My Story – Chapter Four

The tree

Most of you get funding for your business from a bank, family, friends, or savings, but not me. I got it from “above”

One day I was driving to Walden pond for a swim after playing flute at Alewife station for five hours. I was exhausted but I made $150 that morning, so I needed to relax after that. Half way to the pond driving through a beautiful neighborhood in Weston, MA, all of the sudden I see all green in front of me. What happened, I thought? Did I fall asleep and I am about to hit a tree? Well, half a second later – boom!!! Sharp pain in my neck and head, blood and glass all over me and the car. From the inside I couldn’t see the tree, just the branches and leaves on all sides, windows broken, and the doors clamped by the roof which sunk a foot or more. I couldn’t sit straight. I tried to kick the door, but nothing. I kicked harder… nothing. Should I call for help? There is nobody around. A lady comes a minute later peaking through a window. Area you OK? No, I replied (obviously, I thought). Can you bring me a pillow or something? I am suspended over the passenger seat, cannot sit straight, and my neck really hurts. I don’t remember if she said anything after that, but she left and never came back. I thought maybe she didn’t want to get her pillow bloody, but maybe she went to call 911 and she forgot.

So, what happened was the tree fell on the roof of my car from the side of the road. What are the odds???

It wasn’t long before a fire truck showed up. More vehicles followed. They came to me and tried to figure out how to get me out. The car was compressed and there was no way out. Hang in there, they said. We have to remove the tree. At the time I had no idea how big the tree was, but the article said 20 tons. That’s heavy. They came back with chain saws and I felt and heard a lot of noise and activity on the roof. I was praying that the roof with the tree doesn’t collapse on me. The sawing and other noises went on for a while. It seemed forever, but maybe it was 20 minutes or so. Very long 20 minutes! Finally, they pulled the tree off, they pulled the door, and they got me out. We got to the hospital reasonably fast, maybe another 20 minutes or so. They got me a surgeon, he asked a few questions, sent me for x-ray and scheduled surgery for the next morning. Everything went fine I guess. Before or after the surgery, can’t remember, some guy stitched my cut on the head really lousy, and it still looks ugly. I couldn’t move after the surgery, and I was still dirty, bloody and my skin was full of broken glass. I kept asking the nurses, could someone take the glass out of my skin? A few nurses were coming in and out, and neither of them seemed to think she should do it. Indeed, nobody wanted to take the glass out. They just left me there like that. However, they came with all kinds of other “services” as I found out from the bill of $55,000 later. I should post the bill here. It was three pages for what they did in 36 hours. All kinds of people came in, and sure enough a billing person came and asked if I had insurance. I said no. I didn’t have a job at the time. I had just came from China, after I had been kicked out of home by the family court. No, you don’t have to be guilty of anything. The mother can say anything, and it will be taken as fact, but that’s another story. So, I had no insurance and they didn’t look happy. I felt that they wanted to get rid of me as soon as possible, and that’s exactly what happened. I couldn’t even stand up, but they managed to get me out of bed and out the door. I can’t remember who took me to my friend’s home. It took a week or two before I could function. I don’t know how I managed to go to the bathroom or eat. My friend helped of course, but it hurt.

Now, the car was towed somewhere and I was charged $35 per day I think. Of course I had no idea, nor was that on my mind after the accident. I am an immigrant and my family was in Europe. My ex wouldn’t let the kids see me, she said it wasn’t good for them to see me like that. I only had a neck brace, but hey, any excuse is fine just to keep the kids away from me. Bills piled up. I asked the State for assistance, but I didn’t get a penny. Yes, not a penny. At some point later, when I was already walking, I got food stamps, $195 per month. My parents sent me money to tow the car to the junk yard and pay the storage fee which was at that point more than what I paid for the car, which as $700. Those were tough times already, and now I had a tree fall on me to push me further into the ground. Thank you God!

Actually, the divine intervention was of a different nature. My friend knew an injury attorney. He actually showed up the next day and I signed a contract with him. He was to take care of all the expenses, and if we won, he would keep 33%. Sounded like a deal, and it was. After two years of the lengthy process of negotiations with home insurance company of the property where the tree was, we won a million! I got to keep $666,666. I had some debts, and I had to borrow with the possible compensation as a collateral, which had very high interest rate, like 100%, just to get by for two years before I got paid. So anyway, I was like a half millionaire and I spent a lot relaxing in Thailand, getting many massages to recover my neck and right arm, and I also ordered many flutes which I was going to sell and rent later. I got tools and materials that I always wanted. I also spent unreasonably, and I can’t forgive myself for that. I bought a Jaguar XJ. I didn’t do my research, and I thought it was still a top quality sports & luxury British car. To my disappointment, it had engine trouble which cost $9000, and I found out that Indian Tata company had bought Jaguar, and that the engine that died on me was Ford! But, I spent two weeks in Maldives, the nicest place on Earth that I’ve been to, and we went to a few other tropical paradise places.

This chapter is getting longer than I wanted it, so I will cut it short. The point is that thanks to the tree, I now have an opportunity to build my own flute business. It is taking much longer than I wanted, and I have to work on the flutes a lot to bring them up to my high standards, but I will get there. The problem is that I come from high end flutemaking, and when I work on a student or intermediate flute, I don’t apply a lower standard. I try to think of ways to bring them as close as possible to handmade standard.

More chapters to follow, not necessarily in chronological order

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