Saturday, January 06, 2007


January 6, 2007

Just when the world needs a hero, one pops out of the crowd, makes his move, and then says, "Who, me?"

Wesley Autrey is just such a guy. Weary of all the coverage of the death of Gerald Ford, I spotted the human interest feature about him, the man who, standing in a subway station, saw someone fall onto the track just as an oncoming train screeched in. Autrey did what he says "anyone would do," and threw himself onto the track, covering the body with his own and held them both down low enough to avoid the oncoming train.

I watched re-enactments on television. I thought, "I wouldn't have done that." I racked my brain for anyone I know who would have. You never know, but I know myself pretty well and stick by my initial reaction. I would have thought how horrible it was, but I would have averted my eyes and maybe run from the scene. Others I know would have been fascinated and stayed to watch. But it takes a hero to do what Wesley Autrey did. My whole spirit is lifted to know that there is such a man walking among us.

He had received honors and awards for his deed, but all he says is, "I'm just enjoying my fifteen minutes of fame," and that the money will go to his kids for their college education when they need it. No doubt more honors and more money will come to him, but he isn't seeking it, and he truly seems to think he did nothing out of the ordinary.

I rented the Oliver Stone film World Trade Center yesterday and watched it last night. It was something like the WWII movies about war, but more real and more touching because it was telling a story of heroes, in a simple way, showing that they were simply doing what they felt they had to under the circumstances, which they felt was nothing out of the ordinary.

My late husband, a child of the Depression and G.I. during that war, often lamented that young people didn't have any heroes to look up to. His generation had venerated Lindbergh, he said. One day, when on this jag, he asked my teenage daughter if she had a hero. She thought about it and said to him, "Eleanor Roosevelt." I have never been prouder of her.

I do not tend to idolize people. Certainly the Lindbergh-hero model is tarnished (and he would not have been a hero of mine even if I had been of an age to see the historic flight to Paris). But I'll put all those people I don't know, all the Wesley Autreys who jump out of the crowd to perform a heroic feat, all the rescue workers of the world from the local firemen to the many who put their life on the line in the aftermath of the bombing of the twin towers, to those fighting in Iraq, on my list.

Would I do it? I don't think so. Would you?


L. said...

Would I do it? In all honesty I am afraid that I would have 'frozen' up and not been able to do anything but stand there horrified and helpless.

He was an incredible human being to do what he did, and, in my mind, a true hero. I was so touched by his ability to think quickly and take action.

I just read about two other heroes who 'caught' a three year old as he lost his grip and was falling from the 4th floor of an apartment building. Their heroism saved his life. Amazing.

There are angels that walk amongst us...

Bert Bananas said...

I do things that I am pretty sure I can do, and the more time I have to think about it, the better my actions will be. We're all like this.

Not being familiar with the trains involved, I probably wouldn't have known that two bodies would have room to lie together under the train. Apparently Mr. Autrey knew this, reviewed the situation and took very appropriate action. It would seem that he knew the odds were with him. I would like to think he didn't jump on the tracks wondering what the heck to do...

Kudos to him, and to the two guys who caught the falling baby, and to me, for that time I saved a pedestrian's life. It didn't make the papers, but the guy has been sending me $150 a month for over 14 years.

Mary Lois said...

I'd love to hear the story of that rescue, Sir Banana!In the meantime, I'll just put you on my short list of heroes.

Even if Autrey knew he could do it, it took guts to take that leap onto the track, don't you agree?

Bert Bananas said...

"Even if Autrey knew he could do it, it took guts to take that leap onto the track, don't you agree?"

Absolutely! I'd like to think that Mr. Audrey combined knowledge and the will to do good things. An amazing combination, as has been proven by all three of my honeymoons.

Mary Lois said...

Do your two exes send checks every month too?

L. said...

"...I saved a pedestrian's life. It didn't make the papers, but the guy has been sending me $150 a month for over 14 years."

For real, Bert?

Mary Lois said...

The bananameister would never lie about such a thing. He's not a mendacious mouse.

Bert Bananas said...

I did save a pedestrian's life. It was weird. It was a very self-contained moment, isolated in space and time...

I was on a side street and I pulled up to a stop sign at a major street. It was nighttime. As I slowed and stopped, I saw a guy step off the sidewalk to cross the major street. I looked to our right and saw the big shadow of a car coming, without its lights on. I looked back at the pedestrian and it was obvious he didn't see the car. Simple ballistic analysis indicated that the car and the pedestrian were on a course to try to occupy the same space at the same time. I laid on the horn and the pedestrian stopped and looked back at me. I was flipping my brights and he was staring at me, and then the lights-out car flashed by him, about two feet from where he stood in the street. He turned to look at the rear of the car as it moved away from him. I could hear him thinking, "that guy in the hideous yellow 280Z just saved my life! I need to send him $150/month for the of my life!" But my tummy was all ruuuummmmmmbly, so I skipped the kudos and drove the block and a half to my apartment where I worked on perfecting my total non-constipated way of life.

So there ya go!

Even-handed Hope, money did change hands after my first marriage, but not the second. The third is slowly making me old, you know?