Life Changes in the Blink of An Eye

This post is not for the faint of heart. Last night I witnessed a single moment in time that changed several lives, and not for the better.

My wife and I had left the house to run a few errands and pick up a fast food dinner for ourselves and two of our boys. On a mid-December evening the sun had already set about a half hour earlier. It was past dusk and leaning into darkness. I was driving, and my car, that likely is smarter than I am, had automatically chosen to illuminate the headlights. I turned onto to the busy road into the center of town. It was rush hour and commuters were rushing on their way home.

About a mile later,  I was getting into where the middle of town starts. It was a five lane road lined, as these roads in the suburbs often are, by car dealerships. About 50 yards ahead I saw a darkly dressed figure quickly cross a lane, briskly stepping between two cars, as if he was playing a real life version of the old Frogger video game. Just as he stepped from the busy traffic lane into the empty middle lane he was clipped by the car two vehicles ahead of me and his body was briefly and tragically airborne before quickly succumbing to gravity. I was in disbelief. I wasn’t sure I had seen what I had just seen. Actually I knew what I had just seen but I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want it to be true.

The car that hit the pedestrian and the one behind it seemed to continue ahead. What looked like a long pile of dark clothes laid out in the middle lane, and  looked too impossibly still and too small to be a person. But as I got close, I knew it was. I stopped my car, hit the blinkers and my wife called 911. I was the first person to the man on the ground. He was an older man with white hair. He was still. Very still. His eyes were closed. I leaned down and put my hand on his shoulder and said, “Stay with us buddy.” A woman from another car ran up and informed me that she was a nurse. She asked and I told her that my wife was calling for emergency assistance. She checked the man’s pulse on his neck and informed me that he still had a pulse. There was a swelling bruise and bleeding near his temple. He remained unresponsive as we both just knelt near him. I kept my hand on his shoulder and again asked him to stay with us. I checked his pulse on his wrist myself. I know it wasn’t necessary, but I just wanted to know that he was still alive and there was hope. A cold winter wind whipped around us as we waited helplessly.

A man ran up with a large bag and informed us that he was a fireman. He took charge of the medical intervention. A young man wearing a coat with the logo of a nearby business ran up. He asked if the man was ok. He said he didn’t see him. He only heard a thump on his car. As we waited for emergency responders, the young man became more distraught. The fireman moved the unconscious mans head to the side a little and a large crimson puddle began to form and spread. Although it was maybe only 5-10 minutes before emergency responders arrived, it seem interminable. I’ve never been present when anyone died and I didn’t want to be there to watch this man’s life ebb away. With the police and paramedics taking over the scene, my wife and I returned to our car and drove off to complete our errands and get dinner.

Although we left to continue on with our ordinary errands, we were both shook up. Our first stop was to a craft store so my wife could pick up some “stuff” for cake decorating. As we got to the register to check out, our cashier, hearing the police sirens, held up his hands and joked, “Hey, it wasn’t me. I was here the whole time!” We informed him that the sirens were due to a pedestrian struck accident in front of one of the car dealerships. His joking smile immediately went flat. He said, “Which car dealer? My dad works over there.” We told him. It had occurred in front of the place his father worked. He finished checking us out and went to the next customer. I wanted to say to him, “Call your dad. Call him now,” but I didn’t. We walked out completely spooked. What in the world were the chances that we had gone from the side of that man in the road to his son in a store just down the road? We’ll never know.

As of now, I don’t know if the man survived. I read a mention on social media that he hadn’t, but it wasn’t from an authoritative source. In a split second that he never imagined on an ordinary Thursday night his life may be lost. I saw the man before he was hit. I don’t know how the driver that hit him didn’t. Maybe he glanced down at a text on his phone, or changed the radio station, or maybe just blinked, and his life is forever changed. If the craft store cashier was the son of the man that was struck, his life changed in that instance too. My life changed too. I appreciate how quickly a split second can change the world and how powerful a motor vehicle can be. My life changed because from now on I will always ignore my cell phone when I am driving. Be grateful for every second you have because you never know what the next second may hold.

My Christmas Form Letter To You!

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It’s that time of year again! The time for the year in review Christmas form letter. It’s always touching when our relatives treat us like customers. Typically these form letters take one of two directions. The first and most typical is the ‘What a wonderful year we had!’

“Dear ____________, 2016 was a wonderful year for my family. I started a new job six figure job, and my wife was promoted to president of her company. The kids are doing well. Johnny aced the S.A.T., didn’t miss a question! He’s now been accepted into a Ph.D program at Harvard even though he’s only 14. Susie was named Miss Junior America and will be touring the country speaking out against make up companies testing lip gloss on kittens. The picture on the front of the card is the new Bentley we got after winning the lottery.

