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Posted on Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Dave!The other day I was descending a stairwell at the mall which, I admit, doesn't sound like a very exciting event. At least not at first. I got almost to the bottom, realized that I must have missed the store entrance, and started heading back up.

While I was climbing, I saw a guy with a baby coming down the stairs carrying a bunch of crap. As I moved aside so he'd have room to pass, I saw him stumble as he rounded the corner. Once I realized he was losing his balance I jumped up the steps to grab one of his shopping bags that was going to fall.

But somehow ended up with his baby instead.

I don't know exactly how it happened. As I reached for the bag, I must have saw the baby was slipping and changed my target. The guy still had a half-hold on his kid, but who knows if he would have been able to keep from dropping it down the stairs if I hadn't been there.

After I made sure that the guy had a grip on his kid again, I remarked how surprising it was that the baby didn't make a sound. Not a peep. Didn't cry. Didn't yell. It just had that kind of dazed look that babies get.

And then the young father burst into tears.

Not being a very emotional person myself, these kind of situations are incredibly awkward for me.

I picked up the shopping bag that had fallen, got it back into his fingers, then put my hand on his shoulder and told him that his baby was fine and that everything was okay. I then joked about how much easier it would be if they had more elevators in these crazy places (hoping that next time he might go looking for one before bouncing down the stairs carrying a baby with his hands full like that). He nodded, which was more than thanks enough for me, so I started climbing again.

But slowly, so I could see if he was able to carry on down the stairs after such a nasty scare.

He was, and so I went on about my business and didn't give it much thought...

...until I was driving the two-and-a-half hours back home this afternoon, at which point I found it difficult to think of much else.

What if I hadn't gone back up the stairs? What if I hadn't been paying attention? What if I wasn't fast enough? What if I had opted for a parking spot somewhere else and never ended up in that stairwell in the first place? What if? What if? What if?

I have little doubt that the baby could have been seriously hurt. Perhaps even permanently hurt. Perhaps worse.

If I hadn't been there, the kid's life could have been changed completely. And once I started thinking about that, my mind went racing with all kinds of strange crap. What if the kid grows up to be somebody famous? What if it grows up to cure cancer? What if it grows up to be a homicidal maniac? What if? What if? What if?

Fate is just such a crazy damn thing.

Which is why I'm going to try and not think about it.

And I really hope that poor guy is able to not think about it too. I can't fathom the kind of mental torture going on in his head the rest of that day.

Categories: DaveLife 2011Click To It: Permalink


  1. kristy says:

    It was a good thing. It was.

  2. Kris says:

    You’re such a good egg, Dave. Honestly

  3. Mel says:

    The “what ifs” don’t matter. The only important thing is that you were there at the moment you were needed.

  4. Cap says:

    Fate is a crazy thing … and it’s still a computer game I play occasionally too. Please don’t tell anyone, it would cut my cool factor in half probably.

    That dad probably will think twice now when he goes out with his kid. I believe that nurture > nature, so I’m sure that baby will grow up to be an outstanding citizen. And when he (or she) is President, you’ll know it was only because you saved him (or her) that day 🙂

  5. Alexander says:

    “Always in motion is the future,” and you were there to set it on a good course.

  6. Lisa says:

    That dad is probably telling everyone “you’re not going to believe this!” and maybe he will remember to look for elevators next time. I’m glad you were there to help him, Dave.

  7. Sybil Law says:

    I am sooo glad you were there, though. And I’m sure that dad was, too!!

  8. Karl says:

    It’s a very good thing you were there, regardless.

  9. Vern says:

    Because I’m a curmudgeon: If the kid grows up to be Jeffrey Dahmer or Timothy McVeigh, is that your fault?

    The only way I could believe in fatalistic determinism is if there was compelling evidence that time machines exist. If there’s no evidence that the future (or past) can be changed, belief in fatalism seems like absurd superstition. Besides, if the universe splits at every possible decision point, then there must be an undecillion different universes. Nevertheless this version of me is still trapped in the time-line I’m fated to die in. Unless there’s some kind of device that’ll allow me to consciously escape it.

    Besides, if the boy you saved were fated to fall at that moment, the gods/ fates would have compensated for your intervention.

    Fate and your intervention aside, who’s to say that the father wouldn’t have compensated, forsaking a bag to save his child, as you did. As the father of two preschoolers, I’ve executed a lot of split second reflex maneuvers that’ve prevented my girls’ noggins from splitting. More often than not they aren’t even aware.

    That said, I’m glad you were there. You don’t realize how many kids die and are maimed every day until you’re a news consuming parent.

    • Dave2 says:

      Of course time travel is possible! STEP 1: Close your eyes. STEP 2: Take two steps forward. STEP 3: Open your eyes. w00t! IT’S THE FUTURE! 🙂

  10. Zuke says:

    I’m sorry, I know this is going to sound very “oh, if you only knew how awesome we parents are” (and I HATE comments like that). If that man is any kind of decent parent, then he probably already thinks of the “what if’s” all the time. It keeps my wife and I up at night some times thinking about the kids and all the little circumstances that they will encounter that we can’t control.

    I’m glad you were able to help, though! Nothing worse than a child getting hurt in such a way. Well, ok, there are MUCH worse things . . . but you can’t stop everything! 😉

    If anything, the dad was probably more scared than anyone. In much the same way that people who come down from shock only react emotionally much later, that man’s realization that his child could have very possibly died if not for a random stranger helping him came out later.

  11. Cevin says:

    Nice catch Dave! Way to be in the right place at the right time and acting on it. You have forever changed the world.

  12. Annabelle says:

    Fate and all of the other invisable strings that tie us all together are my favorite things about life on this silly planet.

  13. Howard says:

    I think this is the first time you’ve moved me to tears. P.S. Think that got you a few years out of purgatory.

  14. Ian says:

    Yeah, nice catch.

    I can’t imagine what have must have ran through his head, that moment of panic. I know how heart stopping it can be when I realize I am gonna fall. Adding a baby to that mix….


  15. claire says:

    Wow. Bravo, Dave! I think the thing to focus on if the what if’s keep chasing you down is that you made the best choice/performed the best action that you could in that moment. Who knows what happens beyond that? Not me, though I don’t think it’s written in stone.

  16. Invader_Stu says:

    Scary thought. You’re a hero… like Batman.

  17. Megan says:

    I’m tearing up just thinking about this. Thanks for stepping up and giving the story a happy ending.

  18. the muskrat says:

    I bet it scared the baby something awful to look up at you all of a sudden. He was smiling to be polite.

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