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The Scariest Thing I’ve Ever Done
I f you were a kid who rode the bus to school, the idea of going home and telling your parents you missed your ride was terrifying. The fear of missing the bus is a pretty universal childhood experience. Fortunately for me, I never missed the bus to school. However, there was one time when my brother and I missed the train. My family lived in Japan for a while when I was young, and my brother and I had to get ourselves to school each day by catching the train. One day, we missed our train, and my brother and I knew that if we went home and told our dad, we’d be in more trouble than we could ever imagine. Instead, my brother came up with a great idea: We’d run to the next town and catch the train there. The problem was the only way to get to the next town was to run along the railroad tracks. Very quickly, I realized this was the worst idea my brother ever had. It was a beautiful day, and the sun was shining on the snow- capped Mt. Fuji, but I couldn’t enjoy it. I was certain I was about to get smashed by the train coming up behind us. It was pretty clear to me that my short legs couldn’t carry me faster than a speeding train. I could feel the tracks shaking and hear the train growing louder and louder. It was the scariest moment of my life. Eventually, we had no choice but to jump off the railroad tracks as the train sped past. There was no way we were getting to the next town in time, but we were just relieved to still be alive. I don’t remember how we got to school that day, but we ended up getting there eventually. Needless to say, my brother and I made a point to never miss the train again. Running on those railroad tracks is still the scariest thing I’ve ever done. As far as childhood memories go, I could do without
“I could feel the tracks shaking and hear the train growing louder and louder.”
that one, though it’s a pretty funny story today. I don’t know why my brother and I thought telling Dad we missed the train would be worse than possibly getting hit by a train, but that’s kid logic for you. Even as adults, the fates we imagine for ourselves tend to be far worse than reality, and we can get ourselves into bigger trouble trying to avoid our exaggerated fears. Being a lawyer means being in the business of helping people face their fears. Clients with a personal injury case have a lot to worry about. They’re hurt, overwhelmed with medical bills, and in a fight with the insurance company to get the compensation they deserve. It can be a waking nightmare. Then there are my bankruptcy clients, burdened with debt and terrified that their financial future is ruined. Having someone who can guide you through a scary situation can make a huge difference. I’m proud that I can help alleviate these fears for my clients so they can feel as relieved as I did when I finally jumped off those train tracks.
–Walter E. “Pete” Moak
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