In early February, I engaged in a discussion with a friend who happens to be a medical professional and during the course of discussing weather, degree days and road conditions, he said:
‘Life is capricious.”
The context of the discussion was along the lines of how unpredictable life can be, particularly from a health standpoint, and that control is a fallacy that humans conjure up in an effort to deal with uncertainty and randomness.
My friend went on to say that ‘life throws you curve balls,” and in furtherance of the baseball metaphor, said ‘sometimes they break hard,” meaning: some are worse than others.
Fast forward a week to Northern New England. Mid-winter. Cold. Sunshine (not really). The days had been pretty gray. So gray, in fact, that I had pondered buying one of those full-spectrum light bulbs for my desk lamp. Late in the day the atmosphere seems blue, probably due to some sort of light diffraction, though I have never actually looked it up. The snow crunched under your feet.
Here you are, just one of hundreds of energy business owners or operators in the region, and thus far, winter had been busy. Delivering propane, heating oil, kerosene, diesel, gasoline, and service calls were aplenty. It was a typical mid-winter’s day.
Then, for one marketer, it changed in an instant.
You take a call from the authorities informing you that one of your staff has been involved in a horrible accident. ‘Oh no,” you say under your breath. A sinking feeling washes over you. Your mind races. You would swear your body temperature dropped 10 degrees in a matter of seconds as you feel a chill envelop your entire body. The caller on the other end continues to talk; however, when you hear the word ‘fatality,” you struggle to process the meaning.
On February 19, 2013 at approximately 12:30 p.m., a long-time friend took such a call. A tank wagon driver, a veteran employee with over 35 years experience, was involved.
‘You take that type of call and time stands still,” the marketer told me. ‘The world and your head spin, and the feeling can only be described as ‘helpless.’ What is done is done. You cannot turn back the clock”
The local police had just responded to reports of a truck rollover and an injured man at a convenience store just off the interstate. Involved was a 2,800 gallon tank wagon and a long-time employee.
Statements provided by the driver and by a witness, in addition to review of parking lot surveillance videos, revealed that the man, a local resident, had been standing at the fuel pump island closest to the parked truck as the driver left the store and returned to the truck. The driver checked the passenger side of the truck and walked to the driver’s side door. It was then, at about the same time that the driver entered the cab, and with the man out of view of the driver, that the man reportedly walked to the truck, assumed a prone position on the pavement, and positioned himself between the passenger side front and rear wheels of the tank wagon.
Simultaneously, the driver buckled his seatbelt, checked his mirrors, put the truck in gear, and pulled forward. Seconds later, sensing that the truck had rolled over something, the driver stopped immediately.
Upon arrival, local police found local fire & first responders administering CPR to a man lying in the parking lot. The man, a 51 year old male and local resident, was transported by ambulance to the local medical center, where he was pronounced dead.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the County State’s Attorney were contacted and responded, and a post-mortem examination and toxicology were ordered.
The marketer reported that the cause of death was reviewed by the state’s attorney’s office and determined a suicide.
The Department of Motor Vehicles Commercial Vehicle division also responded, conducted a complete inspection of the truck, and, according to police, found no defects that may have contributed to the fatality.
‘You would like to think that this kind of thing happens to other dealers,” the marketer continued. ‘Nothing really prepares you for this. An event like this swallows you for weeks, and it forever changes the way you look at things.”