The best course of action the next time you see these relatives is a swift, stunning punch to the forehead that will cause them to spill nog all over their tacky sweater and leave a mark on their forehead. They deserve this because either they are lying about how fantastic their life is, or if their life is that great then the bruise on their forehead will remind them that life is tough and they shouldn’t get too cocky.

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The second kind of Christmas letter is my favorite. It’s the disaster letter. These are the people who make you feel so much better about yourself and your life.

“Hello everyone, it is with a heavy heart that we wish you Season’s Greetings. Sadly our twenty-seven year old cocker spaniel passed away last week. He was delicious.  In more upbeat news from our family it has been a year of triumphs! Little Johnny learned to poop indoors and that rash on Susie’s face cleared up. As soon as Obamacare kicks in we’ll get her lazy eye looked at. Home schooling is going well and they both are on track to graduate by the time they’re 21. We’re so proud! Once Trevor finds a job we’ll buy some train tickets and come visit! The best course of action with these relatives is to tell them you’re moving and you’ll forward them the address as soon as you get settled.

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I would just like to note that none of the pictures in this post are from my family. If I were to write a form Christmas letter to anyone reading this it might read:

Thank you to anyone who has read The Phil Factor even once. It’s been an amazing year for me thanks to all of you. Thank you to those who have read one of my books and those who clicked Like or shared my weekly Phil Factor as well as those that have helped by giving of their knowledge. Regardless of what religion or holiday you may or may not be celebrating this season, thank you for every little click you’ve directed at me in some way.

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As always, Happy Thursday, and if you enjoy #ThePhilFactor please feel free to share by hitting the Facebook or Twitter share buttons below.

Wordless Wednesday! Fruit or Lethal Weapon?

I’ve never even see this before? Have any of you eaten one?

Top Ten Tuesday! The Ten Best Christmas Specials!

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Last year a network aired “It’s Your 50th Christmas Charlie Brown!” To be sure, the Peanuts Christmas special is a classic here in the States. What I’d like to see someone create is a special with all the Peanuts characters as 50 year olds. How weird would that be? Here are my choices for the Ten Best Holiday Specials of All Time. The Star Wars Holiday Special was mentioned in the comments a few times last year, but didn’t make the Top Ten only because I haven’t seen it. If you’re curious, it is on YouTube.  If you disagree with the list or have other choices please put them in the comments.

10. Rudolph’s Shiny New Year: This piece of crap has been played every year since 1976. I think I accidentally watched it once as a child and vowed to never watch it again. Thus far…mission accomplished. Rudolph should have been made into venison before this was made.

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9. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving: Sure the idea of toast and popcorn sounds great, in theory. This is a good special but pales in comparison to The Peanut’s Halloween and Christmas specials.

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8. Frosty the Snowman: The best part of this special is the song. The acting is putrid and the plot is barely plausible. When this is on I’m rooting for a green Christmas.

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7. Little Drummer Boy: This is where the list starts to get good. Good song, good plot, great claymation and I think there are some talking animals. Plus, it all takes place in a desert where Frosty would never survive.

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6. Santa Clause is Comin’ To Town: Oh man! When I was a kid and the Winter Warlock first appeared I was terrified. I believe the phrase “chillin’ like a villain” was coined for him. Also a young Santa hooks up with a serious hottie of a wife.

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5. The Rugrats Chanukah Special: Technically it was an episode of the series, but all these years later I still remember it for actually explaining the meaning of Hanukkah to me better than any person ever had. It was entertaining and informative, just like The Phil Factor.

4. A Charlie Brown Christmas: Hey, I know you all love this one, but if The Peanuts get on the list twice they don’t get #1. The ice skating scene, the dancing scene, and Snoopy making the animal noises were all great. Lucy still should have punched Charlie Brown for bringing back that wretched tree.

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3. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: Romance, bromance, career conflict, monsters, The Island of Misfit Toys. This special had it all. Remember how scary it was when Yukon Cornelius rescued Rudolph and his family from Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster?

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2. Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas: Great song and great villian with a story of redemption. Who doesn’t love it when his heart grows and breaks the frame? My favorite scene is when his dog, Max, happily hops on the front of the sleigh expecting a ride.

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1. The Year Without a Santa Clause: This special didn’t need a Santa Claus. If you’ve got the Heat Miser and the Snow Miser in a sing off you win. I just wish one of them had done a mic drop. Hands down the best songs ever in a holiday special of any kind. Here’s the video of both songs. (please pardon the commercial at the start). Enjoy!

Happy Holidays of every kind to everyone! If you disagree with my list please add your suggestions in the comments. If you enjoy #ThePhilFactor please share by hitting the Facebook, Twitter or re-blog sharing buttons below. Have a great Tuesday! ~Phil

Music Monday! A Christmas Cover by Weezer

Oh Holy Night by Weezer

Have a great Monday! ~Phil

The Shocking Truth: How Click Bait Addiction Will Ruin Your Life!

