Occupational hazards of being a Journal freelancer

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By Bob Sullivan

Saturday, March 5, 2005: A day like any other day?#34;but not for long ...

The FOREST PARK REVIEW (owned by WEDNESDAY JOURNAL) had again entered a float in the annual pre-St. Patrick's Day Parade, held by our sister city. As a freelance weekly columnist for the Review for a decade or so (and occasional contributor to the JOURNAL), I've had exposure to some readers, and because I will not own a computer I'm seen often enough at the JOURNAL office. Some may say more than enough.

So the event was set, the float was decorated and bodies were recruited from the newspaper office to man (and woman) the float, ride upon it, smile from it and wave to faces mostly unknown. The staging area wound around Wilcox, adjacent to the Forest Park CTA (Blue Line) terminal, and continued north where it would transform itself into a parade, spill onto Madison Street near the tracks, then proceed east to Elgin Avenue, just a block short of Harlem.

Alas, it was not to be; at least for the Forest Park Review contingent.

The "wagon train" got it's Go signal at about 1:15 p.m. Most of the crowd-wavers clambered aboard the float easily enough, as young people annoyingly do. One woebegone geezer?#34;your humble correspondent?#34;was figuring how to ascend this moving plateau when suddenly ... well, allow me to put it this way. As has oft happened in my life, the boat sailed and I was still on the dock (or the 747 was approaching 33,000 feet and I was still having my bags weighed). As the parade began, all the sub-forces of physical nature that could be grouped under the superforce of "gravity" seemed to be pulling at my lower left leg. Maybe not this, but things like this have surely happened to you. "Suddenly," is the key word. "Suddenly," means you
don't have a clue as to what's happening,
but you damn well know it's happening
to you (Loss of consciousness frequently follows in the scenario). Sure enough, the force pulled me downward, and I whacked the back of my head on the Wilcox pavement.

They tell me the front left wheel of the float ran up my leg. Apparently, a few noticed something amiss. You've also been around long enough, perhaps, to know that in situations like this, while things may be happening all about?#34;and to?#34;you, one may have partial recollection and phantom memories. I was later told the driver pulling the float was slow in hearing or reacting to calls of a problem. I was also told that he drove back down my left leg (for good measure?) and may have started a third run when enough
people jumped off the float, easing the leg pressure. I was further told that some godsend named Carl Nyberg (another Review freelancer)
suggested that everybody lift so someone could roll the poor sap out from under. Somewhere in all this, I can distinctly
recall a lucid moment during which a group of my enemies leaped from the platform, jumping up and down in glee.

During the rollout I apparently came to, face to face with a concerned Dr. James Murray, yet another Review freelancer, who?#34;when I answered "No" to his question, "Are you in pain?"?#34;turned ashen, apparently thinking, Where there's no pain there's little chance of life (Interesting philosophy, and maybe as realistic as it is dark).

Anyway, I was carted off to the Loyola Medical Center emergency room, comforted by?#34;in order of appearance?#34;my editor, Melissa Lou; and my wife, good ol' Barbara. Spent four hours waiting, undergoing scans, waiting, criticizing procedures, waiting, getting x-rays, waiting, chatting with busy nurses and waiting.

After four hours came release and a rare ride home by Barbara, during which a self-serving notion entered the ego portion of my brain?#34;a pretty large area, considering the brain pan (I had been, after all, the center of much attention by now). I could hardly wait to get home and check for red-light messages of concern. Once inside, I hobbled to the phone pretty well. No red lights. No calls (at that time). No words of concern. Nothing. Nil. Nunca. Nada. Ha!

Post note: For all of you out there who may still be concerned, rest easy. No broken bones. Minimum pain. Very lucky. Thanks for asking.

? Bob Sullivan works at the Oak Park Public Library, where he has not yet been buried beneath an avalanche of books.

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