The Lives We Touch
We Forget How Profound and Lasting of an Effect We’ve Had on Others
In 2007, I helped my girlfriend’s best friend’s fiancee get a job with the company I worked for. I considered this person a friend at the time — but it was kind of by default. It was an inherited friendship, as I was going to be seeing a fair amount of this person whether I liked it or not, considering how close our significant others were.
But eventually, we did become legitimate friends. He truly appreciated me getting him the job and working together brought us closer as well.
I left the company in January of 2008, as I had a falling out with the owners and we mutually parted ways. My friend however stayed and was working his way up in the company after my departure.
My girlfriend and I officially broke up in April of 2008, a few months after I left the job. However, we were still seeing each other randomly and I still stayed in touch with the guys I had worked with — the friend I had gotten the job for included and his girlfriend as well.
In August of that year, I received one of the worst phone calls I ever have — and there’s been some really bad ones in my day.
It was my friend’s girlfriend — who I’ll call Sue since that’s her name and I don’t care about her privacy. Sue was crying hysterically on the other end of the phone, to the point I could hardly make out what she was saying.
I eventually gathered, her boyfriend who I’ll call Tim, was electrocuted on a job and rushed to Temple Hospital’s Intensive Care/Burn Unit.
She kept saying he was going to die. She had no ride to the hospital and I didn’t drive. Neither one of us could get a hold of my ex girlfriend, presumably because she slept at some dude’s house the night before.
Me being the person I am, I put that aside and got Sue and I a ride to the hospital. Tim was in beyond bad shape when we got there, doctors weren’t positive he’d make it.
When I say he got electrocuted, I mean he had extremely high voltage run through his entire body. Literally entered through his foot and exited through his skull and he has the wounds, missing toe and permanent bald spot to prove it.
Tim was on a power washing job, he was the guy on the ground, while another employee was up high in a lift, power washing the side of a building. The lift was near electrical lines and in this particular township — they ran the electric underground. The employee in the lift hit the wrong button, accidentally swinging the lift directly into power lines.
Tim down below, happened to be standing in a puddle — and electricity was sent jolting through his entire body.
Though I was obviously in no way, shape or form responsible for what happened to Tim — for weeks after and still sometimes when I see him to this very day — I couldn’t help but think it never would’ve happened had I not gotten him the job.
Obviously, this was never brought up by anyone, including myself. Not to go pointing fingers but if anyone was responsible for what happened to Tim, it was the employee who was in the lift who sent it swinging into power lines.
I never felt guilty about what happened to Tim, because I had no reason to. I felt terrible for what happened to him and couldn’t help but acknowledge it wouldn’t have happened had I not gotten him the job — but more so just in an observational kind of way rather than a regretful or guilty one.
In the end, Tim made out okay. He sued everyone involved, from the lift company, the the electric company, to my old company. After years of litigation and pain management, all in all he walked away with a six figure settlement.
He and Sue broke up well before this, he got married to a wonderful woman and he used part of the settlement money to buy them their first house and a nice car for each of them. I was honored when he asked me to be in the wedding. He’s doing okay today but still lives with an immense amount of pain in different parts of his body, that’ll never go away. A pain I can’t help but acknowledge, he’d have never known, had we never met.
Life is funny, in the darkest and most tragic way possible. It’s funny in an Alanis Morissette “Ironic” kind of way.
It is my belief we’re all deeply connected and are largely oblivious to just how profound of an effect we have on each other’s lives. Something you said to someone years ago, might’ve made a life changing impact on them.
In fact, I can say with some level of certainty, I had an everlasting impact on just about everyone I mentioned in this story — from my ex girlfriend, to her best friend, to Tim and to everyone at my old company.
Whether it was good bad or indifferent, well that depends on who you ask and when I guess. I’m far from perfect and have my fair share of regrets but regardless, there’s not a lot of people who’s lives weren’t better off for having known me. Sure, that sounds pretty egotistical but what I mean is I always try to do more good than harm. For the positives to outweigh the negatives.
That’s why I believe doing what’s right and living with empathy and compassion is so important — because I’m aware of the impact I have on the people around me — and I want that impact to be a positive one so that maybe they’ll go have that same effect on someone else’s life.