Safety’s Always First

I am an old-ass father who loves to skate with his kids. Whether on ice or on the street, I always wear my helmet and my protective gears. Although I don’t do anything crazy, I don’t want to put myself at risk even for minor injuries.

Đán wears his helmet, but he refuses to wear his protective gears when we go ice skating. He banged his knee against the wall real hard. He was in pain for a week. If he had his knee pads on, he could have protected his knees.

One time, we witnessed a woman break her wrist and an ambulance was called to take her to the hospital. She wore a helmet, but if she had her wrist guards on, she might have prevented the injury.

I had seen several adults fall and hit their head on ice, and yet not too many people wore helmets. At the skateparks, I rarely saw any skateboarders wearing helmets. From what I have read, wearing a helmet makes a skateboarder appear weak. I am at the age where that type of pressure doesn’t get to me. I explained to my kids that I rather look weak than the possibility of getting a head injury.

In retrospect, I put my life in danger on several occasions when I was a teenager myself. I hadn’t seen a coffin; therefore, I hadn’t shed a tear.

In high school, I rode with my best friend at the time who was into car racing. Once in a while, I sat next to him in his little red Acura Integra as he was doing 100 to 120 miles per hour on the highway racing against other friends with cars. Neither of us had our seatbelt on. What the fuck was I thinking? My life was in his hands.

A gun incident at a friend’s house still gives me a chill every time I think about it. The friend’s stepfather was a gun enthusiast. He had guns around his house. Another friend picked up a shotgun on the sofa and aimed at my head. They both knew the gun was not loaded. I suspect the gun was not loaded, but I told him it didn’t matter. I looked in his eyes and said that I didn’t want him to pull the trigger. He did anyway. I felt the chill air passing by my head. He thought it was just a joke, but I was dead serious. I didn’t need a friend who put my life in danger so fuck him. I never went back to the friend’s house again.

A boating accident still leaves me devastated even though it happened decades ago. A handful of us rented two canoes at a state park. None of us wore life jackets. Being dumb teenagers, we stood up on the canoe, which caused it to capsize. I could barely swim. Luckily, I was able to grab onto the boat. We flipped it over and climbed back on. We thought everyone was safe until we realized one of us was missing. He was a good friend of mine. We couldn’t find him. He was gone. If we had our life jackets on, he would still be here today.

In the time of the global pandemic, wearing masks could stop the spread of the virus. If wearing a mask could protect each other and save lives, it is not about freedom, but about responsibility. It is an individual freedom to not wear a mask, but it is not a freedom if the individual could affect others. If we had done our part, the death toll could have been less than 500,000 and my mother could have been alive today.

Maybe I am getting old; therefore, I am getting much more cautious. I take precautions over preventable risks any time. I have the responsibilities not just for my family, but also for my community and for my country.