, and yelled at me “Austin! Help me up onto the quad!” I was in panic mode, so I stood there frozen and he helped himself up the quad with a grunt and a stiff leg and sped off. Saxon and I hopped on our vehicles and followed him back to camp. We got there shortly after and he was lying in the car holding back signs of pain. Not wanting to ruin our time there, he told us to go out for yet another ride. We went out riding for approximately thirty minutes before we returned. My dad came up and asked me if I wanted to leave, because Aaron did, so I said “Yea, I guess.” We packed up and headed for home.
As we were traveling down the dirt road, a pasty white SUV soared past us, leaving us in the dust. Not thinking anything about why the man was in such a hurry, we just kept driving along, saddened at the lost of an amazing day. Another mile or so, I was perpetually warped. It was the most ghastly scene that haunts me to this day. The same exact car that rocketed past us earlier on the road had crashed. After studying the crash, we assumed that the car had rolled over into a ditch on the side of the road. Its front grill was smashed up against a giant pine-tree. My dad slammed on the brakes screaming “Get out of the car!” So Saxon and I leaped out of our seats while my dad and Aaron drove down the dirt road to the ranger station. We circled the car looking for passengers; debris splattered everywhere as if a tornado picked up the car. I had no clue what to do. So many questions were flooding my brain. Where was the driver? Were there other passengers besides the driver? Did they live? When I saw the driver’s motionless body, lying up against a fallen tree, I nearly fainted. His back was scraped from road rash. There were no signs of life coming from the body. No words can explain what I felt that day. To my luck, a car was driving by, so we flagged down the car. We asked for help and out came a qualified doctor. My dad returned and we had to spare first aid kits which the doctor used to tend to the man. We were able to stay long enough for to see the man sit up, but unfortunately, we had to leave because Aaron was in pain of his own.

When we got back home, Aaron went to the hospital and they said he screwed up his knee when he went off the jump. He completely tore his ACL, he tore his MCL and he tore his meniscus. I never found out what happened to the driver of the SUV. It got me to think of why things happen in life. What if we left earlier, right when Aaron got hurt instead of waiting thirty minutes to go ride, and never saw that driver? What if I didn’t take that left turn onto the “trail”? What if I didn’t keep that first aid kit I made years before? What if we weren’t there to flag down the doctor? What if Aaron never got hurt? What if?
Things happen for a reason. It’s no coincidence that we went riding that day. We weren’t meant to be there on that day. We were meant to be there for the driver. “Everything happens for a reason and a purpose, and it serves you.” (Anthony Robbins)

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