Schlueterville July filled with heroes, villains

It's been a seesaw month in Schlueterville, filled with enough pendulum swings to knock you out cold. It began fresh from celebrating the nuptials of our oldest son, Rocket, and his lovely bride, Trooper. Hunka Burnin' Hubby and I were still boxing up the remnants of a big, lovely party when a phone call delivered shocking news.

"I just drove up on a single-car accident," said our youngest son, Magnet. "I'm OK, but it was an ugly scene."

Hunka took the call, which was a blessing. Had it been me, I'd have melted into sniveling mom-goo right on the spot. Magnet had quite a story to tell. He was headed to Omaha on a nothing special day to search for housing before his grad school classes begin at the University of Nebraska Medical Center this fall.

It's always the nothing special days that kick you in the pants.

"The driver was thrown at least 30-yards from his car," Magnet explained. "I performed CPR on him until help arrived."

I suddenly remembered the 4-year old super hero who accompanied me to the grocery store. He wore a cape from an old Halloween costume, and shark-hologram swim goggles with rubber straps that waved on either side of his face. With arms akimbo, he'd search the aisles for bad guys.

We like to think of ourselves as made of heroic stuff, running to the aid of our fellow man without a second thought. Few of us are actually put to the test. Magnet proved something to himself and the world in a Nebraska road ditch that day.

As an athletic trainer who's tended numerous Husker teams, Magnet is trained for emergency situations. But knowledge is one thing. Jumping into action for a complete stranger is something else entirely. That takes a mountain of character and a huge heart.

A State Trooper came and assisted Magnet with compressions, but the damage was too great. "We never found a pulse," said Magnet. "But we tried just the same."

The driver's family cried very hard that day. Our family did, too, but for other reasons entirely. Had Magnet been a few seconds further down the road, the call we received might have been a different one indeed. Instead he grew larger in character than most of us will ever hope to achieve.

And Schlueterville gained a bona fide hero.

But the pendulum swung wildly just last weekend, delivering a different kind of news. Thieves helped themselves to thousands of dollars worth of Hunka's construction scaffolding; dragging heavy equipment over a storage facility fence, down a 15-foot embankment, and across several railroad tracks.

People that strong should be capable of greater things.

Instead they took 20-foot aluminum planks my family used to pay for braces, bikes, cars, and college tuition; Halloween costumes, super hero swim goggles, and carts full of groceries. I have fond memories of father and sons standing shoulder-to-shoulder on those things, too, employing the value of integrity and hard work.

"Your planks will probably be cut up and sold for scrap," the police officer said. "Meth addicts will do anything for drug money."

What a staggering waste of both equipment and human potential.

Every day we get to be heroes or villains; choosing to either help our fellow man or knock him to the ground. I've heard people say actions don't matter as long as nobody gets hurt. That's a giant load of bunk. Everyone's actions affect us all for better or worse. They have a way of revisiting us, too, so thieving hearts had best beware.

Let's choose to have a heroic week, my friends, and build the world up instead of ripping it down.

Oh, and a thousand times please, wear your seat belts.

Tamera Schlueter

Tam Schlueter adopts a "strike-fast-and-keep-them-laughing" approach to writing. Her column appears every Thursday in the Hastings Tribune, and showcases the wonder of family, dogs, muscle cars, and folks with blue collars and no-nonsense attitudes.

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