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Read this post! You won’t believe what happens next! It could save your life! Ten Things You Can’t Afford NOT to Know! Click bait is the eye candy of the internet. I know, I know, you thought I was, but for the purposes of today’s Phil Factor we’ll say click bait is the eye candy of the internet.  A title or picture so tantalizing that we can’t resist clicking on it. That’s my  quandary every weekend when I write #ThePhilFactor. I think to myself, What’s a title catchy enough that people will click on it?  The one I finally settled on today was my fifth idea. I’m not out to ruin your life, I just want three or four minutes of your time and a comment or like so that my ego remains intact for another day. As far as click bait goes, my blog is incredibly benign.

Not all click bait is benign. Most is designed to suck you into to clicking so that you can be shown pop-up ads that leave cookies on your computer so they can show you pop-up ads no matter what web page you’re on. Cookies that will show you targeted ads. Normally I love cookies. Nutter Butters are my favorite. Wouldn’t it be great if they could plant real cookies in your computer when you click on an ad? If I click on “Ten Earth Shattering Reasons Why The Kardashians Want To Date You”  and a Nutter Butter cookie pops out of my CD drive you bet I’d be hooked! When I’m elected President, or Sexiest Man Alive, I’m going to pass a law mandating that that’s how click bait should work. With the new 3-D printers, there’s no reason I can’t get a cookie every time I click on an ad.

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Sadly that’s not the kind of cookie you get when you click click bait. You see an article that says “The Twenty Most Attractive People of All Time”. You’re curious, you click it to see if I made the list. First page there’s a picture of Taylor Swift. (By the way, the other day Justin Bieber covered a Taylor Swift tune in concert and she is pissed about it. Read more here.) Underneath the first picture is an arrow that says See More —> and you have to click it to see number two. And that goes on and on for an hour until you get through, all the while clicking off the pop up ads that promise to help you look 20 years younger. If I’m 25, I’m pretty sure I’d have no interest in looking 20 years younger. That’s just creepy. Then when you get to  the interminable end of your list of the twenty most attractive people of all time (spoiler alert, I’m no. 8) you see a caption and picture that says Do This Exercise 5 Minutes A Day and You’ll …live forever, look younger, attract others, lose weight etc. And you figure, “I can exercise 5 minutes a day” so…

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We all have our favorite click bait. There’s just some topics or titles we would love to be true and can’t resist. Some of us love celebrity news, others like time savers, I like fitness stuff, some fall for lists. In the comments, tell me what is your irresistible click bait, besides The Phil Factor. Also, if you want to be an ironic hipster and make The Phil Factor click bait just hit the Facebook or Twitter share buttons below. Have a great Saturday! ~Phil

TBT! The Elf From Hell?

This isn’t really a throwback because it’s timely and relevant every year and I intend to keep posting it until all the demented parents stop waging psychological warfare on their young children.

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(12/22/2012) Most of you are familiar with the Elf on the Shelf right?  In the Elf on the Shelf tradition these poorly dressed little plastic elves are mischievous minions of the red suited overlord who spy on the every move of children and report back to their tyrannical leader. That allegedly quaint little elf doll was invented about 15 years ago as a new, and for some toy making company, moneymaking tradition. Fortunately for my kids I wasn’t aware of The Elf on the Shelf when they were young enough to believe in it.

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Parents put these little Elves on a shelf and the children are told that the Elf cannot be touched or it will lose it’s Christmas  magic. The elf allegedly flies back to the North Pole to report to Santa every night. Man kids are gullible! In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, “What a bunch of maroons!” The nightly flight is how parents explain that the Elf is in a different spot when the kids wake up each morning.

Of course this crazy little ruse makes kids behave in the weeks leading up to Christmas! They’re terrified! Are you kidding me? Even now if you told me a Chuckie doll was going to sit on my shelf and stare at me while I slept, or that it might be moving around my house at night? I would never go to sleep again. The kids have got to be too terrified or too tired to misbehave. No wonder they have a weeks vacation from school after Christmas. They probably spend that week sleeping for the first time in a month.

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I have a friend who says that after her kids are asleep she will pose the Elf somewhere to make it appear as if the Elf had gotten into mischief overnight, such as putting him next to a tipped over jar of something, or maybe on a desk next to some torn up papers. So her kids wake up imagining that this creepy little doll with the frozen scary clown smile is moving about the house in the dark destroying things. How much longer before someone imagines the doll picking up a knife? What if in some home where they’re torturing their kids with the Elf on the Shelf, just by coincidence, their elderly dog or cat were to pass away during the night? What do you suppose those kids are going to think for the rest of their lives?

This tradition sounds like psychological warfare against children. How long before we see kids who have grown up with this tradition seeking counseling for PTED, Post-Traumatic Elf Disorder?

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Happy Holidays to you and your families. If you really want something mysterious and far less traumatic to just appear somewhere this holiday season please share #ThePhilFactor by hitting the Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest share buttons below. Have a great Thursday! ~Phil