Scoot: After the hit and run

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Life can change in an instant as mine did last Thursday night. The outpouring of support, prayers and concern from you - listeners, as well as total strangers, sheds a positive light on a horrific personal event. And for that - the words “thank you” do not reflect the sense of value I feel as a person.

Last Thursday night, I followed my weekly routine of going to 80s night at One-Eyed Jack’s in the French Quarter. That revelation will lead some to instantly criticize the idea of even going to a dance night in the French Quarter, but this is something I have been doing almost every week for years. It’s fun; and I have made a few friends among some of the regulars, who have made this night part of their weekly routine. In a way - 80s night has become my “Cheers” - that place you feel comfortable, because you share something in common.

The 80s night is a night that appeals to many service industry people and does not start until 10:00 pm and is never crowded before 11:00 pm. I offer these details, because of the time I was hit at the corner of Bourbon and Canal. I don’t usually arrive until 11:30pm,and I left at 1:30am. A late night for me, but I plan on that every Thursday. I was walking home like I do every week.

For those of you, who cannot relate to this as a weekly routine, I realize that being hit by a speeding motorcycle at 1:42am at the corner of Bourbon and Canal sounds like a dangerous lifestyle destined to invite trouble. But for someone who lives downtown and considers the French Quarter to be part of the neighborhood, this was not a situation with predictable danger. I’ve done it so many times. Thursday nights on Bourbon Street are very crowded with tourists, convention-goers and locals, and before 2:00am there is no more a sense of danger than there is a 7:00pm.

During my 2 hours of having a blast at 80s night, I consumed about 2 1/2 glasses of wine (and they weren’t large glasses), and I turned down 2 different people who insisted that I do a shot with them, because they wanted to do a “shot with Scoot.” As complimented as I am when that happens - I politely decline, because I don’t do shots anymore! There was a time when I did a few shots, however!

So here is the truthful scenario that reflects the reality of my night. After spending 2 hours in my happy place at 80s night and enjoying 2 1/2 glasses of wine, which over a 2-hour period does not lead to intoxication, I was walking home a sober person. Two blocks from my apartment building I was crossing the intersection of Bourbon and Canal, when a speeding motorcycle hit my left side. I recall actually feeling the impact, but I did not feel the pain because I was rendered unconscious. I remember regaining consciousness on the opposite side of the intersection and in the middle where the streetcars roll.

Blood was dripping from my forehead, and I remember trying to stand up but being stopped by a pain in my ankle. Immediately, people gathered around me; and I could hear them talking to others who arrived saying, “This guy was just hit by a motorcycle going 45.” A few of the people were talking to me; and I said, “I just live 2 blocks away, help me get up and I’ll be okay.” Obviously, they knew more about the severity of my injuries than I did because they called 911 and insisted that I was not going anywhere.

EMS arrived, and I do remember the painful process of getting in the ambulance and then the unthinkable! I was wearing clothes I really liked and the words from the EMS worker, “We’re going to cut off your clothes” came through my groggy brain loud and clear. Cut off my clothes? At that point, they began to administer something for pain; and there I lie, helpless as I watched the cold, stainless steel scissors slice through some of my favorite clothes.

Following what seemed like an endless series of X-rays and CAT scans, though I was in serious pain, I began to think about how unbelievable this incident was at this point in my life. I have been busy with the radio show, videos, writing blogs and had something planned almost every day from now until Mardi Gras Day. So why did this happen? Why was my life totally interrupted? I had questions - but no answers.

Over the past week, I have spent time searching for a meaning in this freak accident. I was born in New Orleans and raised here and I have spent many years on the air as part of this market. It is amazing to me how many people come up to me or call into the show and say, “I have been listening to you since I was a kid!” For the guy who wanted to get into radio, but was so bad and inexperienced that management put me on FM in the morningbecause literally no one was listening to FM in the morning at that time. Hearing people talk about listening and following me for so many years is a feeling of achievement that is difficult to put into written words. To say I am honored may be the best way to describe it.

I knew I had a great following in New Orleans and throughout the Gulf South; but the concern expressed from listeners, political figures, management of top artists in New York and L.A. and even strangers has been amazing.

So far, this painful event has taught me a few important life lessons.

  1. Do not take even life’s simplest things for granted. I walked everywhere, because I enjoy walking and because I am healthy enough to walk; but I will not be able to walk for weeks - maybe a couple of months. But I know that I will walk again; and before I allow myself to get down about what I am going through, I think of those who will never walk again and those who were never able to walk.
  2.  I have learned that you can never be too cautious and it shouldn’t take extreme events to make us understand that. I walked around any time, until I was jumped a few years ago walking to the radio station at 4:00 am. I now realize that just because I have been going to 80s night every week and successfully walking home does not mean there are not inherit risks. I do not drive my car very often. Those of you who drive more stand a better chance of getting into an accident. I walk more than most people and the chances of something happening to me walking are greater than those who don’t walk as much. I no longer feel as free to walk as much as I have been walking.
  3. I have learned that life is random and life is precious, and we should all be more careful when we drive, walk or do anything.
  4. I have taken another step toward feeling less safe living in downtown New Orleans. I hate that I express this honesty. I have been a big defender of living downtown, and I realize that the few things that have happened to me are unfortunate incidents, but what I also see is an overall criminal mentality that is now part of living and playing in downtown New Orleans. What happened to me is part of a criminal mentality of people believing they can do whatever they want and take whatever they want. This is not a police problem - this is a problem with society and I do not see the root of the problem being addressed. While I am in pain at home, I hear the news that blocks from where I live 5 innocent people were shot. I realized there is a pending investigation as to what happened and who is responsible, but the fact that it happened and that it is not an isolated event is significant.
  5. I have been asked if I forgive the person who hit me. I am a Christian, but the practice of forgiving is a difficult challenge for many Christians. My thinking hasn’t gone that far. I am only thinking about how the person who hit me and sped off should be held accountable for his actions. Why was he so quick to speed off? We all know there can be many reasons for the instinct to flee. A person who would do this could be the person who is capable of doing many other violent things, and that should not be allowed in a civilized society.
  6. And on a positive note - many of the people who totally disagree with my politics and even get personal in their attacks over my opinions, showed that even in the harshest political disputes, there can be humanity. I especially appreciate the concern for me expressed by those who are my political enemies.

As confident as I have felt at this point in my career, it has been the concern expressed from listeners, friends, co-workers, family and even strangers that has caused me to feel a great sense of value in the world. As confident as we all are - isn’t it the reaction others have toward us that validates who we are and what we contribute?

I would never have wanted this to happen to learn these lessons in life, but I am happy for the important gifts that I have been blessed with.

I share the details of my experience - not from a self-centered perspective - but as a way to use my platform and what happened to me to cast light on the simplest things we come to expect. Living life as if nothing is expected may be the best way to live.