One day, in 1999, I was furious at my computer. On that day I received some of the best programming advice I’ve ever gotten, courtesy of my good friend SamWibatt: “Dude. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.” This advice has stuck with me through the years, tried and true. This week, however, I found a law that trumps it:
Remember What’s Important.
Last Tuesday I kissed my wife blearily awake at 6am as I prepared to start my day programming with my remote team, two time zones ahead and already starting their day at 8am. I asked her if she felt like getting me breakfast and she said sure. She pulled on a sweat top, left on her pajama bottoms, and headed into town to buy breakfast from a drive-through.
An hour later my phone rang. “Mister Brady? This is Officer Powell with the Lehi City Police Department. Your wife’s been in a serious accident. She’s okay but she may have hurt her arm. Her car is totaled and we’re going to have to tow it.”
I reacted about how you might think. “Is she okay?” “She’s conscious and alert, and seems okay except for her arm. Paramedics are looking at her right now. But we’re going to have to tow your car.”
“Oh, okay, so I need to come get her?”
“No, the paramedics are going to take her to the hospital, so–”
“Wait, so is she okay?”
Officer Powell had the wisdom to realize that I was going into shock and had started looping. He also knew just how to calm me down. “Here, let me put her on the phone.”
“Hi sweetie,” she said. “I think I broke my arm.”
I guess I *was* still in shock. “But… you’re okay?”
“Yeah. My arm hurts.”
I got back on with Officer Powell. “Do I need to come down there?” “Yes, I think we have your dog*.”
And that began the worst day I’ve had in 16 years of marriage to the finest woman I have ever met.
I’ll spare you the minute-by-minute details, but the short answer is that Liz was driving very sleepy. She was traveling on a highway at 50MPH, saw the light turn red, did not react in time, and barrelled into cross traffic at very nearly full speed. She was traveling westbound, and hit the engine compartment of a northbound vehicle. The airbag went off and saved her life. She knocked that car 45 degrees to the left and sent them sailing through oncoming traffic, miraculously reaching the far corner unscathed and coming to a stop at the street pole. The impact had spun her 90 degrees to the right, straight into oncoming traffic, and she collided head-on with a southbound vehicle entering the intersection. The now deflated airbag was of little use and she shattered her forearm against the steering wheel.
All four other victims were uninjured. Our car was totaled and uninsured for collision damage (it was a 2002 Toyota Corolla, not worth covering) but we had full comprehensive insurance which meant Liz’s medical care would be covered. Our State Farm (they are awesome) insurance agent, Sarah Williams (who is even more awesome), notified the other parties that there would be no disputation of fault, that their medical and auto repair bills would be covered, and that they would help the other drivers with anything should their insurance not be cooperative. Because there was no disputation of fault, the case officer, Officer Bateman, did not write Liz a ticket since in his judgment everything was settled fault-wise and given his assessment of injuries, karma had done the justice system’s job. I had a chance to talk with him at length later in the process, and I have to say that he’s the kind of policeman that gives cops everywhere a good name.
50MPH collision followed by a head-on? One broken arm and nobody else hurt? One lost junker car? We are nothing but grateful.
I took most of last week off work to be a full-time stay-at-home husband and nursemaid. Church members organized a relief party to bring us dinner each night to take at least that piece of stress off of us. Liz had surgery on Friday and now has a 6″ or 7″ titanium plate bolted to her ulna to hold it together while it heals. It’s a permanent plate; they won’t take it back out unless Liz has trouble with it causing pain years down the line.
It’s been a week. Anxiety is now my constant companion. But I can live with that Liz is fine and recovering quickly. I am nothing but grateful.
Sorry if this seems like a no-code kind of post, but it IS related. Remember what’s important. All this programming crap is just numbers and logic and blinky lights on a computer. Narrowly avoiding the loss of your soulmate sort of puts all those project deadlines and looming schedules and tricky technical debt problems so far onto the back burner that I actually heard them fall down behind the stove.
Which is where they belong.
* P.S. For you animal lovers, yes this is important too: Bella is fine. 🙂 She was super freaked-out and excited for a few days but she was laying on the back seat, so all she did was hit the backs of the front seats and then the floor. She was shaken up, but not even tender when examined.