A story that may save your life

By Staff Writer
October 26, 2000

by Stephanie Masucci

I love meeting new people, and I love the way they can affect your life in an instant. The way a person tells a story or the way they conduct themselves can almost become contagious. Even if you only met someone for a few hours they can leave a part of themselves that you will take with you forever. Last year I met a man that changed the way I think about drunk driving forever.

Over Christmas break last year, a group of friends and I went downtown to hang out. We wound up at a trendy coffee house named Xando’s which is located right off of South Street. We were gossiping about people we knew from high school when a young man walked up to our table. He had strawberry blonde hair was about 130 pounds and about 5 feet 6 inches. His face looked pale against the black leather coat he was wearing.

“Hi girls, how are you,” he said with an innocent smile.

“Do you mind if I sit down?”

We all took a look around at each other’s expressions and warmly said sure.

He told us that his name was JB and that he was glad to meet us all. He asked us what school we all went to and what our majors were. We all told him about our schools, Temple, Cabrini, York, Marywood and about how basically we were all studying English.

“Wow, I used to study English when I was in college. I went to Temple but I didn’t graduate,” he said with his hands tightly held together and his head looking down.

We asked him why he didn’t graduate and this was when he told us about his life.

When he was a junior in college he was into drugs and alcohol. He told us about how he would get drunk and smoke and was even addicted to such heavy drugs as cocaine. One night he and his best friend were driving home from a party intoxicated and high. JB was driving when he fell asleep at the wheel crashing into a tree. He woke up later after being in a coma with a massive head injury. He was notified that his best friend had been killed in the crash.

JB sat for a second in silence.

He couldn’t remember anything before high school and would go through years of physical therapy. He had to be taught how to do basic skills including walking, reading and writing.

He told us that he has trouble staying awake past 10 o’clock and how he needs help with a lot of things.

My friends and I listened to his story, jaws opening and closing, tears in our eyes as this man told us about his second chance at life. My friend asked if he was thankful for his second chance at life and if he was now closer with God. He mentioned how he was not a man of strong faith but that he was glad to be alive.

He told us about how he loves to write and how he is in the process of writing a book with a woman who helps him with his thoughts. He stressed how important it is to stay away from drinking and driving and to never get in the car with someone who is under the influence. JB wants to have a house of his own and wants to go back to college. His mother fears that it will be too much for him but he is working towards it. It took him over five years to get where he is today and he is still a lot slower than a man of his age should be.

My friend said he should become a motivational speaker at area schools to talk about his experience. JB said that someday he would like to. When JB was done talking he said he was going to go have a cigarette. He walked over to the couple whom he was having coffee with and I remember him saying “See I told you they were nice.” That was the last I ever saw or heard of that man.

My friends and I sat at our table staring at our lattes and cappuccinos with a new-found sensitivity in our hearts. We let this man sit at our table and share his thoughts with open minds and curious thoughts. It amazes me how I was at that coffee house at the same time JB was. If anything he has made me realize how one little car ride home can change the lives of many forever. I just hope that by reading this article JB has helped save the lives of a few more passengers.

Steph Masucci is the Managing Editor of the Loquitur. She’s not wearing a mask, but she is wearing a wig.

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