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Don't Underestimate Your Survival Instincts

Story ID:9319
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Caldwell Idaho USA
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It was a normal visit to my brother's home in Terence Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada.
He, his wife Delores and their infant son Robert made for pleasant company on a warm
Sunday in early fall.

After a good meal, my first wife, Georgia, and I secured our two young children
into their car seats. Our son was only ten months old. Our daughter was three years old.

We waved to my brother and his family.

The sun set; its pink light faded in the western sky. Darkness gathered in the
east. We drove along the winding coastal road. We were content. Our stomachs were
full with good food and our minds with the satisfaction of a great family gathering.

In front of use, I saw four headlights approaching. There were two cars on a turn.
It took me second to realize one was passing the other. It was headed straight at

I may have screamed. I'm not sure. Everything was a blur.

The cars approached at a fast pace. I hit my brakes, realized I was about to
hit head on with the passing car, let off my brakes off and steered to the right.

We coasted to a stop. My right tires crunched on the gravel on the shoulder of the
road. The two cars were gone. Sweat rolled down my forehead. I look at Georgia's
white face. "You OK?"

All she could manage was a weak, "Yes."

"I'm going to find them! One was a red car …wasn't it?"

"I'm pretty sure." she whispered.

I turned our car around and headed in the direction we came.

A couple miles back, we came to an intersection. Two cars were parked at the
side of the road.
One was red.

I pulled up behind them, got out and walked up to two young men talking.

"Hi!" They looked at each other nervously.

"I was almost hit by a red car passing another on a turn."

The older of the two said, "Me too. He sideswiped my car." His black car was
damaged on the driver's side.


"Yeah! I thought I was going to die."

"I kept a distance from them.
"The car that almost hit me was red." I pointed to the second car. "That car is
red." I walked to it, looked at its passenger side and saw the damage. "I've seen enough,
gentlemen. My wife has your plate numbers. We'll be reporting you."

"Come on! No one was hurt."

"You could have killed my family."

Later, I learned I did exactly the right thing. I watched a show about driving.
It said, if you hit the brakes, then release them and turn, all the car's weight is on the
front wheels and you have perfect traction..

Fifteen years later, in my late thirties, I was a pitcher on a men's slow
pitch, softball team.

I stood on the mound that cold and damp October day. A new batter approached
the plate. He stood six foot two inches and weighed at least two hundred and seventy
pounds – most of it muscle.

My first pitch went wide to the outside. The umpire called, "Ball!"

I used my signature knuckle ball on the next pitch.

The batter, knowing my style, was waiting for it. He swung, made a perfect
connection and sent the ball flying directly at my head.

It happened fast.

I remember the ball growing bigger in my vision. I stood in fright. My last
view of the ball blocked everything from my view. It was inches from my face when
instinct took over. I ducked my head and my gloved hand shot up caught it.

My teammates cheered.

My hands shook.

I tried to pitch to the next batter. I couldn't. I shook all over.

I waved to my co-pitcher and let him finish the inning.

I was amazed at how fast I could react in a life-and-death situation: the car –
death, the ball hitting me in the face – death.

Don't underestimate survival instincts. Our bodies will react to keep us alive.

Michael T. Smith