Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lightning

North Carolina resident Bob Edwards was just finishing his dinner at the Steele Creek Café when a storm rolled in. After paying his check, he began walking across the parking lot toward his truck when he experienced “a tremendous purple flash and it felt like somebody hit me in the chest with a hammer.”  When he regained consciousness, he was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was treated for lightning related injuries. He claims that he continues to have ringing in his ears, blurry vision, and a constant metallic taste in his mouth.
Lightning Bob
While lightning strikes are rare, they are certainly not unheard of. What makes Bob’s case so unusual is that he struck by lightning on the very same street in 1997. His injuries were so severe that he had to be revived three different times. As if that was not bad enough, he was also struck by lightning in 2009 while visiting South Carolina.

According to Mr. Edwards, the psychological trauma of the encounters has been far more devastating than the physical effects. His post-traumatic stress syndrome has cost him his job, friends, and even his family. So far his doctors have been unable to explain this statistical anomaly, acknowledging that the probability of Edward’s trifecta is astronomically small. 

I really feel terrible for this guy and I don’t doubt the severity of his psychological anguish. I know that if I had been struck by lightning on three separate occasions I would probably wet myself every time I saw a Doppler radar image. You couldn’t even listen to country radio stations because you never know when they might sneak “The Thunder Rolls” into a Garth Brooks Power Hour.

It is upsetting that this cost him his family, and while I am not defending his wife’s decision I understand that it must be exhausting making sure everyone always turns off the flash on their cameras so Bob doesn’t wind up in the fetal position under a Mazda.   

The loss of his friends could be due to a number of factors. True friends will remain by your side through divorce, sickness, legal problems, and career adversity but in this particular case it might be dangerous to stand too close to Bob. I can guarantee you he was the last to know when they change tee times at the golf course.  With his track record, you almost can’t blame his buddies for forgetting to invite them to hang out at their new house or hold their infant. I have sympathy for the guy, but given his propensity for electrical discharge I am not sure I want a seat next to him on an international flight.

I do wonder how it cost him his job. The article did not specify whether he was let go for safety concerns or was just tired of all the guys on second shift calling him “Lucky.” Either way, I can’t remember if it is illegal to discriminate based on meteorological predisposition. I bet the human resources officer had to tread carefully during that conversation:

“Mr. Edwards, while you have been a valuable employee here at The Discount Acetylene, Napalm, and Gas Fumes Warehouse; we just can’t take the chance of you having another “electron displacement incident.” In addition to the obvious implications for employee safety, it is really wreaking havoc on the TV reception in the break room and every time you hug someone their debit card stops working.”

The article I read also did not address his religious beliefs. Personally, I would not be shocked if he decided atheism was the best route. In the Old Testament Bob’s experience would have been documented as an “attempted smitting.” Even if he wished to accept Christianity, I am not sure I would recommend a full-immersion Baptism because even a sprinkling may be tempting fate.

All I can say is that if this guy goes back to eat at this same restaurant after being struck twice on that road, I may have to make a trip to North Carolina to see what this food tastes like. The poor guy is stone deaf and feels like he is sucking on pennies 24 hours a day but that won’t stop him from taking advantage of the blue plate special.

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