The Golden Rule

Chris sat down in the chair in front of me ready to register for classes. A day later he tells me about a life-changing episode in his life.

My name in Chris Perez and I’m 23 years old. I believe that as a person I am constantly growing and learning about the person that I am. I do my best every day to focus on being kind to other people. I feel like kindness is seen so few and far between these days. I am not someone that will instantly judge their thoughts or their values or views on life or any other subject thereof.

I live my life based largely on my family values, treat others the way you want to be treated. Equality, that everyone is different but no one person is above another. I was taught to believe in myself even when I am full of doubt. Even if the outcome isn’t what you had hoped. Just knowing that you did what you could, and you gave it your all will show you more about yourself.

When I was around 15 my father’s health started to decline. He needed major surgery to live. This took my whole family by surprise and shook us all to our core. My dad had always been the one to keep us together when things went bad. This time he couldn’t. He had several complications due to the surgery including a stroke that he is still recovering from. He was in the hospital for 3 months. During this time I was in school and working part time. My mom wasn’t working and dad’s job was looking to release him due to his absence. It felt like my whole world was crashing down. One July night at around 2 am, I got a call from my mom who was crying saying she didn’t know how much longer she could do it and she wanted dad back. She said she couldn’t speak to anyone the way she spoke with me. She asked If I could come back and stay with her for another night. I did, I felt useless and without hope. But, I knew that I couldn’t fail my family by losing hope and giving up on even in such a difficult time. That night I told myself that I wouldn’t give in to my fears, that I would be who my dad was for me. I would be strong, and I will be there for my family to lean on, any day, any time or place. I found so much purpose in that difficult time. It changed me forever.

This year, 2018, began with a big scare. On January 1st, I was headed out have a couple of drinks and some dinner with my girlfriend. We were passing through I-30 East when she noticed some smoke. I hadn’t seen it at first but it was all I could think about after she showed me. I pulled off to the service road and parked near a local apartment complex. I saw a white van engulfed in flames, so I pull out my phone to call for help. My girlfriend didn’t want me to get out of the car but I insisted as it seemed like no one noticed this huge flame just under the I-30 bridge. I stepped out of my car and began speaking with the emergency operator when a woman in a grey car pulled next to me on the service road screaming, “There is a man inside!” Repeating that he needed help. I told the woman on the phone what I was just told, she explained that it would be 3-5 minutes before someone would arrive. All I could think was that the fire was only getting more out of control and someone was at the very least injured. I made the decision to run to the burning car. When I stepped close enough to feel the flames I called out to see if anyone was around. I thought maybe whoever was driving might have gotten out before the car exploded. This is when a man fell from the front seat onto the ground covered in fire. He was screaming and in tremendous pain. I called out to him telling him to move as far away as he could so I could help. He managed to move inches from the car. His body, from the bottom of his legs to his waist and his left arm and most of his back was all covered in flames. The only exposed portion of his body was his left arm. I grabbed his arm and pulled him about 5 feet from the car. The fire that consumed his body was not letting up. I couldn’t grab his body anymore because of this. I was getting him to rollover so I could take my jacket to attempt to put out the flames. This is when the fireman ran up to my right side and told me to step back, I pointed out the man and the fireman was startled. He finally got a handle of the hose and put the fire out on the man and the vehicle. I was shaken, never did I think I would see something so graphic in my life. The man is alive today, I was thanked on the scene by the man, the officers and the fireman.

I dream of changing the world for the better.

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