Living Columns & Blogs

Behind the drama of the Thai soccer team’s rescue is a compelling story of hope, courage

This undated photo from video released via the Thai NavySEAL Facebook Page on Wednesday, July 11, 2018, shows rescuers hold an evacuated boy inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. A daring rescue mission in the treacherous confines of a flooded cave in northern Thailand has saved all 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped deep within the labyrinth, ending a grueling 18-day ordeal that claimed the life of an experienced volunteer diver and riveted people around the world. (Thai NavySEAL Facebook Page via AP)
This undated photo from video released via the Thai NavySEAL Facebook Page on Wednesday, July 11, 2018, shows rescuers hold an evacuated boy inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. A daring rescue mission in the treacherous confines of a flooded cave in northern Thailand has saved all 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped deep within the labyrinth, ending a grueling 18-day ordeal that claimed the life of an experienced volunteer diver and riveted people around the world. (Thai NavySEAL Facebook Page via AP)

There’s a best-selling book to be written by someone about the nightmarish experience of 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped and eventually rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand.

For almost three weeks, the world strained for every detail of the life-or-death drama being played out in the cold, dank and dark flooded prison. In more languages than we realize, prayers were lifted up for the safe return of the youngsters and their coach.

As the boys emerged from the cave over a matter of days, I wondered by what means the rescuers decided which boys would be given priority in the order of exit from their ordeal. One of the rescuers died.

Also, what will their coach’s life be like in the future? Will he be seen as hero, or will he be blamed for leading his charges into such a hazardous would-be adventure that turned out to be a life-changing experience?

Such a book might address how the coach and the boys themselves stoked the fires of hope of eventual rescue and how they kept from breaking up mentally under such prolonged mental torture and physical discomfort.

Such heart-rending dramas as this one and the one on our Mexican border, where innocent babies have been snatched from their mothers’ arms and locked in cages or scattered to foster homes across the country, are alarming.

Amid our seemingly endless national chaos, Shakespeare’s words come to mind:

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.”

Hazardous duty

On St. Mary’s Street, not far from Broughton High School, I passed a driver’s education car containing three or four students and a taut-faced adult whose eyes were focused on the young driver beside him.

Drivers’ Ed instructors are among our unsung heroes, an unheralded breed who almost daily risk their lives as they ride shotgun with teenagers at the controls of what could at any moment become a deadly weapon.

Ah, the stories they could tell: The near misses, the sudden braking jolts, the swerve toward the trees or adjacent residences or roadside ditches.

Ben Day, one of my readers, recently shared details of one experience during the time he was teaching Driver’s Ed in Carteret County .

“There were three elderly women in the car with me, an 80-year-old at the wheel,” he recalls. “ We all braced ourselves as she started to brake. Anyway, her foot slipped off the brake pedal and floored the accelerator!

“Thank the Lord there was no traffic! The Ford V8 jumped into passing gear, hit the railroad track and went airborne as I was fruitlessly trying to hit the brake. I finally did, and we came to a stop in a parking space, perfectly aligned directly in front of a barbershop.

“I looked ahead and saw the barber with a straight razor in his hand, his mouth and eyes wide open. A very frightened customer sat in the chair with our car only twenty feet away and head on!

“This was my last driving instruction class! I immediately drove the ladies home!”

Attention: City Hall

I was walking up the driveway to check the mail at the same time the trash collector was making his call.

The long, mechanical arm extended from the vehicle, picked up the trash receptacle from the lawn and deftly emptied it into the truck.

Instead of returning the empty container to the lawn, the driver moved up to the driveway and deftly set the container down, right at my feet.

“Shazzam!” I thought to myself. “Talk about great public relations!”

I waved a hearty “Thank you!” as he moved on.

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